Where to dive around Bali, Nusa Penida and the Gili Islands…

May 16, 2024

Bali, Nusa Penida, and the Gili Islands are renowned for their exceptional diving spots, attracting divers from around the world. These regions offer a rich tapestry of underwater landscapes, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. Let's explore the most notable diving locations in each of these areas.



Tulamben is perhaps the most famous diving spot in Bali, largely due to the USAT Liberty wreck. This World War II shipwreck, easily accessible from the shore, is covered in coral and home to a multitude of marine species. Divers can encounter barracudas, parrotfish, and sometimes even pygmy seahorses. The Liberty wreck, lying between 5 to 30 meters, is suitable for all levels of divers.


Amed, located on Bali's northeast coast, offers a quieter diving experience with a variety of dive sites. The Jemeluk Bay is known for its clear waters, healthy coral gardens, and abundant marine life. The Pyramid dive site features artificial reef structures that have become a haven for fish and invertebrates. Amed is also famous for muck diving, where divers can find rare macro critters like nudibranchs and frogfish.

Padang Bai

Padang Bai, a small port town in eastern Bali, is a gateway to several fantastic dive sites. The Blue Lagoon is known for its calm waters and colorful coral reefs, making it perfect for beginners. For more experienced divers, the Jetty is a haven for macro photography, with sightings of ornate ghost pipefish, leaf scorpionfish, and various nudibranchs. The nearby Gili Tepekong and Gili Mimpang offer more challenging dives with the chance to see reef sharks and larger pelagic species.

Nusa Dua

While primarily known for its luxury resorts, Nusa Dua also offers some interesting dive sites. The Nusa Dua Wall provides an easy drift dive along a vibrant coral wall. The highlight here is the variety of soft and hard corals, as well as the occasional turtle or reef shark.

Nusa Penida

Crystal Bay

Crystal Bay is one of the most popular dive sites around Nusa Penida, famous for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. The bay is a hotspot for the elusive mola mola (ocean sunfish), which can be seen from July to October. Divers can also expect to see a variety of reef fish, sea turtles, and healthy coral formations. The currents here can be strong, making it suitable for more experienced divers.

Manta Point

Manta Point is the place to go for encounters with manta rays. Located on the south side of Nusa Penida, this dive site features cleaning stations where mantas come to be cleaned by smaller fish. Divers can often see these majestic creatures gliding gracefully through the water. Besides mantas, the site is home to other marine life such as bamboo sharks, octopus, and an array of reef fish.


Toyapakeh is renowned for its strong currents and excellent visibility. The site features large coral bommies, walls, and slopes covered in vibrant corals and teeming with marine life. Divers can spot large schools of fish, barracudas, and sometimes even dolphins. The site's dynamic environment and biodiversity make it a favorite among experienced divers.

Blue Corner

Blue Corner is another advanced dive site on Nusa Penida, known for its thrilling drift dives. The site offers dramatic underwater topography with steep slopes and terraces. It's a great spot for seeing large pelagic species such as sharks, rays, and sometimes even mola mola. Due to the strong currents and depth, this site is recommended for experienced divers.

The Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan, the largest of the Gili Islands, offers numerous dive sites suitable for all levels of divers. 

- Shark Point: As the name suggests, Shark Point is famous for sightings of white-tip and black-tip reef sharks. The dive site features a sloping reef that descends into deeper waters, where divers can also encounter turtles, rays, and schools of barracudas.

- Halik Reef: Halik Reef is known for its beautiful coral gardens and diverse marine life. This site is great for both beginners and advanced divers, offering a mix of shallow coral reefs and deeper slopes. Divers can see a variety of reef fish, moray eels, and sometimes even eagle rays.

- Bounty Wreck: The Bounty Wreck is an artificial reef created from a sunken pier platform. The structure is covered in corals and attracts a wide range of marine species, including schools of snappers, groupers, and lionfish. The wreck sits in shallow waters, making it accessible to all levels of divers.

Gili Meno

Gili Meno is the quietest of the three Gili Islands, offering serene diving experiences.

- Meno Wall: Meno Wall is a popular dive site featuring a vertical drop-off that descends to about 22 meters. The wall is adorned with soft and hard corals, sponges, and gorgonian sea fans. Divers can spot turtles, moray eels, and an array of colorful reef fish.

- Meno Slope: Meno Slope is known for its gentle gradient and excellent visibility. The site is home to a variety of marine life, including cuttlefish, octopus, and schools of fusiliers. It’s a great spot for night dives, where divers can see nocturnal creatures such as lobsters and crabs.

Gili Air

Gili Air combines the tranquility of Gili Meno with the vibrancy of Gili Trawangan.

- Air Wall: Air Wall offers a spectacular vertical wall dive covered in colorful corals and sponges. The site is teeming with marine life, including angelfish, triggerfish, and sometimes even reef sharks. The wall dive is suitable for divers of all levels.

- Hans Reef: Hans Reef is a muck diving site known for its macro life. Divers can find a variety of small critters such as nudibranchs, frogfish, and pipefish. The sandy bottom and coral patches provide an excellent environment for underwater photography.

Practical Considerations for Divers

Best Time to Dive

The best time to dive in Bali, Nusa Penida, and the Gilis is during the dry season, from May to September. During this period, the weather is stable, and the seas are generally calmer, providing optimal diving conditions. The visibility is typically at its best, ranging from 15 to 30 meters, depending on the site.

Diving Conditions

- Currents: Some sites, particularly around Nusa Penida and the Gilis, are known for strong currents. These can make for exhilarating drift dives but also require careful planning and experience. Always dive with a local guide who is familiar with the conditions.

- Water Temperature: The water temperature varies throughout the year, generally ranging from 26°C to 29°C. However, certain dive sites, like those around Nusa Penida, can experience thermoclines, where the temperature can drop significantly.

Marine Life

The waters around Bali, Nusa Penida, and the Gilis are part of the Coral Triangle, known for its incredible marine biodiversity. Divers can expect to see a vast array of marine species, from tiny macro critters to large pelagic fish. Common sightings include:

- Manta Rays: Best seen at Manta Point on Nusa Penida.

- Mola Mola: Commonly spotted around Nusa Penida from July to October.

- Turtles: Frequently seen around the Gilis and many sites in Bali.

- Reef Sharks: Often encountered at Shark Point, Gili Trawangan.

- Macro Life: Nudibranchs, frogfish, and pygmy seahorses are prevalent in muck diving sites like Amed and Hans Reef.

Dive Centers and Certification

All three regions have numerous dive centers offering a range of services, from guided dives to certification courses. It’s advisable to choose a dive center with a good reputation, certified by organizations such as PADI or SSI. Many centers offer courses from beginner to advanced levels, including specialty courses like wreck diving and underwater photography.


Bali, Nusa Penida, and the Gili Islands provide an unparalleled diving experience, with each area offering its unique underwater attractions. From the historic wrecks of Tulamben and the thrilling drift dives of Nusa Penida to the vibrant reefs of the Gilis, divers of all levels can find something to marvel at. Whether you are seeking encounters with majestic manta rays, the elusive mola mola, or the intricate beauty of macro life, these regions are sure to deliver unforgettable underwater adventures.

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