According to scientists, Bali (and Indonesia as a whole) is part of what is known as the Coral Triangle. If you dream of exploring the underwater world of Bali, the information gathered in this article will be invaluable to you.
Take a look at our list of the top 7 snorkeling spots in Bali, and you will discover untouched coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, sunken World War II ships, small sharks, giant mantas, and even the world's largest artificial coral reef!
Liberty Ship Wreck and Coral Garden - Tulamben
Manta Point - Nusa Penida
Menjangan Island - Buleleng
Biorock artificial reef - Pemuteran
Blue Lagoon - Padangbai
Swimming with Sharks - Serangan
Liberty Ship Wreck and Coral Garden
1-A. Explore vibrant coral reefs, fish, and a sunken ship in Tulamben.
Tulamben is probably the most famous spot among divers in Bali. It's here that you can find an American military shipwreck from World War II, which sank while passing through the Lombok Strait.
The wreckage of the ship lies at a depth of 30 meters on the seabed. The part of the ship submerged at this depth is only accessible to advanced divers. However, the upper part of the ship is at a depth of just 5 meters, and when the water is clear, the ship can be seen from the surface. Today, these shipwreck remains have become an artificial reef, completely covered with vibrant, healthy corals.
The economy of the village of Tulamben is heavily dependent on the diving industry, so local residents have agreed not to fish near the sunken ship, resulting in a significant increase in the fish population.
The ship is located right by Tulamben Beach. For your first time, we recommend hiring a guide.
How to get there: From Denpasar Airport and Kuta, Tulamben is a 3-3.5 hour drive depending on traffic. Individual transfers to Tulamben cost around 500,000 IDR per car.
If you don't plan to stay in Tulamben, you can join a one-day excursion, but keep in mind that there can be a lot of snorkelers around the ship when tourist buses arrive.
1-B. Coral Garden, Tulamben.
Coral Garden is a notable spot for snorkeling. It's a shallow reef that starts almost as soon as you enter the water.
The coral garden is a combination of original rocky reefs, soft and hard corals and artificial structures.
When you visit at different times of the day, you can discover clownfish, moray eels, octopuses, squid, barracudas, and other reef inhabitants here. It's an impressive sight. Be sure to take a look at the underwater temple. Now, it's beautifully covered with marine organisms.
Where else in Bali can you have a morning coffee with a view of one of the best snorkeling spots on the island?
It's truly a paradise.
How to get there: From Denpasar Airport and Kuta, Tulamben is about a 3-hour drive depending on traffic.
For the first time, it's essential to snorkel with a personal guide. They will show you the most interesting spots and help you navigate underwater.
Nusa Penida is the only place in Bali where you can always find manta rays.
These gentle giants, very curious and friendly, emerge from the depths.
They rise close to the surface and divers can easily swim among these beautiful creatures.
But, respect nature and don't try to touch them. It might scare them away.
Swimming so close to these enormous, intelligent creatures is one of the most incredible interactions between humans and animals.
Island of Nusa (Penida, Lembongan)
To reach Manta Point, you can only get there by boat.
A one-day trip from Kuta costs around $150, including transportation, food, and the excursion to "Manta Point." From Padang, it's about $120, and from Nusa Lembongan, the trip to Manta Point costs around $60.
2-B. Natural Nursery for Juveniles. Mangrove Forest, Nusa Lembongan
Reefs around Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan often suffer from strong currents, which can make snorkeling with a mask and snorkel unsafe.
The mangrove forests are located on the northern side of Nusa Lembongan Island, where the currents are weak, allowing you to enjoy snorkeling without worrying too much about being swept away.
The place is named after the mangrove forests located nearby, which serve as a "nursery" for thousands of juvenile fish before they venture out to the reefs.
To get to Mangrove Point, the best way is to stay on Nusa Lembongan. It's just a few minutes away by boat from any of the resorts on the island.
3-A. Swim over the abyss.
Menjangan is located on the coast of the beautiful Bali Barat National Park. Only a few tourists come here to swim. Menjangan boasts excellent diversity of deserted reefs.
The most spectacular of these is Pos Dua, known for providing incredible visibility - up to 40 meters deep.
Pos Dua begins as a shallow reef adjacent to a magnificent white sandy beach. If you swim a little further from the shore, you will enter a majestic underwater canyon with coral-encrusted walls that deepens to 40 meters.
The canyon walls are completely covered with hard corals teeming with colorful reef fish. There's a chance to encounter larger fish species like Napoleon wrasse and white-tip reef sharks here.
Since Menjangan is an uninhabited island, there is nowhere to stay directly on the island itself.
However, not far from the Bali Barat National Park, in the Pemuteran area on the west coast of Bali, boats depart from hotels daily for diving and snorkeling trips to Menjangan. If you're traveling from Kuta, the taxi fare is approximately 600,000 IDR.
3-B. Sea Turtles! Coral Garden. Menjangan Island.
The second "coral garden" on our list is located on the northwest coast of Menjangan Island and is probably the best for both beginners and more experienced underwater explorers.
The garden starts just 5 meters below the surface and is covered with thousands of anemones, which often serve as homes for clownfish.
While numerous small fish and crustaceans dart around the reef and captivate you for hours, along the reef's edge, you may encounter reef sharks, tunas, and rays.
Menjangan is considered the best place in Bali to swim with sea turtles. So, if you want to swim with wild turtles, it's worth doing it in Menjangan.
How to get there: Since Menjangan is an uninhabited island, there are no accommodations on the island itself. However, not far from the National Park on the west coast of Bali in the Pemuteran area, boats depart from hotels every day for diving and snorkeling trips to Menjangan.
From Kuta, you can take a taxi for approximately 600,000 IDR.
Sunken Japanese patrol boat from World War II
Cozy resort town of Amed, with its tranquil Lipah Bay and black sandy beach, is home to a remarkably rich reef covered in both soft and hard corals, inhabited by diverse fish. It's one of the easiest snorkeling spots in Bali. In the bay, you'll also find the remains of a Japanese patrol boat from World War II, which sank at a depth of just 6 meters. On days with good visibility, the wreckage can be seen from the surface.
The bottom of the ship is at a depth of only 12 meters, making it easily accessible. The shipwreck is covered in coral, where a wide variety of fish, crabs, octopuses, and other tropical creatures make their home.
Lipah Bay is a sheltered and safe place, ideal for swimmers of all levels. Thanks to the nutrient-rich reef, there is a very abundant marine flora and fauna here.
It's a relatively safe reef to snorkel without a guide, but stay close to the reef and don't venture too far into the open ocean.
Amed is located approximately 120 km from the airport, about a 3-hour drive.
The resorts in Amed are clustered around Lipah and Jemeluk bays. The best way to explore Lipah Bay is to simply walk along the beach and explore. In the calm, clear waters, you can easily spot the Japanese shipwreck just a few meters from the shore.
You can arrange for private transfers from Amed resorts or use private taxi services. A taxi from Kuta costs around 450,000 IDR, while a shared bus from Kuta is about 180,000 IDR.
4-B. Crystal Clear Waters of Jemeluk Bay in Amed.
If you're looking for a quiet and peaceful getaway, then Amed is your best choice.
Jemeluk Bay is a serene crescent-shaped bay in Amed and possibly one of the most picturesque beaches in Bali, with a view of Mount Agung.
Jemeluk is closer than Lipah for most hotels, and most holidaymakers snorkel there, just steps from their beach.
The water in Jemeluk is crystal clear and blue. It's easy to see many marine inhabitants here. Most of the corals grow at depths ranging from 12 meters to 22 meters.
You can use private transfer services from the Amed resort or take advantage of private taxi services. A taxi from Kuta costs around 450,000 IDR. A shared bus from Kuta costs about 180,000 IDR.
Biorock artificial reef
Biorock Reefs in Pemuteran.
In a small fishing village on Bali's remote northeast coast, you'll find the picturesque bay of Pemuteran.
Isolated from the tourist trail and most well-known as a starting point for trips to Menjangan Island, Pemuteran has its own laid-back rural charm. While Pemuteran is often overlooked in favor of Menjangan, it has recently been gaining the attention of marine researchers and divers.
Biorock is a cement-like material used to create structures that provide an ideal habitat for corals, oysters, mollusks, and other marine creatures, often reviving reefs that were previously damaged by storms. The largest Biorock project can be found in Pemuteran Bay.
There are several Biorock structures around Pemuteran Bay, and all of them are thriving and helping to restore fish populations in the area.
As an additional bonus, this secluded stretch of coastline is also one of the best places in Bali to encounter larger creatures such as sea turtles, reef sharks, and in rare cases, elusive whale sharks.
To get there: Take a bus from Ubung Terminal (about 15 km from the airport) to the nearest port town of Gilimanuk (about 4 hours), and then another 15 km to Pemuteran.
The reefs start almost right off the shore in shallow waters.
In addition to Tulamben, Padangbai on the central-eastern coast is another major diving and snorkeling hub in Bali. It is popular due to its proximity to world-class sites in Nusa Penida, and there are also excellent snorkeling opportunities closer to Padangbai itself.
The most famous snorkeling spot in Padangbai is the Blue Lagoon. Although the name may be somewhat misleading, the lagoon features a shallow coral reef. The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Bali, thanks to its convenient location. It is just a five-minute boat ride away from the main beach in Padangbai.
Almost always quiet and calm, with plenty of tropical fish. The Blue Lagoon offers many interesting spots for experienced and novice snorkelers who want to get closer to wildlife. Some people feed the fish from the boat, so they are very tame and not afraid at all.
Being in the midst of fish feeding is a true adventure!
How to get there: Blue Lagoon is the number one snorkeling spot in Bali, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a tour from any of the resort towns.
From Padangbai, it's a 5-minute boat ride to the Blue Lagoon.
Day trips from Kuta or Ubud, including lunch and transfers, cost around $75 per person.
It's much more cost-effective to visit the Blue Lagoon while staying in Padangbai itself.
It's about a 90-minute taxi ride from the airport, costing around 360,000 IDR.
Swimming with sharks
Unfortunately, shark fishing in Bali is still unregulated, and it's become a serious threat to these animals. The "Bali Sharks" program sounds like an important initiative for shark conservation. It offers an alternative fate for young sharks that are often killed and sold in local markets or sent to finning operations.
The founders of "Bali Sharks" have created an artificial "Shark Island" in Serangan, just a short boat ride away from the bustling town of Sanur.
It's heartening to know that "Bali Sharks" provides a sanctuary for these black-and-white reef sharks, giving them a chance at survival. The fact that they are eventually released back into the wild is a positive step toward preserving these beautiful creatures and maintaining the ecological balance of the oceans. Conservation efforts like this are crucial to protect marine life in the face of various threats.
The trip to "Shark Island" sounds like an exciting and educational adventure for those interested in the underwater world and animals. Interacting with sharks, observing their beauty and grace up close can be a truly remarkable experience. Nonetheless, it's important to note that not every guest may muster the courage to take this decisive step.
Shark Island is located approximately 5 minutes by boat from the North Pier on Pulau Serangi, near Agus Bar and Restaurant. If you are in the Kuta-Seminyak area, a complimentary transfer can be arranged.
Price: $100 (for adults), $90 (for children); children under 5 years old visit for free.
The standard tour lasts about 3 hours, including transportation and light snacks.
Opening hours: from 7 AM to 3 PM daily.
Great! Now that you know all the best snorkeling spots on the island of Bali, you're ready to enjoy some unforgettable adventures underwater. Remember the basic safety rules and respect for the surrounding nature during your snorkeling excursions. It's sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of your life, we promise!