Bali: Ancient Wonders Above, Natural Wonders Below

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Bali is an island province of Indonesia known for ancient Buddhist temples, architecture and lovely people. It is a highlight of arts, including wood and metal working, traditional and modern dance, painting, leatherwork and sculpture. It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands the world.

Bali has been in the spotlight for decades as a destination for epic surfing and stunning beaches. However, in recent years, divers have come to realize Bali’s underwater tapestry offers a rich, diverse variety of dive sites and animals including the Mighty Mola Mola — the oceanic sunfish.

Bali and the surrounding islands offer almost anything you want when it comes to diving. Shore, nearby boat excursions and liveaboards are all great options here. Underwater, you can find small and diverse populations of reef fish or large pelagic animals like sharks, whales, and turtles. Rock formations, wrecks, seamounts, pillars and caverns can all be found here.

The Diving

Nusa Penida and Lembongan Island

If you want to mark the mola mola (oceanic sunfish) off your list of must-see creatures, they come inshore between July and September every year in Bali and this is the place to see them. These strange-looking, giant fish (up to 2 meters long) have large, blunt heads and stubbed tails.

These islands lie offshore from mainland Bali and offer an escape from the crowds. There are around a dozen great dive sites here, which offer drift diving, reefs, and lots of views of large pelagic creatures.

Manta Point (Nusa Penida)

The sea can be murky here due to the plankton but mantas are drawn in to feed and get a thorough cleaning. They will generally tolerate divers if you give them some space.

Be careful of strong currents around these islands, as it’s easy to drift toward sea when you’re busy watching remoras give mantas a good cleaning. Make sure you have your own safety sausage and a signalling device for attracting attention at the surface. You can also expect to encounter chilly thermoclines in the deeper water.

Crystal Bay (Nusa Penida)

Check out Crystal Bay for a shallower, protected dive site compared to many around the islands. The bay is carpeted in coral and is also a favorite hangout for the mola mola.

Padang Bai

This bay on the eastern end of Bali offers one of the widest variety of dive sites in the region. This goes from lagoons to reefs to rocky islands with great underwater features. Sites here include blue lagoon, which is one of the best sites for macro photos and beginner dives.

The reef at Gilli Sadang offers views of gems like pygmy seahorse and cuttlefish.

Mimpang wall is excellent for shark viewing, as is Baiha, or shark cave. Finally, drift divers will love the Canyon for exhilarating currents and great pelagic views.

Getting There and Getting Around

International flights go into Bali either through Ngura Rai or Longbok, and liveaboards and dive resorts will often provide shuttle service to their locations if you request this when you give a reservation. Otherwise, taxis and buses are around to take you to your lodging, or ferries if you are staying on one of the other islands.

Lodging is as diverse as the diving but many divers choose to stay on Bali’s northeast coast, close to dive sites.

When to Go: Year-round, though the rainy season between November and March will reduce visibility. Bali has a warm, tropical climate, with air temps from 70° – 90°F.

Average Surface Water Temps: 68° – 79°F

Visibility: 15’ – 120’+

Image attribution:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/39891373@N07/


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