Whether you’ve been a fan of Disney’s Ariel or simply have an affinity towards the ocean, you can’t deny that there’s a fascinating world to explore “under the sea”. From vibrant marine life to historic shipwrecks and even abandoned caverns, diving in Bali is an experience that cannot fully be contained in words. What’s more, you don’t even need to know how to swim or be an expert in the ocean to take a dive.

Bali’s pristine beaches, coupled with sapphire waters, attract scuba divers from across the world. So let’s plunge in to take a look at everything Bali offers underwater. 


Types Of Diving In Bali

1. Introductory Or Discovery Dives

Introductory courses are a great way to enjoy scuba diving if you’re a beginner.You’re on a vacation to Bali and want to try diving for a bit, but have no prior training or certification? Don’t let that stop you from delving into your underwater adventure. All across the island, you will find a host of resorts and diving schools that will start you off with an introduction to diving.

This is a professional program that helps you learn the basics of diving, such as hand gestures, handling equipment, and breathing underwater. The training is usually done with an expert in a shallow pool for practice. Once the trainer thinks you’re ready, you will be taken into the ocean. You can then look to dive up to 12 metres or 40 feet deep.

The minimum age limit for this dive is 10 years. You do not need to know how to swim, but the trainer has to deem you medically fit before you even begin the programme. 

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: If you are on medication or have a chronic condition, you will need medical clearance from your doctor before diving. So carry a fitness certificate if diving is on the agenda.

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Duration: The training process can be anywhere between four to six hours; after which you are allowed in the ocean for one dive only.

Cost: The introductory or discovery dives in Bali start at IDR 1,500,000 (Rs 7,150, or US$100) per person. Bali also has many diving resorts where you can book a day and overnight package. (Refer to Where to Dive in Bali section)


2. Scuba Diver Course


Loved your first diving experience and yearning for more? If you don’t have the 3-4 days needed for the introductory certification course, you can opt for the Scuba Diver course, which is short in duration and offers more dives.
A great course for those who want to learn, but don’t have a lot of time. 

While many diving schools offer this course, there are also those who don’t, so choose your organisation and trainer accordingly. In this course, you can only dive up to 12 metres or 40 feet depth and the minimum age limit for this dive is 10 years as well. You also need to swim 200 metres with your diving gear after training. So it’s important to know how to swim for this course.

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Duration: This is a two-day course, with two to three dives depending on your comfort level. This course will also include three to four theory sessions with the trainer.

Cost: The introductory or discovery dives in Bali start at IDR 4,300,000 (Rs 20,000, or US$298) per person. This will include a Scuba Diver Certificate that will help you when you opt for the next level of training.


3. Open Water Dive


The Open Water Diver course is the official first step to diving independently and exploring the ocean in its true beauty. The course comprises three steps – the first is the theory, which needs in-class training as well as studying online for the basic principles of diving.
The Open Water Diving Course is the official first step to becoming a professional scuba diver. 

The second is the actual diving, wherein you will be given pool water dives to learn all of the skills you need without the trainer present. Finally, you will need to do a few open water dives to put your skills to the test.

Besides these, you can also opt for Advanced, Rescue, Wreck, and Peak Performance Buoyancy courses while in Bali. However, these need more days and a higher skill level in water.

In this program, you can only dive up to 18 metres or 60 feet depth. The minimum age limit for this dive is 10 years, and you must be able to swim 200 metres with your diving gear as well as float and tread water for 10 minutes. So, knowing your basic swimming is necessary.

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Duration: This is a four-day course, with four ocean dives depending on your comfort level. This course will also include in-depth theory sessions, and five independent pool dives depending on your comfort level.

Cost: The introductory or discovery dives in Bali start at IDR 7,200,000 (Rs 34,000, or US$500) per person. You will get an Open Water Diver Certificate at the end of the training, applicable across the globe.


Where To Dive In Bali

Bali caters to all kinds of divers, whether a beginner or a professional. From colourful corals to stunning shipwrecks, the underwater world here is not to be missed. Here are the top five diving spots on the island.

1. Nusa Penida: Swim With The Rarely Seen Mola Mola Fish


This tiny beach located east of Bali is home a unique fish – the Mola Mola or Bali Sunfish. They are usually tough to find as they live deep in the ocean hidden, but from August to October they come closer to the surface attracting divers from across the globe. Along with the Mola Mola, you can also check out the Manta Rays, hard and soft corals, and gorgonian sea fans. Resorts and training schools here include Blue Corner Dive Bali Scuba, AquaMarine Diving andPenida Dive Resort.

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Best Time To Dive: August to October, when the Sunfish come out, although the best sightings tend to happen between July and August.

How To Get Here: The best way to get to Nusa Penida is to take a boat from Sanur beach at Denpasar. The trip should cost you around IDR 40,000 (Rs 190, or US$ 3) and take about 90 minutes.


2. Tulamben: Plunge Into History With An Underwater Shipwreck

When it comes to commercial activities, Tulamben is probably one of the quietest places in Bali. But what it lacks on land, it makes up for underwater. It is an internationally acclaimed site for the popular USAT Liberty Shipwreck, which is also regarded as one of the best wreck dives across the globe. And that’s not all; it also has some wonderful corals and marine life. Resorts and training schools here include Bali Reef Divers, Tulamben Divers, Bali Dive Resort and Spa, and Matahari Tulamben Resort.

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Best Time To Dive: Plan your dive between early April to July, and October to November. r.

How To Get Here: You can reach Tulamben by a 2 hour private taxi ride from Ubud or Kuta. From Denpasar, a bus route takes about 2 hours. It’s a little faster by private car or taxi.

3. Amed: A Look At A Mysterious Japanese Shipwreck

From the east, let’s move up towards the northeast side of Bali and visit the quaint, peaceful village of Amed. If you’re on a tight budget and want to learn diving, Amed is the place to be.

Here you’ll find Japanese shipwrecks at Banyuning, along with a host of underwater life, such as tropical fish, reef tip sharks, sea turtles, and lovely coral gardens. The best part is that this site is close to Tulamben, so you can stay overnight here or at Tulamben and visit both sites on different days. Resorts and training schools here include The Dive Centre Diver’s Cafe, Puri Wirata Dive Resort and Spa, and Baliku Dive Resort.

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Best Time To Dive: May to September.

How To Get Here: Like Tulamben, you can reach Amed in  2 hours from Kuta or Ubud by taxi.


4. Menjangan: Peek At The Untouched Underwater Beauty


Further up north is the Menjangan National Park, which is home to seven outstanding diving spots. These spots have unusual but gorgeous marine life, a dark volcanic ocean bed, calm waters, and clear visibility across the year. One of the best things about Menjangan is that it is yet to be discovered by flocks of tourists, making it virtually untouched.

While the place is worth a visit, it can be quite heavy on the pocket as it has one of the most expensive diving sites. To visit Menjangan, you need a dedicated park guide and special permit, which you can get from your hotel in the Pemuteran Beach area, since Menjangan isn’t ideal for tourists to stay. Pick from resorts and training schools like Sea Rovers, Menjangan Diving, Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Mimpi Resort here.

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Best Time To Dive: Throughout the year, but the currents and visibility are at their best during the months of July through September.

How To Get Here: The easiest way to reach Menjangan is via Labuhan Lalang. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to reach, and will cost you approximately IDR 3,50,000, or INR 1,670. 


5. Gili Islands: Visit The Turtle Capital Of The World

Known as the turtle capital of the world, the Gili Islands are a diver’s paradise. In the areas of Trawangan, Meno, and Gili Air, there are around 25 diving sites. These have sightings of beautiful turtles, some interesting views of natural contours on the ocean bed, and diverse marine life.

Some spots also offer a look at rare critters, such as the pink-leafed scorpionfish, frog fish, and the flying gurnard. Look out for the following resorts and training schools: Blue Marlin Gili, Trawangan Dive Center, Manta Dive Resort, and Dive Central Gili by Pesona Resort.

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Best Time To Dive: Throughout the year, but the currents and visibility are at their best during the months of May through September. Avoid diving during December and January because of heavy rain.

How To Get Here: From Kuta, you can take a taxi to Sanur beach which is about 45 minutes away. From the beach, you can take a fast boat to Gili Trawangan, which should take you about 50 minutes. Since Gili is at a distance from Bali, it is advised that you stay here for a couple of nights.


Things To Keep In Mind When Diving in Bali

  • Wherever you are in Bali, ensure that you select a PADI (The Professional Association of Diving Instructors)-certified organisation that offers diving training. 
  • Compare two good programs and bargain or find a good deal for an individual, couple or group of friends.
  • Snorkelling is also an option for beginners to enjoy the underwater sites of Bali. Ensure that you ask your trainer for snorkelling gear along with the diving one.
  • Check if your selected organisation offers diving insurance and transfers from your accommodation.
  • Mention all the details about your health conditions and if you are taking any kind of medicine or have consumed alcohol or drugs in the last 24 hours. This can help your trainer keep you safe in case of emergencies.
    Make sure the scuba diving course you pick is PADI-certified.
  • Keep at least an 18-hour gap between your dive and flight, whether you are landing in Bali or taking off back home. Flying can dehydrate the body, and diving immediately before or after flying can be fatal.
  • Bali has monsoon season from December to March, so no matter how tempting the discounts are, avoid booking your dive during this season. Besides, it can sometimes rain even during the dry season so check the weather before you book your gear.
  • Keep your itinerary flexible to explore more of underwater Bali; you might  find interesting places to spend more time at.