Manta Point and Blue Lagoon
The healthy coral reefs and many fish around the islets of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, southeast of Bali, mean they are popular destinations for diving and snorkelling. From July to November you have a chance to spot the rare John Dory fish here. A bit further south, and more difficult to reach due to the waves, is Manta Point, where spectacular giant manta rays can be admired. These ‘devil rays’ have a fin span of up to 7 metres with fins so powerful that they can jump out of the water. The word ‘wings’ suddenly seems oddly appropriate.
A little way north is the Blue Lagoon, just outside the port of Padang Bai, from where ferries depart to Lombok. This is a perfect dive site for beginners who are not afraid to come across a turtle, batfish, thorntail stingray or shark. An exceptional experience is the nocturnal excursion during which you can observe the Spanish Dancer, a strange bright red slug. A favourite spot for experienced divers is the more distant island of Gili Tepekong, with its sloping reefs and vertical walls.
Menjangan, a colourful aquarium
Menjangan Island is located a few kilometres off the northwest tip of Bali. As getting there involves driving out of Denpasar for a few hours and taking a 30-minute boat ride, it is less crowded than the other dive spots. The reefs and cliff walls around this island are spectacular and you can also look for the wooden shipwreck. This spot is also ideal for snorkelling – there’s enough parrotfish, sea cucumbers, blowfish and barracudas to keep your head underwater all day. A true paradise.
The Liberty wreck is covered with coral
Diving for treasure at Tulamben
What could be more exciting than diving for a real shipwreck? The seabed near the village of Tulamben is home to the famous wreck Liberty, a US Navy transport ship which was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. The vessel, which is almost 120 metres long, was initially beached on the east coast of Bali until a tidal wave, caused by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963, dragged her into deep water and broke her back. Today the wreck is completely covered with anemones and coral – a veritable treasure trove for divers. It also abounds with marine animals, such as the horse-eye jack, barracuda, emperor angelfish, humphead wrasse and blacktip reef shark. Talumben is located on Bali's east coast.