Bali is not only the gateway for famous liveaboard destinations like the Komodo Islands or Raja Ampat, there are many world-class shore diving opportunities all around the island. The best coral reefs are located along Bali's still comparatively quiet northeast to northwest coasts. There is a wide range of dedicated dive resorts for all travel budgets to choose from, and almost all resorts offer their own house reefs for diving and snorkelling. Best weather conditions for diving prevail from April through November.
While day dive trips are available also from the busy and densely populated southern beaches near Denpasar Airport. Sanur Beach being our personal favourite to relax and acclimatise for the first jetlagged night or two. Although day trips to the dive sites are possible, we do not recommend them due to the very long bus rides, except perhaps for the southernmost dive sites in the Bali-Lombok channel.
The gateway to dive sites like the famous Shark Point and Manta Point around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Tenida is the small fishing village of Padang Bai. There are usually strong currents with thermoclines, and during a dive the water temperature may drop suddenly to a rather untropical 18°C (70°F). The reward are encounters with sharks and other pelagics, there are some manta cleaning stations, and during the Indonesian winter months until September/October you might even get lucky to spot a mola mola (sunfish). These dive sites are the coldest in Bali and rarely exceed 25°C (75°C).
Bali's most famous dive destination, Tulamben, lies in the shadow of the island's highest mountain, the volcano Gunung Agung (great mountain) further up on the northeast coast. Tulamben has become a mecca for wreck divers, since the SS Liberty, a US army transporter first torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and beached, was later pushed back into the ocean by Gunung Agung's latest lava eruption in 1963.
The SS Liberty is now a unique shore dive, with tiny female porters carrying everyone's dive gear to the shore, and wearing boots with open heel fins is recommended. You will find the best dive conditions in the early mornings. The wreck is overgrown with pristine coral and the variety of marine life ranges from a huge variety of macro creatures to larger favourites like barracudas and hump-head parrot fish which are seen here frequently, especially on the early morning dives. And this wreck is not the only highlight in this region; among many smaller reefs there is also a beautiful coral wall with steep drop off near the town of Amed, and the remote muck diving site of Puri Jati close to Lovina is also getting a lot of great reviews lately. Water temperatures along the north coast are a balmy 27°-30°C (85°-90°F) year-round.
In Bali's far northwest corner, the least visited part of the island, is Menjangan Island National Park off the coast of Pemuteran, a sleepy little fishing village situated on a wide sandy beach. Besides wall diving in the clear waters of Menjangan, there are plenty of reefs much closer to shore, and excursions further afield to Secret Bay. The best known macro and muck diving region in Bali, are also offered from Pemuteran.
Secret Bay is on the west coast facing the Bali-Java channel, where currents could also run colder like on the east coast.
There is a deco chamber in Kuta, and a PADI open water certificate or equivalent is the minimum requirement for certified divers. Divers with DIN regulators need to bring an INT-adaptor.
In Lombok, the best dive spots are found on the islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The dive sites offer plenty of variety, everything from steep walls to shallow coral gardens. The entire biodiversity of tropical coral reefs can be admired here. Dynamite fishing and coral bleaching have strongly affected the reefs around Lombok in the past. In the south of the island, there are some very good dive sites where you can experience schools of hammerheads or barracudas. The diving conditions here are more difficult and therefore only recommended to experienced divers.