Most people flying into Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport will head west out of Denpasar. They’re going to the popular tourist traps of Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu, or even further north to Ubud.
They often won’t even consider heading east, along the less-populated coast.
And they don’t know what they’re missing.
The south coast is well-known for its surf, but Bali’s eastern coastline boasts some of the best scuba diving in the region.
Big Ocean Dive runs two full-service trips to different resorts, both beautiful in their own distinctly Balinese fashion. But, as with any good dive trip, you’ll find the real beauty outside the resort, and under the sea.
Tulamben: A Sunken War Museum 🚢
Tulamben is the most famous dive site in Bali. Once a quiet seaside village, things started getting busy with the discovery of the wreck of the USS Liberty in the 1980s.
Lying just 40m from the shore, this sunken WWII battleship is the most accessible wreck you will find. In fact, it’s generally considered the best shore-entry wreck dive in the world.
The USS Liberty sits between 5m and 30m deep, so there’s something for divers of all levels of experience. For beginners, it’s a rare and perfect opportunity to explore a world-class wreck dive site. Advanced divers can descend to 35m to check out the bow gun, now covered in coral and sea fans and barrel sponges.
This colossal ship – 120m long – is an underwater playground for marine life and scuba divers. Bumphead parrotfish have made themselves comfortably at home, and the colourful coral growing on the wreck attracts a huge variety of other sea creatures.
Macro enthusiasts will be delighted with the variety of nudibranchs, and – if you’re lucky – the pygmy seahorse. Besides bumphead parrotfish, there are plenty of bigger fish species including barracuda, turtles, and the giant potato cod.
There are some fun – and quite spooky – swim-throughs, which complete a pretty perfect picture of a wonderful wreck dive.
But Tulamben still manages to offer more than a massive sunken American WWII battleship. Coral Garden and Drop Off are two other great sites off the same shore. Coral Garden, in mild conditions and good visibility, is a macro photographer’s dream. At Drop Off, you’re likely to spot black tip reef sharks, barracuda, and lionfish.
Nusa Penida: Mola Mola & Manta Rays
If you’re more “big fish” than “big ship”, Nusa Penida – stunning, dramatic, exotic Nusa Penida – is for you.
You’re practically guaranteed to meet several of the locals at the appropriately-named Manta Point. Crystal Bay is home to the massive mola mola (oceanic sunfish) – one of the two heaviest known bony fish in the world.
Plus, there’s plenty of sharks, rays and turtles, as well as a magical sloping reef with incredible coral and tiny creatures that macro lovers will swoon over. Giant moray eels creep and retreat into giant formations of colourful fauna.
A medium current makes for a beautiful drift dive along the reef.
Let your buoyancy take you soaring through the slipstream and flying past the brilliant undersea garden. You really feel like you’re flying. Extra points if you pull off a ‘Superman’ pose as you speed past the GoPro.
All in all, the sites around Nusa Penida are bucket-list stuff.
A Warm & Comfortable Welcome
Balinese hospitality is legendary, and we’re always sure of a good time at both of the resorts we visit for our Bali dive trips.
Seabreeze Candidasa boasts not one, but two infinity pools, with views stretching over the Lombok Strait and towards the Indian Ocean. The beautiful beachside and garden bungalows are very comfortable, and meals are served at the restaurant by the sea. Swapping stories and showing off videos at dinner after a day’s diving feels even better in the ocean breeze.
Our next trip to Seabreeze is 22-26 October. Check out the itinerary and book your spot here.
Villa Alba is in Tulamben, and also offers two pools and open dining by the beach. And very good food it is too. These guys are dive specialists, and know much more than a thing or two about scuba. Ask lots of questions, and keep your GoPro fully charged!
Our next trip to Villa Alba is 8-12th October 2022. Read the itinerary and secure your spot here.