Bali is known around the world as a tourism hot spot, but what a lot of people don’t know is away from the bustling towns and bars there are some stunning areas of natural beauty both above and below the surface. And with regular affordable flights, Bali is the perfect getaway for someone on a budget, or those travelling with a non-diver. There’s no shortage of things to do and places to see.
Expect lush terraced rice paddies, soaring volcanoes and white sandy palm fringed beaches. Enjoy delicious Indonesian cuisine and vibrant culture, visit old temples, admire local crafts and venture 3,000m above sea level to the roof of this vibrant island.
Although the island is just over 152km wide there are a few distinctly different areas to explore.
Kuta / Legian – Kuta was originally discovered as a surfing mecca due to its long beach front facing the Indian Ocean. It is a popular stop for backpackers and is renowned as a playground for young Australians to shop, eat and drink. This is the nightlife capital of Bali.
Seminyak – just north of Legian, a more upscale, luxury, tourist suburb. Sophisticated and quieter than Kuta, this is the place for pampering yourself with high end spa treatments, boutique shopping, modern dining and trendy designer bar and nightclub hopping.
Tuban – only five minutes from the airport and close to Kuta. It has a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. As a prime family resort area, there are a range of tourist attractions and a variety of shops and restaurants nearby.
Candidasa – close to the central east coast dive sites, a quiet coastal getaway with lovely ocean views. The hills and rice paddies create a scenic, green backdrop. Nightlife is minimal but restaurants are good. Several art/handicrafts shops line the main street. The Bat Cave Temple of Lawah, home to thousands of fruit bats, may be visited.
Tulamben – a small fishing village with a stone beach on the north-east coast of Bali, home to the wreck of the USS Liberty.
Ubud – located amongst rice paddies, forests, rivers and steep ravines in the central foothills of Bali. With it’s cooler temperatures and focus on the arts, crafts and culture of Bali, Ubud has become a popular tourist destination away from the busy coastal regions.
April to September, average temperatures min 23 – max 33.
October to March, average temperatures min 25 – max 33.
Inland tends to be cooler with more regular rainfall year round.
Notable tourist seasons are around Easter and between July and September during European summer holidays, and Christmas and New Year during Australian summer holidays. For a quieter experience we recommend travelling around May to June or September to October.
Please Note; Bali has a high hindu population and subsequently observes hindu new year which falls around March to April. During this time everything will be shut and everyone on the island, tourists included, are expected to remain as silent as possible. You will be expected to remain in the confines of your accommodation. There will be no flights, ferries or other transportation running.
Surfing is possible year round but the peak surf season generally runs from June to September through the dry season.
Bali diving is rather diverse, you can explore walls, coral ridges, bommies, wrecks, muck diving and drift dives. Expect abundant macro life and the occasional pelaic, such as turtle, shark, manta and mola mola.
The Lombok Strait is a deep water trench off the Asian continental shelf. The volume of tidal water flowing through this channel creates challenging diving with strong, shifting currents and often great visibility resulting in large pelagic encounters off Bali’s east coast.
A great way to experience the variety of dive sites on the island, and to explore the diversity of the above water attractions, is to take a dive safari. These trips allow you to explore all around the island.
The dive sites are spread around the island. If you’d like to visit all four corners of the island to enjoy the best dive areas, then consider taking a dive safari spending 2-3 nights in each area and diving en-route.
24° – 28°C; 3 – 5mm wetsuit
Temperatures around the Candi dasa region can drop to 20°C during upwellings when searching for mola mola
Diving is conducted year round in Bali but conditions will vary throughout the year and from location to location. December to March has the lowest visibility. Mola Mola (sunfish) season is between July to mid-November with July and August having the most consistent sightings. Manta rays can be seen year round but the best time to see them is from April to June. Monsoon winds make for rougher seas between June to September around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.
Nusa Lembongan / Nusa Penida
Strong currents provide some good drift dives and pelagic encounters including manta rays, sharks and mola mola. The sunfish season is between July to mid-November with most consistent sightings in July and August. Manta rays can be seen year round but the best time to see them is from April to June. The water in this area is cooler (20-26ºC) due to the deep ocean upwellings from the south of Bali. Monsoon winds make for rougher seas between June to September.
Padangbai / Candidasa
The dive sites around this area offer some of the most breathtaking diving in Bali. "Blue Lagoon" is an easy, sheltered dive on a sand bottom with excellent smaller marine life and is suitable for beginners and macro photographers. The other sites are small rocky islands off the coast with strong, unpredictable currents and healthy reefs, walls and canyons teeming with fish life and sharks. Again the water is cooler and there may be thermoclines.
This black sand bay has a diversity of sites from the muck diving of "Ghost Bay" to the rich reefs and coral formations of "Jemeluk Reef and Wall". There is also a Japanese wreck. Conditions are generally calm and the sites can be accessed from shore or by jukung (local boat). This is also a good area for snorkelers.
This is Bali's most famous diving area with an incredibly diverse ecosystem. There is a "House Reef" dropping to 25 metres consisting of table corals, anemones, sponges and soft corals housing blue ribbon eels, frogfish, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs and anemone fish along with black tip reef sharks and schools of bumphead parrotfish. Further down, the "Tulamben Wall" drops to 60 metres with large barrel sponges and cruising barracuda, tuna and trevally. There are also occasional sightings of mola mola, manta rays and whale sharks.
Tulamben is also home to the USS Liberty shipwreck, a 120 metre WWII cargo ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 11 January 1942 off the coast of Lombok. Unable to make it back to port in the north of Bali, the ship was beached at Tulamben until 1963 when the wreck slid into the bay due to the earth's tremors from Mount Agung's last volcanic eruption. The ship now lies 30 metres offshore almost parallel to the beach in 5-28 metres. Fairly broken up, it is completely covered in anemones, gorgonian fans, hard and soft corals. Over 400 species of fish can be found around the wreck from anthias, damsels and wrasse to resident big eye trevally, great barracuda, giant groupers, batfish and sweetlips. A Night Dive during full moon is a great experience as is an early morning visit by a sunfish (in season). The wreck can also be snorkeled.
There are more dive sites outside of the bay itself in the Tulamben area that are popular with photographers for macro and muck diving as well some pelagic sites where the occasional scalloped hammerhead has been seen.
Puri Jati and Secret Bay
These areas offer some good muck and critter diving. You will find sea grasses, sea pens and algae covered debris providing shelter and camouflage for seahorses, ghost pipefish, a variety of octopus and frogfish, cockatoo waspfish and gobies (amongst many other critters).
Menjangan is known for it's beautiful vertical, wall dives, warm water, white sand, calm conditions and good visibility (sometimes up to 50 metres in July to September). Suitable for divers and snorkelers of all levels. There are lots of nooks and crannies and overhangs to explore in the walls attracting lots of small fish. Search for pygmy seahorses amongst the colourful gorgonian fans. The "Anker Wreck", a small wooden boat, lies in 30-50 metres.
Not only is Bali full of natural wonders, there are infinite ways to get out and enjoy it. Whether you hike, horseback ride, kayak, four wheel drive or cycle, you’re sure to find your perfect way to explore this beautiful bustling island.
Bali is brimming with activities. If you’re a water baby who loves to be on top of the water as well as underneath you’re going to have a blast. There are plenty of spots to kayak or SUP. For the more adventurous there are white water rafting spots. Surfers will love “Surfers Paradise”, which provides a fantastic tropical getaway to catch some waves. If you’re into fishing you will find plenty of boats available to take you out to sit on the water and cast in your line. You’re never going to be short of ways to enjoy the water in Bali.
Immerse yourself in local culture, explore intricately decorated temples, watch fascinating cultural performances, admire artwork and crafts, dig into delicious food, relax during a traditional Balinese massage. Whether you do it on your own steam or enjoy a guided tour, there are boundless opportunities to enjoy local culture, heritage and history.
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