Diving in Indonesia is a feast for the eyes. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, which means tons of beautiful islands, an abundance of coral reefs and endless diving possibilities. It is estimated that Indonesia hosts 20% of the world’s coral reefs and boasts some of the most diverse marine life in the world. Whether you are a beginner or advanced diver, prefer to island hop or visit the dive sites aboard a liveaboard – Indonesia has a range of options for any diver.
Diving in Indonesia – Best Dive Spots
This beautiful idyllic island group off the south coast of Bali is easily accessed by boat. There are a variety of transportation options to reach Lembongan such as a 1/2 hour speed boat, local boat or you can charter your own boat from the mainland. Once you arrive in Lembongan, you have your choice at multiple beautiful bays to rest your head. The boat drops you off at the central pier which has tons of accommodation options, or you can head over to the scenic Mushroom Bay or the heavenly Dream Beach. Getting around the island can be pretty difficult without a motor bike and despite having no island maps or street signs; the island is relatively easy to navigate.
There are numerous dive sites around the island; however, the majority are geared to more advanced divers as the currents can be relatively strong. If you manage to tag onto a dive shop’s trip going out to Manta Point, it’s well worth it. The lime stone cliffs descend straight into the water creating a dramatic landscape ideal for manta viewing. While there is an abundance of limestone, there is practically no coral and if the mantas are hiding, there isn’t anything to see except water, sand, limestone and your buddy. You should also take into consideration that large swells surround the area, so make sure your dive company leaves early morning before the winds start to pick up. The mantas, if unprovoked by humans, can be pretty playful gliding above divers as they watch in awe from below
Another great dive spot is Crystal Bay located on the south west side of Nusa Pendia, a bay with a rocky island in the middle of it called crystal bay. This site is also known as the home of the Sunfish/mola mola (the mysterious, large flattened fish with an elongated dorsal and virtual fins and lumpy undergrowth instead of a tail fin). The reef is located at 5 meters and the coral reef has a white sandy base. This dive site is covered in anemones, hard and soft corals and offers some of the best diving conditions in Indonesia. Up welling from the deeper water south of Bali, keeps the visibility in this area superb allowing divers to a chance to see jacks, mackerel, mantas, turtles, tuna and sharks.
The most popular dive site on Lembongan is Toyapakeh as there are tons of coral formations filled with an abundance of fish and in the deeper areas. At this dive spot, divers also have the chance to glimpse the fabled mola mola.
Price: Depending on your bargaining skills, dive prices range from $30 – 40 a dive. Trips out to Manta Point and Crystal Bay tend to be more expensive as they are further from Nusa Lembongan’s central pier. The oldest and cheapest dive shop is Lembongan Divers.
This popular dive spot in Northern Bali is a great dive site for beginner divers or those looking to explore a shipwreck. Located off a volcanic ash beach buried several meters below the water is the USAR Liberty Shipwreck. This cargo ship, carrying guns during WWII, was torpedoed by the Japanese off Lombok. The boat is about 120 meters long and while broken into several pieces, you can still see guns, toilets and boilers. Considering this is known as the best dive site in Bali, it can get very busy- so make sure you get there early.
Prices: you can reach Tulemben from pretty much anywhere on the island or stay overnight and beat the crowds. If you choose to stay in Tulamben can stay and dive with Tulamben Wreck divers (day dives $33 night dives $38 and accommodation starting from $26 p/n) or Scuba Duba Doo who offers free pick- ups in the Kuta region.
These three perfectly formed white droplets of sandy islands off the coast of Lombok are a great place for both beginner and advanced divers to see an array of fish. While the coral is nothing to write home about due to rampant fish bombing (where fisherman bomb coral reefs forcing all dead fish hiding in the reefs to float to the surface) it is still a beautiful place to spot a great variety of fish. The waters are irresistibly warm and you could spend all day diving without the faintest chill. Whether you choose to stay in Gili Trawangan (Gili’s party island) Gili Air (more relaxed island without the glitz of Gili T) Gili Meno (the tiniest island of the 3 and the most rustic) the dive sites are all within a 15 minute boat drive of one another. So make sure you choose your accommodation based on your interests not the dive spots.
This dive site has moderate visibility levels and a strong drift, but it still boasts an array of fish such as puffers, schools of trevally and sweetlips which you can catch a glimpse of as you drift by.
This is hands down the most beautiful reef in the Gili islands with the most abundant source of fish. The visibility is comparable to Soraya but there is little to-no current, giving you plenty of time for some up close and personal fish encounters. Divers tend to see stone fish, eels, blue spotted stingrays, turtles and starry puffer fish.
This wreck is a result of a shady pier that collapsed off the coast of Gili Meno and has now been declared a dive site. The coral, as most dive spots in the Gili’s, is mediocre (at best) and the wreck is nothing that spectacular but it is interesting to explore what’s hiding in the wreck’s many holes. However, if you only have a few days, you can definitely pass on this site. We managed to see a school of snapper, baby lionfish, a hawksbill turtle and tons of other divers.
This famous dive site is best seen early in the morning before the hoards of divers arrive and when the current isn’t too strong. Depending on the day and time of the day, the current can both be super strong or nice and clam. It’s a good idea to get your deep diving certification (30 meters) before heading out to shark point since the sharks tend to cruise around 27 meters. If the water is relatively calm you can see white / black tip reef sharks, turtles, harlequin sweet lips, schools of jacks and schools of unicorn fish.
Prices: There are tons of reputable dive shops on all 3 islands. Some of the more well known shops are Manta Divers (on Gili T and Gili Air), the originators of zen mod bungalows, Tranwangan Dive, which also offers swanky bungalows (Gili T) and Oceans 5 (Gili Air), Blue Marlin (Gili Meno, Gili T and Gili Air). All prices are fixed on all 3 islands, starting from $38 for a fun dive and a discover scuba dive from $60. Whatever dive shop you decide to head out with, double check their dive master to diver ratios (the max should be 1:4), as well as the number of divers per boat and ensure that their equipment is in good working order.
If you are looking for gorgeous coral, 29 Celsius plus water and so many fish you can barely see in front of you, the Komodo Islands are definitely worth the trip. The small town of Labuan Bajo, on the eastern side of Flores, is the jumping off point for diving in Komodo. Labuan Bajo can easily be reached from Bali either on Transnusa, Lion Air or Garuda airlines (costing anywhere from 600,000- 1,000,000 one way). This sleepy little town is lined with multiple dive shops and travel agencies offering tours to Komodo and Rinca island to get up close and personal with the Komodo dragon, dive live-aboards or 3 day tours to Kelimutu Lakes.
If you are planning on doing a lot of diving its definitely worth looking into a liveaboard as it takes about 3 hours travel time to get to/from the dive spots. Similar to the Gilis, the dive prices are fixed at $40 U.S. a dive. However, you can jump on a liveaboard for 1-1.5 million Rp p/d ($110.00- 170.00) which includes up to 4 dives, all food, drinks and accommodation. If you do the math that’s free accommodation, food and drink plus one free dive for the cost of 3 dives. In addition, there is nothing better than rolling out of bed, putting your dive gear on and jumping into the water for an early morning five followed by a hearty breakfast.
Beautiful coral wall where large coral boulders hide giant trevally, sharks .lionfish and snappers.
The endless amount of orange coral provides an ideal ground for black tips and hanger fish.
This underwater jungle is teeming with an abundance of fish.
The coral in this area, similar to the coral at Manta Point in Nusa Lembogan, is nothing spectacular but if you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of the rays, black tip reef sharks and trevallies.
Known as one of the most colourful dive sites in Komodoo, this space is inundated with beautiful soft coral coverage. While the current can be relatively strong, if you manage to grab onto a piece of coral and store up on some air, you can see some beautiful fish and coral; such as, octopus, Napoleon wrasse, schools of trevally, blue spotted rays, frogfish and scorpion-fish.
It’s a tough choice, who takes the cake for the most beautiful dive site- Castle or Crystal Rock but Castle Rock’s visibility makes it a truly spectacular dive. At approximately 20 meters depth there is excellent soft coral growth and numerous seafans that host pygmy seahorses. While the currents can be even stronger at this site, you are pretty much guaranteed at least one shark sitting, schools of jacks, octopuses and rays.
This passageway protected by two large walls is a great spot to see an array of fish hiding in the hard coral’s crevices and soft corals tentacles. We spotted giant moray eels, white tip reef sharks, triggerfish, schools of bat fish and hump-head parrotfish.
This site should only be attempted with an experienced dive master as there is a strong down current. As a result of the strong current, the coral is pretty much pristine making it ideal for fish viewing conditions. The coral wall is inhabited by layers of beautiful fish. The top of the reef is covered in colourful corals, invertebrate life and thousands of brilliant reef fish. At deeper depths, along the steep walls, you can spot some larger fishes such as sharks, napoleon wrasse, giant trevally and large schools of rainbow runners.
Price: Dives on a per dive basis are $35 and liveaboards start from $100 p/d. Some reputable liveaboard companies are Komodo Cruises where you can choose from 3 categories of boats (MV Charlie the Mangguana and the Mona Lisa) which allows you to jump on or off any liveaboard affording divers with great flexibility. Another reputable company for both day trips and liveaboards is DiveKomodo and they offer 2 dives from 600 000 RP ($67)