Diving around Bali - magical tropical colours

diving CANDIDASA
DIVE SPOTS

Bali offers a nearly endless range of world-class dive spots and a variety that is hard to compete with: drop-offs and gentle slopes, lime-stone cliffs and black, volcanic boulders, protected lagoons and bays as well as nutrient-rich currents, nearly untouched coral banks and breath-taking wrecks. Another real highlight of diving Bali’s coasts are the relatively frequent spottings of manta rays, sharks and - during the season (usually between July and November) - Mola Molas (oceanic sunfish).

Recently, the expression “coral triangle” has become widely used, describing an area between the Philippines in the north, Papua New-Guinea and the Salomon Islands in the east and Thailand and Sumatra in the west. Bali is located right in the heart of this coral triangle and thus in the region that is home to the biggest biodiversity. Within the coral triangle, there are about 500 different kinds of corals – that is about seven times more than in the entire Caribbean! On top of that there are about 3,000 species of fish and six out of seven species of maritime turtles. So variety is a given fact around Bali.

No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced diver already – Bali offers the right dive sites for each level. Especially underwater photographers will enjoy the wide choice of muck-diving spots (muck-diving describes the search for mostly tiny and often rare species such as nudibranchs, crabs and shrimp, that are often very well camouflaged and thus hard to spot) as well as the often seen large schools of fish that seem to be just there, waiting for the photographers. The experienced dive guides at diving CANDIDASA will happily recommend the best dive sites to make your dives unforgettable.  

On Bali, both off-shore divers as well as boat-diving enthusiasts will enjoy a wide number of excellent dive spots. 

Below you will find just a short list of our dive sites. There are some world-famous classics as well as some rather unknown spots. Of course we would love to explain you all dive spots, but as they are nearly numberless, we have reduced our selection to some of our personal most favourite ones around Candidasa and Bali's east coast.

HOUSEREEF (CANDIDASA)

Only 3 short minutes by boat and you will reach our housereef, where we decent to about 6 metres depth above sandy bottom. This is where we do training dives and check dives – but we also enjoy this as an ideal spot for a relaxed shallow dive (max. 18 metres), for instance as third dive in the afternoon. The topography that makes this spot special: sandy areas mix with coral bommies and healthy reef, thus offering turtles, fish and nudibranchs ideal shelter. And we often see dolphins on the surface, so it’s only a matter of time, till we encounter them below the surface, too!

GILI MIMPANG (CANDIDASA)

Gili Mimpang consits of three rocks breaking the surface and is alco called „Batu Tiga“ – which translates as three rocks. Reaching from 5 – 30+ metres, this dive site offers sloping sandy bottoms and an impressive wall which is completely covered with hard and soft corals. Gili Mimpang is a great spot to see sharks, mainly white-tip reef sharks, but we have also spotted other, bigger species here. Occasionally, you will be able to spot wobbegong sharks or even the rare coral cat shark here!
Due to its fairly exposed location and the constant flow of nutrients, Gili Mimpang impresses with lots of life and is often visited by turtles, devil rays, mantas, tunas and mackerel, moray eels, octopus or batfish. During season, Gili Mimpang is one of the best spots to dive with Mola Molas (Oceanic sunfish) – just about 15 minutes away from our dive centre. 

Although Gili Mimpang is a suitable dive site for beginners, it should be dived by more experienced divers during full and new moon only. The shallower areas towards Bali also offer excelent snorkeling.

MIMPANG CORAL GARDEN (CANDIDASA)

Not many diving centres dive at the eastern side of Gili Mimpang – we believe that’s a mistake: Healthy corals in a diverse topography ranging from gentle slopes to walls that drop well beyond 40 metres. We often see schooling barracudas that don’t fear divers and majestically face into the current. With a bit of luck, we also spot reef sharks, turtles or hunting tunas, and of course the “usual suspects” like trevallies, groupers, angelfish, gobies or scorpionfish.
Most of the days, this is an easy dive site for all levels. Under certain conditions, however, only experienced divers should dive here, as currents can change in a glimpse.

 

GILI TEPEKONG (CANDIDASA)

This large volcanic rock lays just a short boat ride away from our dive centre and is very popular among experienced divers. Drop-offs, gentle slopes of coral and massive boulders that seem to be growing just out of the ground are commonly seen around this dive site at depths between 5 - 40+ metres. In addition to this, there are huge sponges and blood-red gorgonians, massive granite boulders where sharks often hide under and a under-water tunnel. The frequently strong and unpredictable currents provide a never-ending supply of nutrients to Gili Tepekong and neighbouring Gili Mimpang, attracting a wide variety of fish from small reef fish to tunas, barracudas, snappers or sweetlips which can sometimes be seen in huge schools. We frequently also see turtles here - and can watch mola molas in the cleaning station. Due to its size, Gili Tepekong offers various possible dives – our experienced guides will decide on the site, which dive site is best suitable for the conditions.

TEPEKONG TUNNEL (CANDIDASA)

TEPEKONG TUNNEL (CANDIDASA)

While most divers explore the east side of Gili Tepekong only, we believe this site has much more to offer – and that the tunnel is actually a highlight. The upper entrance of this swim-through is located between bommies at around 18 metres. The deeper part, at approximately 24 metres, ends at a nice little wall which leads to a sandy slope (32 metres) where marble rays often rest. Turning south at the deeper exit, there are some huge gorgonians on the reef top housing pygmy seahorses.
Due to the depths this dive spot is rather reserved for more experienced divers and even though the tunnel is big enough to swim through, it is not ideal for claustrophobic divers. Your guide will decide on the spot, whether waves and currents allow this dive.

THE CANYON (CANDIDASA)

Just off the southwestern tip of Gili Tepekong there is The Canyon, starting at about 25 metres and dropping well past 40 metres. This dive spot is best known for the frequent sightings of sharks, mainly white-tip reef sharks, but you will also be able to see batfish and schools of surgeonfish, sweetlips or even Hump-head Parrotfish. In the blue there are often trevallies or even tunas passing, while there are lots of scorpionfish, leaf-scorpionfish, porcelain-crabs and nudibranchs in the shallower parts. Due to its depth and the common currents, this is a dive site for the experienced divers only.

GILI BIAHA – SHARK CAVE (CANDIDASA)

This small island, located right between Candidasa (south) and Amed (north), is entirely surrounded by healthy corals and offers various topographies between 5 - 40+ metres. At about 12 metres, on the inside of the L-shaped bay, there is a cave in which we frequently spot sleeping white-tip reef sharks, lobsters and lanternfish. On the The rough, wild beauty of this dive spot with its walls that just disapear in the beep ocean are the main reasons for divers from all over the globe to return again and again. Currents can be strong and we have also experienced occasional down-currents here – thus good diving skills and experience are required.

BIAHA SLOPE (CANDIDASA)

Gili Biaha offers a variety of topographies – the inside is mainly formed by steep walls, dropping well below 40 metres, whereas we find a nice slope at the northern side, interspersed with coral bummies, some huge gorgonians, cracks and crevices, extending well beyond 40 metres. On dives where the current comes from the south, we are perfectly protected at the slope.  When the current comes from the north, it splits just off the island and offers a fantastic spectacle: while reef sharks patrol the reef, red-tooth trigger fish, banner fish, batfish, fusiliers and others wait for the current to bring nutrients while tunas, mackerels, trevallies and barracudas prey for incautious fish. On the reef itself, scorpionfish, mantis shrimp, octopus and ribbon eels and others wait for their turn to strike.  

THE JETTY (PADANG BAI / CANDIDASA)

A poorly planned and executed tourism project gave us this truly magnificent dive spot. This jetty was originally built to be used for the ferries connecting Bali and Lombok and to attract cruise ships to stop here, too. However, the site proved to be too shallow for bigger ships - and has since then been deserted. Diving in-between the concrete pillars, that are completely covered in sponges and corals, in depths between 3 - 16 metres, you will find an incredible abundance of life. Dives in which we spot up to seven giant frogfish are not rare. And since even the biggest frog fish are born as juveniles, we also spot them here, too. A school of batfish is usually patrolling between the pillars while juvenile mackerels, barracudas, catfish, sardines and other fish swirl around in big numbers. Multiple kinds of nudibranchs, shrimp, crabs or octopus – including rare species such as mimicry octopus, coconut octopus or wonderpuss – squid and cuttlefish have been spotted here since the jetty has been finished and deserted. Other exotic species like blue-ringed octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, various ghost pipefish, stargazer, leaf scorpion fish, seahorses … have been reported here as well. As for the beauty of the dive spot, there are different opinions. But it definitely ranks among the top-3 for all those divers interested in muck-diving and macro. And underwater photographers just love the jetty!

BLUE LAGOON (PADANG BAI)

After just about 15 minutes drive either by car or boat we reach one of the best known macro-spot of Bali, if not even Indonesia: the Blue Lagoon. At first glimpse, this dive site that gently slopes down to approximately 22 metres might not be impressive – but look closely.  It is not unlikely that you will spot up to 20 different nudibranchs within a couple of minutes, in addition to crabs and shrimps of all kinds or cuttlefish and squid. Sharks, such as white-tip reef sharks, wobbegong or cat sharks are also frequently spotted. Due to its protected location, Blue Lagoon is perfectly suitable for beginners and check dives. It is also a real jewel for night dives and snorkelers.

TURTLE NECK (PADANG BAI)

At its northern end, Blue Lagoon turns into a nice wall, stretching from the surface to depth of about 30 metres. Consisting of lava flows, the entire wall hosts mantis shrimp, moray eels, long-fin comets, juvenile batfish in its cracks and crevices, while we often seen tunas, mackerels and fusiliers, but also sharks passing in the blue. Numberless feather stars and anemones on the wall, as well as coral blocks and sandy slopes on both ends of the wall offer lots of macro life, such as nudibranchs, orang-utan crabs, various shrimp and – with a bit of luck – even seahorses.
Strong currents are rare, so we are nearly always able to dive here – and also at night the wall has lots to offer.

TEMPLE / TANJUNG SARI (PADANG BAI)

Just south of the Blue Lagoon there are two adjoining dive sites: Temple and, a bit further towards Padang Bai, Tanjung Sari. Sandy slopes and stag corals interchange with coral blocks until about 30 metres depth. We often encounter sweetlips, groupers, batfish, moray eels, Titan Triggerfish as well as turtles, occasional reef sharks and trevallies.
Both dive sites are easy to dive, especially Temple is well protected of currents, and is also great for night dives.

JEPUN (PADANG BAI)

Our dive spot Jepun - which means frangipani - is located between the Jetty and the Blue Lagoon. In depth ranging between 5 to approx. 25 metres, this drift dives is mainly about macro. Frogsfish, seahorses, nudibranchs of all sorts, ghost pipefish, razor fish, cuttlefish, orang utan crabs, cleaner shrimp, ribbon eels, octopus and much more can be found above the sandy patches and in between the corals. The shallower reefs are home to countless reef fish, turtles and - with a bit of luck - sharks.
At about 20 metres, we can dive around the wreck of a speedboat, which is home to glass fish and leaf scorpion fish, various artificial reefs offer many more impressions.
Jepun is a great place for beginners and pros alike, the protected location is also ideal for snorkelers and night dives!

WRECK OF THE USAT LIBERTY (TULAMBEN)

After being hit by a Japanese torpedo on the morning of January 11th, 1942, the crew beached the 120-meter long US trading vessel in order to rescue the cargo. When in 1963 Bali’s holy mountain, the volcano Gunung Agung erupted, an earthquake rolled the ship into deeper waters – where it remained until today. The wreck is literally covered in colourful soft- and hard-corals, anemones and gorgonians that form a lively contrast to the black volcanic sand that surrounds the wreck. The wreck itself, abundance of fish and marine life as well as the absence of any current make the Liberty wreck a suitable dive spot for both, beginners and pros. It is also an excellent spot for night dives. Starting at about 7 metres, this wreck is also a popular place for snorkeling.

CORAL GARDEN (TULAMBEN)

A shallow reef with depth between mainly 3 - 12 metres at the central section of Tulamben's beach, Coral Garden is also a superb spot for beginners and night dives. Huge table corals, anemones, sponges and soft corals in abundance, paired with huge numbers of various fish species. We often spot ribbon eels, cuttle fish and octopus, but also different species of shrimp and crabs, angelfish, clown fish, nudibranchs and ghost pipefish. With a bit of luck, you might also see bumphead parrotfish or blacktip reefsharks patrolling the reef or giant groupers laying in ambush for prey. Coral Garden is also a good spot for snorkelers!

DROP OFF (TULAMBEN)

This impressive wall, that stretches into depth of about 70+ metres was a result of Mt. Agung's last eruption on 1963, when lava cooled down and finally hardened to form this fantastic underwater landscape. The Drop Off at Tulamben is probably one of Bali’s most favourite dive sites. The steep rocks are covered with beautiful corals, sponges and gorgonians that grow up to 2 m in size. We have encountered patrolling reef sharks, but also find different kinds of nudibranchs, moray eels, groupers, humphead parrotfish , leaf scorpionfish and a lot of other underwater animals. As currents at the Drop Off are mostly none to moderate, this dive site is also well suited for snorkelers and night dives.

BATU KELEBIT (TULAMBEN)

Just about 15 minutes by jukung – one of the traditional Balinese fishing boats - off the coast of Tulamben, we reach the dive site Batu Kelebit – two submerged pinnacles. Following the sloping reef, you will see the dramatic beauty of this dive site: Three steep ridges that are covered with huge sponges, healthy corals and a big number of gorgonians. Sand channels separate the ridges in depth between 25 – 40 metres. Large schools of trevallies are commonly spotted and the sandy parts are home to gobies and other bottom-dwellers. Plankton-rich (and sometimes cold) waters attract larger pelagics, so with a bit of luck you might spot reef sharks, turtles, tunas or barracudas. Even mantas and - during season – mola molas can be seen at Batu Kelebit.

SERAYA (TULAMBEN)

When you first get there, you might wonder what is so special about Seraya, a dive site with volcanic sand that is only scarcely interspersed with corals. Yet Seraya is certainly among the most interesting dive sites of Bali! The reason is a vast number of critters, thus mostly small and rare creatures, that can be found and photographed here, and various cleaning stations that attract visitors. A wide range of shrimp and crab species, among them harlequin shrimp and decorator crabs, mimicry octopus and many different, often rare kinds of nudibranchs can be found here. Bigger fish such as angelfish, groupers, sweetlips, batfish or moray eels also often make good motives for photographers.

BATU BELAH (TULAMBEN)

BATU BELAH (TULAMBEN)

Batu Belah is a cave that was formed during the last eruption of Mt Agung in 1963. Through this cave, freshwater flows into the ocean and creates a miraculous flora and fauna where it mixes with saltwater. Entering the water from the shore and diving to the left, we frequently spot ghost pipefish, purple leaf-scorpionfish, seahorses or the rare rhinopias here, among many other things. The sloping sandy bottom starts at around 3 metres and passes well below 30 metres, but already at depths of around 15 - 20 metres you will be able to find nearly all of the rare creatures.

Diving to the right, the dive spot shows a very different character, more wall and reef than sloping sand. We often find clouds of juvenile surgeonfish, fusiliers and other reef fish - and the predators hunting them. A great spactacle.

Usually there is no currents at Batu Belah, making this a suitable dive site for beginners and more experienced divers alike. And underwater photographers usually are very happy here, too.

PYRAMIDES (AMED)

Jemeluk Bay, just a couple of km away from Amed, is very close to what most people expect under diving in tropical conditions: Nearly no currents, warm waters, usually very good visibility of about 25 metres, impressive corals and an impressively rich underwater fauna. Usually you will either dive the west or the east part of the bay. The west side of the bay is famous for its artificial reefs, that were built here in the 90ies where the natural reef ends and the sandy bottom starts. The form of these artificial reefs gave this site its name: “The Pyramids”.
Among moray eels, ghost pipefish, lionfish, nudibranchs and reef-sharks, you might spot schooling jackfish, forming a bait ball and turtles over the corals. But don't forget to look closer inside the concrete structures - we usually find plenty of macro here, too! Nudibranchs, leaf-scorpionfish, crabs and shrimp, even pygmy seahorses can be found here.

THE WALL (AMED)

The east side of Jemeluk Bay is famous for diving since the 80ies. Just a few meters away from the beach, the nicely covered wall reaches depth of 20 to 50+ metres, offering homes to plenty of reef fish and macro. Keep your eyes open for napoleon wrasses, humphead parrotfish, turtles and reef sharks.
Diving The Wall is relatively easy and usually there are no currents, thus it is a great dive site for beginners and pro's alike.
Jemeluk Bay is also perfectly well suited for snorkeling and night diving, too.

JAPANESE WRECK (AMED)

Just about 7 km east of Amed, inside a small bay, lays a small Japanese steel freighter in depth between 6 – 12 metres. Although slightly less impressive than the USAT Liberty in Tulamben, this wreck is a beauty of its own and full of surprises. It is completely covered in soft corals and gorgonians, so keep your eyes open for pygmy seahorses. Parrotfish, angelfish and many reef fish add even more colours to the scene and increase the contrast to the black volcanic sand beneath. The healthy coral reef stretches in greater depth of 40+ metres and is home to many nudibranchs, reef fish, moray eels, rays and others. Although the bay itself is well protected, visibility might be limited due to strong winds and waves. But in general, the Japanese wreck is a great place for snorkeling, too.

GILI SELANG DRIFT (SERAYA)

Gili Selang is a tiny island, just a few metres off the most eastern tip of Bali that we reach after approximately 40 minutes by boat. Entering the water on the north side above beautiful corals, we follow the reef on our right shoulder in max. 30 metres, drifting all the way to the southern side. With a bit of luck, we might encounter large predators like sharks, but also turtles and masses of schooling fish in all shapes and sizes. Due to its exposed location, currents around Gili Selang can be fierce. Our guide will evaluate the conditions upon arrival and choose the best possible route.

GILI SELANG NORTH (SERAYA)

The corals on the north side of Gili Selang are pristine and follow a slope to depths of beyond 30 metres. This makes the north side an excellent alternative, should the currents prevent you from drifting around the island, for less experienced divers or for the second dive. Above the staghorn corals, we often see turtles, but also scorpion fish, batfish and schooling sweetlips or snappers are very common, along trevallies and tunas. You might even find pygmy seahorses in the fans – or their common cousins in the seagrass!

GILI SELANG SOUTH (SERAYA)

The protected waters south of Gili Selang are our preferred spot for the second dive! Entering the water above the shallow corals, we follow the reef that changes into separated bommies and sandy patches the deeper we go (max. 30 metres). Depending on the current, we may witness breath-taking hunting scenes! Macro-fans will enjoy a great variety of nudibranchs, but also moray eels, lobsters and lots of colourful reef fish. This protected dive site is perfectly suitable for beginners.

CRYSTAL BAY (NUSA PENIDA)

Crystal Bay, which is located right at the entrance of the channel between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, is probably the most famous dive site of Nusa Penida. Visibility at this dive spot is usually great and reaches 20 – 50 metres, thus the name.
A steady supply of nutrients coming from the open ocean leads to a wide range of untouched corals and fish. The bat cave, in which you may dive into if conditions are right and where you may see bats and reef sharks, is another highlight. However, Crystal Bay is best known for the relatively frequent encounters with the oceanic sunfish (mola mola) during season (approx. between July – November), when these magnificent creatures visit cleanings stations in depths around 25 metres at the sloping bottom of this bay.
Please be noted that waters can be cold during mola mola season – temperatures can be as low 18 °C – at Nusa Penida and the east coast of Bali.

MANTA POINT (NUSA PENIDA)

Probably the best spot to see manta rays feeding and being cleaned on Bali. Only about 20 km off to the south of Bali, this bay is rich on plankton on which mantas feast. The poorer the visibility, the higher the chance to see these gentle giants of the seas that can grow up to 6 m wingspan. Even though mantas are very frequently spotted here, you still need a certain amount of luck to see the mantas – we cannot guarantee them being there! But on lucky days, you will be able to watch up to 25 manta rays circling the various cleaning stations. During Mola Mola season, you may also be able to spot Oceanic Sunfish here, although at greater depths.
Usually this is a shallow dive, not deeper than 18 m. Sometimes waves and swell make diving in this bay and/or getting back into the boat a bit challenging. Good buoyancy skills are therefore – like for any other dive – essential.

SENTAL, PED, SD (NUSA PENIDA)

These three dive spots in the north of Nusa Penida are rather similar in terms of underwater topography and marine life. Due to the currents, that are nearly always present here, most dives here are drift dives and the guide will decide spontaneously where to dive, depending on the conditions. The reef stretches along the cost in steep slopes in depth of 3 – 25 metres and mainly consists of staghorn corals as well as some deeper walls (mainly between PED and Sental). Although you will find a vast number of colorful reef fish, sweetlips, moray eels and also Napoleon wrasses, it is the pelagics that make these dive sites that attractive: eagle rays, manta rays and sharks and – during season – even mola molas can be seen here rather often.

TOYAPAKEH (NUSA PENIDA)

Toyapakeh has got an impressive and variable underwater-topography as well as rich marine life and is THE dive spot around Nusa Penida for many divers. Rugged bommies that are full of life due to the currents and their never-ending supply of plankton, large schools of fish, sea turtles and mola molas are the highlights here, over which some tend to forget their spottings of sweetlips, moray eels, scorpion fish, ribbon eels or orang-utan crabs or other underwater creatures. Our experienced guides will decide on the spot where we will start our dive depending on the currents – the single most influential factor around Nusa Penida.

diving CANDIDASA -
diving the coral triangle

diving CANDIDASA
c/o Candi Beach Resort & Spa
Mendira Beach, Sengkidu
Candidasa, Karangasem
Bali 80871 Indonesia
Tel: 0062 812 367 702 81
Email: candidasa (at) diving.de