Underwater Bali - dive into the Indonesian waters

by Bangkok Girl

The water is warm, the corals are magnificent and marine life is varied and abundant. What are you waiting for? Bali has a large number of dive sites to be explored

The lush green terraced landscape of Bali is well known and often photographed, but beneath the seas another equally fantastic landscape of coral gardens also exists. The water is warm, the corals are magnificent and marine life is varied and abundant. What are you waiting for?

There are enough dive sites around Bali to explore a different site a day for a week or more, but if your wallet won't stretch to this or time is a problem, Sanur is a convenient place stay, with easy access to the diving.  There is a good chance you’ll be hooked and want to return with more money and time.

Diving at Tulamben

On the northeastern coast of Bali, Tulamben has its own dive operations but if you are staying in Sanur your dive shop will drive you up here for the day. The ride takes about two hours, and passes some pleasant scenery including Mount Agung, but is wearisome on the return trip. 

The main dive site is the Liberty Wreck, an old American cargo ship that lays about fifty meters off the beach. The buses arrive in the car park and a convoy of lady carriers load up with dive gear and tanks and walk the equipment down to the beach. The beach itself is rocky and it is quite a balancing act to get safely into the water with equipment on.

The Liberty is a big ship, now somewhat broken up, and beautifully encrusted with hard and soft corals, sea fans, anemones, and home to rainbow coloured schools of butterfly fish, angel fish, surgeon fish, and anemone fish. It is possible to swim through parts of the wreck as it is quite open. The Liberty Wreck is shallow enough to allow snorkelers a good view too, and the water is clear allowing a good view all round.

Most companies offer two dives on the wreck, and there is plenty to see, but there is also a reef dive at Tulamben, and if you stay in the village it is possible to do a night dive here.

Diving at Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is an island off the south east coast of Bali, half hour speed boat ride from Sanur Beach. The most popular site is Manta Point, appropriately named as it is a cleaning station for manta rays. The rays glide in towards the coast and swim over a large rock, circling round and round. There is a considerable wash on this dive, as the waves above beat up against a cliff, but there is little current. If there are no mantas it is a disappointing dive with little else to see, but if you are lucky enough to have several mantas circling around and above you it is hard to pull yourself away.

A second dive after Manta Point could be Sakenan Point, also on Nusa Penida Island. This is a drift dive with gardens of corals and shoals of fish. A wide variety of butterfly fish, triggerfish, angel fish, morays and anemone fish inhabit the reef. And there is always the chance of turtles, rays or something bigger.

On the north of Nusa Penida Island are two dive sites on the same stretch of reef, Ped and SD. In season, between July and beginning of October this reef can be the place to see mola mola, the huge sunfish, that come to hunt for jelly fish here. These large prehistoric looking creatures with a fin top and bottom ungainly waggle through the water or bask near the surface in the sunlight. Even without the sunfish the diving is good with magnificent coral gardens and a variety of fish to see. These sites are also good for snorkelers.

Many more dive sites are available round Nusa Penida and its smaller sister island of Nusa Lembongan, and provide diving for novices and more challenging experiences for experienced divers.

Dive Companies

Although you can stay on Nusa Penida or almost anywhere on the island, staying in Sanur makes good sense as this is the starting point for day trips to Nusa Penida Island.

The following dive companies operate from Sanur:

Ena Dive Center (www.enadive.co.id) (email: enadive@denpasar.wasantara.net.id)

Crystal Divers (www.crystal-divers.com) (email: diving@crystal-divers.com)

Blue Fin (www.bluefinbali.com) (email: info@bluefinbali.com)

All the centres offer diving courses from beginner through to dive master as well as introductory dives. Costs for a day’s diving range from approximately US $90 for two dives at Tulamben, to US $130 for two dives on Nusa Penida, and US $150 at Manta Point. There may well be discounts if you have your own equipment, book several days diving or book a package in advance.

As always with diving make sure you are happy with the dive company before you sign up. Check their staff are fully trained and qualified to teach if you are doing a course. Check the equipment has been maintained and is all in working order, and stay within your own safety margins for diving.

Where to stay

The dive centres have accommodation available, especially if you are doing a course with them, but there are plenty of other alternatives in all price ranges in Sanur.

Budget: Crystal Santai Hotel (http;//www.crystal-divers.com) - run by Crystal Divers, with 18 rooms and a pool. Approximately US$30 for a double room. Basic accommodation. 

Mid range: Puri Mesari is a small hotel with a pool and restaurant and 21 rooms.  Price is approximately US$50 for a double room.

Sativa Sanur Cottages - a small hotel with two storey cottages around a pool.  Facilities include bar and restaurant. 

Top end: Bali Hyatt - 390 rooms with beach access from hotel.

Eating Out

Sanur has a huge range of restaurants available including Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Indian, as well as Indonesian. 

Restaurant Apa Kabar (Jl Danau Tamblingan No. 190) offers Risjtafel on its menu – this is a good introduction to various Indonesian dishes. Also offers favourites such satay and nasi goreng. 

If it is comfort food you crave, try the Cat and Fiddle in south Sanur (Jl Cemara 36) which includes meat pies, fish and chips and full breakfast on the menu. Live music most evenings. 

Spike's Downtown Cafe (Jl Danau Tamblingan) fast food style diner with a Mexican twist.

Coriander (188 Jl Danau Tamblingan) Close to the Bali Hyatt Hotel, this a fusion Thai restaurant.

Little India (Jl Cemara no. 4) Open fronted Indian restaurant with prompt efficient service and melt in the mouth curries. 


Bali attracts people from all round the world to enjoy its beautiful landscape, the culture and festivals, the temples, the museums and art, and the beaches, resorts, and surfing.

But unseen by most, below the oceans is a whole other world to enjoy.

Safe diving!