This will be my sixth dive trip to Bali since 2013 and it still rates as my top all round dive destination for new divers to get experience and fall in love with the ocean.
There’s deep wall diving, drift dives, wreck dives, stunning coral gardens proliferated with myriads of critters to view and snap. The macro life is as beautiful as it is extensive in shallow to deeper waters whether you’re hunting nudibranchs, ghost pipe fish, pygmy sea horses, mandarin fish or ribbon eels amongst the host of other radiant sea life. Larger creatures range from turtles, manta’s, sunfish, titan trigger fish, blue spotted rays, large conga eels and banded sea snakes.
Must see and dive locations are far north sites like Menjangan Island with its walls covered in gorgonian fans and coral gardens teeming with clown fish of all sizes and variety. There’s a cave with electric clams, frog fish are abundant and you can be buzzed by dog toothed tuna who play like dolphins darting about. Between east Java and Menjangan is a massive array of garden eels as far as you can see in the 60m + viz. Pemuteren is home to beautiful dive resorts and the world recognised Bio Reef. Electrically charged steel sculptures with stainless mesh cathodes create abundant oxidant conditions for coral. 2 metre plate corals have emerged in under 5 years which is over twice the average rate of growth. There’s also some local muck dives sites like Secret Bay which despite the rubbish in the water is home to sea horses, giant worms, octopus and many other macro critters.
Tulamben on the N.E. coast is the USAT Liberty Glo WW2 wreck. Suffering torpedo damage it was towed and beached to recover cargo. Local volcanic activity distressed the wreck and it slipped down the beach to rest on its starboard with stern in 5-8 m and bow at 30 with the slope gradually disappearing. Residents on the wreck include huge turtles, giant conga eels, giant bump-head wrasse along with the usual and strange macro critters like orangutan crabs and banded cleaner shrimp. The Drop Off hits 70m before the slope takes you further in to the blue abyss. Here at 25m is the largest fan i’ve seen at beyond 3m across indicating 30+ years ocean age. Above the wall is a plateau 8-10m deep with lots of coral activity including lion fish, clown fish and even a white tip shark or two lying under a plate coral next to the wine garden table placed for divers to share a photo.
Lying amid these two sites is the lush coral gardens and temple site again teeming with fish life. Large anemones accommodate several species of clown fish with some cleaning stations nearby with busy cleaner shrimp. If you neglected to clean your teeth or just want a quick scale pop by and allow these fastidious critters access for a new stunning smile. Keep an eye out for ghost pipe fish, eels and some mantis shrimps on the ascent up the slope. The local food can be enjoyed along the main drag. Directly across from Tulamben Wreck Divers you can enjoy good cuisine and hear local music then stroll down to the “Safety Stop” a good spot for a night cap and a game of pool.
Southern dive sites are usually accessed from Padang Bay and include local dive spots Mimpang, Tepekong, Shark Cave, Blue Lagoon to name a few local. We stay just up the road at Candidassa in the Bayshore Villa’s and Apartments 4.5 * accommodation and just 15 min from Padang Bay.
Our first few dives will be at Manta Point, Nusa Penida for some Manta’s and if we leave early enough some Mola Mola [Sunfish]. These amazing creatures [sunfish] grow to 3 tonnes and can be over 3 metres in size. They’re pretty shy and will usually retire to the depths once they sense too much diver presence. It’s now [at time of writing] peak season for these gentle giants. The Manta’s can be spotted at an around the shallow cleaning stations at Manta Point. They’ve become accustomed to divers so the easiest way to get close is to maintain a stationary spot with camera ready near the large “bommy” and experience “fly-by’s” as they swarm and hover in the mild current. There aren’t words that can properly convey these moments of encounter with the “bat’s” of the ocean. All I can say is; these are defining moments of scuba diving and fit right up there with the most surreal and glorious events in most divers repertoire of momentous events. Crystal Bay is known for its stunning visibility of 60 plus metres on a good day. The slope increases as it plummets over 90 metres into a deep ocean channel. The corals are amazingly vibrant and lively. Octopus and banded sea snakes inhabit the gentle slope with large tree shaped coral homes spawning tropical reef species. An occasional turtle meanders by and schools of blue fusiliers frequent the busy coral outcrops. One of my memorable dives was on the northern side of the island at at site called Ped. A brilliant drift dive where you just jump into the lazy current and ride effortlessly while scanning the coral slope for critters. There are large “bommy’s” and holes that home all sorts of nudibranchs, sea horses and banded pipe-fish. Watching 2 banded pipe-fish perform their courtship ritual is a rare sight of spectacle and beauty. The nights are warm and balmy and food and culture draws you to the local restaurants and bars. Evenings in Candidassa are always fun and eventful with some new local beverages such as Mango Margarita’s and Watermelon Mojito’s being a huge hit.
I love Bali as a dive destination. There is still so much left to explore. It really is a dream location for divers. Bali dive trips never cease to impress as all round fun and flocking in beautiful waters with fabulous and stunning reef, wrecks and adventures. Our final day in Candidassa can be spent doing some land content, and what better way than to grab a scooter and visit the Water Gardens, some Temples and maybe a market or two.
If the ocean has cast her spell, you will thoroughly enjoy indulging in the beautiful wondrous enchantment of Bali. Live the dream, Dive Bali……