After being isolated indoors for many months, there’s no doubt that many people are itching to go somewhere open and close to nature. What screams freedom more than the open ocean, where you can dip your toes in the sand, breathe in the fresh, salty sea breeze, bathe under the sun and soak in some much-needed Vitamin D, and swim freely on the vast waters.
So, we at NOW! Bali suggest heading to the seaside once quarantine is over. Bali’s seascape knows no limits and being home to some of the world’s best diving sites, historical sea temples, world-famous surf turfs and pristine beaches, there’s no shortage of oceanic destinations for you to enjoy. And, while it’s still uncertain when we’ll be able to see the great outdoors again, it’s never too early to start planning your tropical escape.
One of the reasons to visit Bali lies under the very waters that surround the island. Yes, a whole world of colour, life and beauty exists under the sea, luring in diver’s around the world looking to discover the riches of the Bali sea.
If you’re a diver on the hunt for a diving hotspot swarmed with enchanting marine life and crystal-clear waters, then Menjangan Island is just the place for you. Located 5 miles offshore of northwest Bali, this tiny island is home to Menjangan National Marine Reserve, Bali’s most protected marine life reserve.
Expect to encounter an abundance of beautiful marine life during your dive at the island’s seven dive sites, from the colourful soft corals, sea fans and sponges, to the faunas including barracudas, reef sharks, turtles, and many more species. There are also several caves that you can reach from the coral-lined walls, as well as the site of a World War II remnant, the Anchor Wreck, a sunken wooden vessel. The best time to dive at Menjangan Island is between February and April.
Nestled on the northeast coast of Bali, Tulamben is a small fishing village that is among Bali’s most popular dive hotspots, attracting up to 100 divers per day during high-season. The dive site is famously known for the wreckage of the USAT Liberty, a World War II US Army Transport ship from 1942 that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
The ship was beached for over 30 years, rusting, until the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 drove the ship into the water, where it finally submerged just offshore, and became covered with coral and other fascinating sea life inhabitants, including Molamola, whale sharks and Black-tip reef sharks. The best conditions to dive in Tulamben is between October and November.
If you’re a beginner diver, the Blue Lagoon is the best location for dive training. Located in East Bali, Blue Lagoon is the most popular dive spot in Padang Bai. It features a sandy bottom with a seabed of soft corals and scattered hard corals near the shore. Blue Lagoon essentially has no current and has excellent visibility, which is recommended for new divers looking to get a few dives in before taking on harder dives.
Blue Lagoon is also one of the best spots for night dives in Bali, where lucky divers may encounter the stunning Spanish Dancer Nudibranch, frogfish, sea horse, turtles and more. The suggested time to dive at Blue Lagoon is between June to December.
In South Bali, across the Badung Strait, Nusa Penida has the area’s best location for open ocean experiences. Hop on a 45-minute boat ride from Nusa Penida to reach the protected cliff of Manta Point, home to the Giant Manta Rays. The dive site at Manta Point rests 15 metres below the surface, a rocky wall with sporadic boulders, though most divers only descend 4-6 metres below the surface to witness the elegant Manta Rays gliding through the water. Manta Point is great for diving all year round.
The sea also has a special place in Balinese culture; all around the island you’ll find sites dedicated to the ocean!
Located to the south of Negara, Pura GedePerancak is a prominent Hindu sea temple that honours the site of 16th-century religious figure Dang Hyang Nirartha’s arrival in Bali back in 1546. The temple enjoys a scenic view overlooking the Perancak river, near a village of the same name, which was once an abandoned ruin that has since been restored to its former glory. There is no temple fee for praying, however, you are required to wear a sarong or you can rent one for IDR 20,000.
Located west of Singaraja, Pura Pulaki is a sea temple that rests on flat land with rocky outcrops as the backdrop. The temple is believed to have been built in 1489 by Dang Hyang Nirartha. Legend has it that when Nirartha first arrived, he was escorted by macaques from the forest to the temple’s eventual location. Sarong and sash rentals are available, with a small entrance fee of whatever amount for donation.
To the east of Negara, some 87km from Denpasar lies one of the largest Hindu temples in Bali – Pura RambutSiwi. The name translates to ‘worship of the hair’, where it was said that Dang Hyang Nirartha gifted a lock of his hair to the villagers, whom then built the temple around it. The temple rests on top of a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, with an entrance fee of IDR 20,000.
Of course, one of the first pulls of the island of the Gods was its stunning coastlines. Though the main stretches remain popular, why not go out of your way and enjoy the sand found further afield!
Experience a private oasis at Virgin Beach, a tranquil and untouched beach in the Karangasem Regency. Despite being located in East Bali, an area known to have black sand beaches, Virgin Beach enjoys a soft white sandy beach and crystal-clear waters. This beach is peaceful and the waves are relatively small, the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a day under the sun. You can even rent snorkelling equipment to explore the waters.
A hidden gem in Padangbai Village, Bias Tugel Beach is a relatively unknown destination that takes extra effort to reach, but trust us when we say the reward is worth it! Virgin Beach is a magical little paradise with white sand beach and clear azure waters, confined between two large rock formations. Several surprises await you at this beach: you’ll find a small lagoon to dip in with a short walk to the left of the beach, as well as a water blow phenomenon if you walk 50 metres to the right.
Found on the Badung Regency, Gunung Payung Beach is another hidden paradise that you must visit. This particular location is famous for the extreme sport of paragliding, and while the path taking you to the white sandy beach might be a little rough, the scenic surroundings will keep you preoccupied. Once you arrive at the expansive beach, you’ll be spoiled by the serene atmosphere, cool sea breeze and calming sound of the waves of Gunung Payung Beach.