• Why Diving on Bali
  • Region Overview
  • Weather & Seasons
  • Considering the Tides
  • Popular Dive Sites

Scuba Diving Destination: BALI

Bali, also known as “The Island of the Gods,” is an excellent location for divers of all skill levels and levels of curiosity. Good shore-based resort diving against a spectacular backdrop of large, majestic volcanoes and lovely rice paddy terraces is simply alluring to travelers.

Combining a diving trip with exploring everything that Bali has to offer will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A great destination for Scuba Divers

With more than 13,000 islands, all of which have their own character above and below the sea, Indonesia could easily claim 15 of the world’s best diving sites on its own.
Divers from all over the globe go to Bali because of the welcoming nature of the locals, the year-round tropical environment, the abundance of attractions, and the latest marine preservation measures.

You can go diving with the magnificent Oceanic Sunfish or Mola Mola in the seas of Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan, or you can look for seahorses in the area of Mimpang / Tepekong. Tulamben’s ‘Liberty’ wreck and Bali’s varied hard and soft corals help to make the island a top 15 diving destination.

There’s always the option of booking a guided 12-night safari that takes you to all four corners of the island and to all the best diving spots, or you may tailor your trip to focus on a particular area of interest. 

Some divers with more time combine their Bali vacation with a live-aboard experience to Komodo Island or Raja Ampat Marine Park, where they sleep the entire time on a stunning boat that visits the best dive spots in the region, some say the best in the world. 

Scuba Diving Information

Lodging Options for Scuba Divers in Bali

Main Dive Regions:

  • North West & Menjangan Island (national Park)
  • Tulamben & Amed (North East)
  • Padang Bai (East Bali)
  • Penida, Ceningan & Lembongan Island

You can stay on one of the neighboring islands (Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, or Nusa Penida) and experience “a Bali” as it was many decades ago, but staying near the coast (northeast or east of the island) will give you easy access to great dive sites. Staying near the main dive areas, which are on the west coast or up in the north near Amed or Menjangan Island, can make your diving trip much more convenient. Instead of staying in Canggu, Kuta, or Seminyak (South West), this is where most divers choose to stay.

There are three islands located a short distance west of Bali, and Lembongan is one of them (40min by boat from Sanur or Benoa). In addition to providing scuba divers with unparalleled conditions, the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida are peaceful havens that have remained relatively unspoiled. Accommodations are even cheaper than they are in Bali.


Scuba Diving Schools & Centres

Divers from all over the globe gather around Bali to swim with sharks and other pelagics, as well as more than 1,500 kinds of fish.

Due to Indonesia’s long-standing status as a top diving destination, the local diving community has worked to expand access to the sport and improve its safety protocols, decompression methods, training courses, and gear.

Today, Bali’s infrastructure includes more than 130 dedicated scuba diving centers with course materials, and certifications in almost every language, making it more accessible to divers everywhere. 

So, why are you stalling? Whatever your current diving expertise, now is the time to enroll in a PADI or SSI course. You may take a variety of diving courses in Bali, including those leading to certification as a dive master or rescue diver, as well as more advanced training in fields like Nitrox or Night Diving.

Raising a family? You may go deep sea diving without worrying about your kids since there are classes designed just for them. Do you want to extend your visit? Interning as a PADI Divemaster is a great experience.

What You Need to Know About the Seasons and Weather Before Booking Your Next Scuba Trip

The island of Bali lies between eight and nine degrees south latitude very near the equator. Here, you will find year-round tropical climate with warm, humid temperatures. The coastal plain has daily highs of 30–32 degrees Celsius and overnight lows of 24–26 degrees Celsius (the mountains are significantly cooler). Temperatures change little, yet the patterns of wind and rain in Bali create two distinct seasons.

From May-September is the dry season, when the southeast winds bring dry air from over the Australian continent.

From November-March is the wet or rainy season, when northwest winds bring in moist air.

Naturally the length of the dry season varies on different parts of the island. The winds in the middle of any of these seasons can be strong, raising sea levels and thus making diving difficult on the side of the Island they hit directly.

The BEST time for diving are during the transition months between the seasons, usually APRIL or OCTOBER. The winds are generally weak and the sea is calm.

The Balinese lunar calendar, Saka, supports this idea, with each Sasih (month) starting the day after the new moon, peaking at the full moon, and ending the day before the next new moon.

This calendar suggests that September through October, or Sasih Kapat, is the best time to go scuba diving, while Sasih Kesanga, is the worst (February-March).

The Diving Seasons in General

Although this is just a general guideline, the calmest seas tend to occur between the beginning of the year and a bit more choppier seas in September. Due to Bali’s size, excellent diving conditions may be “chased” at any time of year (find more details further down).

Months General Conditions
September – November Best diving period
April – June Good diving period
December Okay diving period
January – March Not so good diving period

The shifting seasons in Bali’s many diving sites

Less than 15 centimeters of rain falls annually on the areas of the island that face west, north, and northeast. The area has a dry season of eight months or more. The rainy season is the most detrimental to diving conditions in the Northwest, particularly at the exposed locations in that region and in Tulamban. North Coast waters may get rather turbulent in the winter months of January and February.

The East coast and Nusa Penida get more rain, with the wet season starting earlier. During the dry season the seas are raised here, making diving difficult at the Amuk Bay sites and Nusa Penida.

As the wet season ends and the winds shift one can expect upwelling to the waters South of Bali. As the surface water moves offshore, cold nutrient rich water from the south of Java and Bali is drawn upward to replace it. As this water reaches the sunlit surface, all the nutrients it contains trigger a phytoplankton bloom.

The upwelling is when the East Bali and Nusa Penida sites come alive, when the molas and the other pelagics appear and exposing divers to very cold water. The average sea temperature of 26–28 degrees may fall below 20 degrees.

What the tides may do to your dive experience

When it comes to diving conditions, some divers tend to ignore the influence of the tide. In contrast, surfers pay close attention to all elements (especially tides) that influence the size of the waves they ride.

As a result of Bali’s location at the intersection of two tidal regimes, the island experiences a mixed tide (two tides each day of uneven heights), the exact nature of which changes depending on where you are on the island.

It’s no secret that the moon has a major impact on the tides. Spring tides, with their extremes of high and low, occur during the full moon and new moon, when the moon and sun are in alignment. During the first and last quarters of the moon, tides are typically lowest. When it comes to determining the quality of a dive at many of Bali’s sites, the tide has a greater impact than the seasons. It’s possible that a dive at Nusa Penida or another site off the coast of East Bali during the first quarter moon phase will be relatively calm and easy. Diving at the same location two days after the new moon could be extremely risky due to rising water levels.

Scuba diving is best done during the “slack” period of high tide, which occurs approximately an hour before and after each tide. This is when there is very little current. At the onset of a flood tide, many marine creatures, including colorful fish, become more active so that they can feast on the abundant food source.

Understanding tide tables is crucial because there is usually only one dive per day where conditions are optimal. Bali has 12-hour days, with two peaks occurring 12 hours apart. This is important information to know if you do not have access to a tide table. Keep an eye out for the slack high on your first dive, and know that it will arrive the following day about 50 minutes later. This means that if you want to dive at a specific time every week, you’ll only be able to do so every two weeks. Finding an operator who is willing to get you there on the right tide will be well worth the additional costs if you are serious about diving and want to take tides into account. You can do your off-tide dives at less crowded sites.

Overview of some of the best Diving Areas in and around Bali

Dive Site Location Description Conditions
Tulamben North-East Bali Famous for the ‘US Liberty’ ship wreck and beautiful marine species. Famous for the ‘US Liberty’ ship wreck and beautiful marine species.
Amed North-east Bali – at the bay of Cemeluk Staghorn corals and cardinal fish. Stripped convict tangs, sailfin tangs and orange-lined triggerfish.One of the best places to find shy ribbon eels in the sand, and clown triggerfish. Off the shore is a steep wall of sea fans and sponges, dropping to over 40 meters. The west side offers contrasting diving.
Gili Selang Eastern most point of Bali. Hosts the most protected section of the Island. Home to large colonies of leather and brain corals. East-side of this islet is home to many sharks. Relatively isolated. Popular for Live-aboard cruises. Deep water channels attract adventurous divers. Down current can get treacherous.
Biaha East of Bali – facing south of Island -near Candi Dasa. Most remote of Amuk Bay sites. Dive will most-likely start with a 8m dive to a cave full of white-tip reef sharks, lionfish and good sized lobsters. Strong swell. Choppy waters at the surface.
Candi Dasa (Amuk Bay) South-east of Island lies the 100m wide Islet Gili Tepekong and also Gili Mimpang. Spectacular diving. Offering encounters with big-eyed trevally and rainbow runners. Steep coral walls. Cold waters. Strong currents.
Padang Bay South-east Dive out to many sites from here. Most popular is to shrine named Pura Jepun about 50 meters out. Other sites are Tanjung Bungsil and Padang Bai Cahnnel. Busy Bay, where ferries cross daily from Bali to Lombok. One might need to delay an ascend to avoid ferry.
Lembongan – Nusa Penida Off main-land Bali, to the south-west. Opportunity to spot incredible and odd-looking ‘sunfish’. Shaky changeable currents. But some incredible dive sites, with sharks, mantas, mola mola
Menjangan – Deer Island North-west (small island) Trips leave from Labuhan Lalang. Enormous proliferation of gorgonian fans, pink, purple, green, yellow, orange. Opportunity to see black-spotted moray eels and ribbon eels. Home to infrequently visited Anker wreck. Popular due to protected location – waves rarely problem. Good Visibility.
Pemuteran North-west. 2km east of Pemuteram lies Napoleon Reef This submerged reef rises to 5 metres from the surface and slopes down to 30 metres to the north Easy paced scuba diving
Secret Bay East of Bali-to-Java ferry terminal in the small village of Gilimanuk- northwest Bali Fair collection of treasures waiting to be discovered. Calm waters

Scuba Diving Essentials