Bali lies at the south-west tip of the Coral Triangle – an area generally considered to be the richest marine environment in the world. Covering six countries in total, the Coral Triangle stretches from the Philippines in the north, to the Malaysian state of Sabah in the west and the Solomon Islands to the east, with Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea in between.
The area’s marine biodiversity is simply stunning and is characterized by more than 600 species of coral and 3000 species of reef fish. To put those numbers into perspective – the Red Sea has around 200 coral species & 1000 fish species and the Caribbean 50 & 900 respectively .
For more information on the Coral Triangle check out the Nature Conservancy’s dedicated site.
Map of the Coral Triangle – Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy
But Bali also plays a major role with the Indonesian Throughflow – the phenomenal flow of water which is so big, that special measurements had to be created for it, and such an integral part of the Coral Triangle’s incredible bio-diversity.
The Lombok Strait, between the islands of Bali & Lombok, is one of three major channels that the Throughflow exits the Indonesian archipelago from as it pours south into the Indian Ocean.
It is estimated that around 20% of the Throughflow passes through the Lombok Strait providing the reefs on the east & northeast coastlines of Bali, and those on the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida in the middle of the Lombok Strait, a constant flow of water extremely rich in organic nutrients and planktonic eggs & larvae.
All of these factors combine to make for some great diving in Bali, but the island just does not have the street cred of say Sulawesi or Raja Ampat… probably because of it’s touristy reputation.
The diving in Bali can be separated into five distinct areas – the northwest region, the north coast, the northeast coast and the east coast, which includes Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida.
There is actually a 6th area, the south coast, but I have never been diving there and have heard nothing about it that would make me want to…
Diving Indonesia: Bali – The Northwest
There are three main areas of interest in the northwest with the first, and by far the largest, being the island of Menjangan which was where diving first really started in Bali back in about 1978 under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy.
There are several dive sites around the island and I have yet to dive all of them, but have documented my experience so far on the Menjangan page.
The second main area is a kind of “must do” for underwater photographers & critter lovers – Gilimanuk Bay, or is is more commonly known Secret Bay…
Quite what is secret about Secret Bay is somewhat of a mystery in itself, but it is an interesting place and well worth a visit if you like to see or photograph some of the weird & wonderful creatures the sea has to offer.
But if blue water and beautiful coral reefs are your thing – don’t bother as you will be greatly disappointed.
The third area is the reefs at Pemuteran, which I have never personally dived, but understand were badly damaged by unusually warm, El Nino produced, sea temperatures back in 1998 and which have still to fully recover.
I hope to dive this area before the end of 2012 and if so will update this information.
Diving Indonesia: Bali - The North Coast
Lovina is a pleasant town and I usually stay there when diving in the area, but have never actually dived the Lovina Reef, mainly because I have never had enough spare time to check it out.
What I have heard is that while it’s OK, it’s mainly a spot for new open water divers – which probably tells you all you need to know about it…
That said, I will check it out one of these days and update these pages.
Puri Jati on the other hand is somewhere I have spent a lot of time diving and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Diving Indonesia: Bali – The Northeast Coast
If there is one location that defines diving in Bali it is the small town of Tulamben and it’s main attraction of the Liberty shipwreck that attracts divers from all over the world!.
There is no doubt that the wreck is a great site, but there are several other sites in the general area that can keep even the most discerning diver busy for days, such as the Drop-Off at the southern end of Tulamben Bay and the sites around the headland from there.
I spent six days in Tulamben in January 2012 diving the Liberty Wreck up to 5 times a day to really get to know it and its pulse. It was a great experience which I documented in the Insider’s Guide to the Liberty Wreck – check it out…
Diving Indonesia: Bali - The East Coast
The East Coast of Bali offers some tremendous, but often quite challenging diving…
The reason that the diving is so good, but why great care is required, are one and the same thing – the Indonesian Throughflow.
In terms of the science of hydrology, the Lombok Straits are where “the rubber meets the road” and it is there that you will potentially face some of the strongest currents you are likely to experience anywhere.
But currents are the life-force of the sea & bring with them the things as divers we want to see and I highly recommend the area, but make sure you use a good operator who has experienced guides, as they really are the key to safe diving on the East Coast of Bali.
Next Page: Bali and the Indonesian Throughflow
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