Scuba diving in Indonesia is a must for every serious diver. Often cited as the epicenter of the world where biodiversity is concerned, whether you’re into liveaboards, luxury resorts, thrilling drift dives, wreck diving, beautiful corals, or beautiful creatures, you’ll be spoiled for choice at the dive sites around the country.
However, with so many great options available, choosing where to dive can be tricky. To help narrow down your options, we’ve listed some of the best dive sites in three of the country’s most popular areas: Bali, Komodo and Wakatobi.
Bali – Ideal for Beginners, and Popular with Tourists
Most westerners who visit Indonesia opt to visit Bali. There’s plenty of good reasons for this. It’s the most accessible destination for most, and there are tons of tourist activities on offer. From the white sand beaches with world class surf spots, to the unique Hindu temples and shopping areas, to the variety of bars and restaurants – Bali has it all.
In regards to scuba diving, you’ll find plenty of dive shops dotted all over the island with the best sites being located along the northern and eastern coastlines. Free diving and technical diving are also available through some specialist operators. Bali is known for its huge shoals of fish, fantastic muck dives, colorful corals, intriguing wrecks and its unique critters. The dive sites are well suited to beginners due to the amount of dive schools on the island.
If we had to name one place to head to in Bali, it would have to be Nusa Penida. Here you can dive with the strange looking Mola Mola fish, and are also likely to see manta rays up close. July to October are the best months to dive, but diving is good almost all year round save for January and February when rainy weather can lead to poor visibility.
Komodo – Home to Amazing Drift Dives
Located an hour away by plane, Komodo National Park was named after the 5000+ Komodo dragons that live there. However, this UNESCO World Heritage site is also a fantastic place to scuba dive. Eagle and manta rays are common, but divers will be able to see large shoals of fish all year round.
If you want to drift dive, head to North Komodo. However, be aware that the sites in North Komodo are not suitable for beginners due to the strong currents. Those with experience will be amazed by the variety of sea life on offer. March through October is the best time to dive.
Central Komodo is the place to go if you’re interested in micro critters, but it’s also a hot spot for eagle and manta rays. In fact, if you visit during the right season, you may see groups of up to 50 of them mating. Now that’s not something you see every day. Likewise, March through October are the best months for scuba diving in Komodo.
South Komodo differs to the above two as it has a different climate and is cooler. Because of this, you’ll likely need a warmer wetsuit for diving here. South Komodo is best known for its stunning topography, dramatic swim throughs and epic walls. For the best conditions, visit between November and February.
Similar to Bali, there’s a very strong dive culture in Komodo and you’ll find plenty of reputable dive companies. In addition to day dives, you’ll also find luxury yachts, liveaboards, five star dive resorts and more. Because it’s not the most beginner friendly, it’s advisable to choose a reputable firm to dive with.
Wakatobi – Home to Some of the World’s Most Pristine Reefs
Wakatobi National Park is off the beaten track, and it doesn’t have many on-land activities for divers, however we still highly recommend it. Home to some of the world’s most biodiverse marine life, this protected area comprises four islands: Binongko, Tomia, Kaledupa and Wangi-Wangi.
The reefs in Wakatobi are very healthy and you’ll find masses of sponges, sea fans and corals that are home to more creatures than you can imagine. In addition to the marine creatures you would expect to see, Wakatobi is also the place to visit to see frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, cuttlefish, seahorses, and rare invertebrates.
There are resorts on the islands, but many divers prefer to take a liveaboard excursion so that they can experience numerous sites without having to head back to shore at the end of each day. The Pelagian liveaboard is available all year around, while other companies head to Wakatobi during monsoon season.
To reach Wakatobi, you’ll want to fly in to Bali and then take a chartered flight to Wakatobi. The sites are suitable for all levels with some manta ray snorkel tour sites also available. Whether you choose to stay on a liveaboard or at a resort, one thing is for sure: scuba diving in Indonesia doesn’t get much better than this!
Have you gone scuba diving in Indonesia? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Please do contact us if you’d like to share them!