Renowned for its beautiful beaches, lovely tropical scenery and exotic culture, Bali is also a top international diving destination. Scuba Diving magazine once described it as “the storied, idyllic gateway to an undersea Eden.” Well-connected to the rest of the world through Denpasar’s international airport, Bali is relatively easy to get to, but scuba diving there still requires some sound planning and forethought.
Pick what you want to see the most while diving in Bali, and go to the location or dive format that best suits it. For example, if you want to see mola mola, dive off the southeast coast around Nusa Penida. If you want to shore dive a shipwreck, try the USS Liberty in Tulamben Bay. To avoid crowds, go to Bali’s northwestern corner and dive from there. To see Bali’s famed schools of hammerheads, however, you will probably need to book passage on a liveaboard dive boat.
Take a refresher course if you are not a seasoned diver (100 or more dives) and have not dived in the previous year before you go on a regular dive trip. Also, add a scuba diving course to your agenda if many of the dives available seem to be above your skill level. The scuba diving industry in Bali offers low prices and high standards, as well as world-renowned dive sites to serve as the setting for your further skill development.
Visit your prospective dive trip operator or liveaboard operator before departure to choose, inspect and try on rental scuba gear. If you typically dive in North Carolina, even if you brought all your own gear to Bali, you still need to rent a shorty wetsuit, as your 5mm full-body suit is too thick and hot for Bali’s tropical waters. If cave diving is not normally part of your repertoire, several of Bali’s dive sites have small, spacious caves that require no special training to penetrate, but you will need to bring an underwater flashlight. If you are not on a liveaboard trip, ask if you can keep the same set of scuba gear set aside for repeat dive trips with the same operator.
Add weights to your belt for your first dive if you have not dived in tropical waters in the last few months. Changes as small as a little weight gain or an unfamiliar wetsuit may alter your buoyancy characteristics, and it is easier to compensate for greater weight than for too little. Adjust your weights after you get a feel for your new buoyancy characteristics.
Study the site map and dive plan for each dive, and imagine the progress of the dive so you can solve your own problems. For example, Nusa Penida’s Manta Point is usually placid, but sometimes experiences strong surges of ocean current. If a sudden surge sweeps you off the site, a self-help attitude is critical to getting back to the dive boat.