Everyone who loves diving would normally have Bali as their annual destination. This also includes domestic divers from all around Indonesia as well as foreign divers visiting Indonesia. I began my diving adventure in late 2012 and started to dive Bali annually. As we all know, Bali is located in the eastern part Indonesia, which offers most divers couldn't resist, its waters are located within the coral triangle of the world and thus its ocean life is rich.
On the other hand, Bali has been developed in decades as a tourist destination. Almost everything a tourist need is available in Bali, hence, making it an easy destination with easy access to each of the dive sites around Bali. In this article, I am going to elaborate a bit of an all round view of Bali, and how to make your stay during your dive trip in Bali convenient. This is all based on my personal experience, as Bali has many kinds of offering these days, experience may vary.
Getting to Bali
Getting to Bali is super easy these days, you have lots of direct flights to Bali from Jakarta, Singapore, Australia, and other countries. There also other flights from and to Bali which connect other cities which are famous for scuba diving in Indonesia. In short, it is a gate to other cities in east Indonesia.
However the next question is now, which flight is most convenient for scuba divers with all of their gears and cameras? Being a tourist destination, there are cheap flights available to Bali. I mean it. The cheapest you can imagine. However, this might not be convenient for divers carrying gears and sophisticated cameras. Having at least 20-30 kgs of dive gear plus camera equipments will cost you a lot on overweight charges if you are flying with budget airlines. So, be sure to pick a flight (though might be a little expensive) that caters this matter. In fact, most of the budget airlines will charge you almost the same price with the other airlines during peak season in Bali. Being a native, I usually fly with Garuda Indonesia since they allow you 20 kg + 23 kg extra if you are carrying sport equipments (this means including scuba diving gear). So, there will be no more charges to pay when checking in your huge dive bags and the pelican case containing your camera gear.
In this part, I can't say a lot since I am a native, I don't have any experience with visa entry, etc. However, I am going to talk about things you can do when you are out of the baggage collection.
When you are getting out of the arrival terminal, there will be a lot of people coming to you and offer you taxi services. Some of it may not be official. If you have planned your dive trip for which airport pick-up and transfer is included, then you are all sorted out. The staff of the dive resort which you are staying will be waiting for you right in front of the door holding a sign board or paper with your name on it. Catch up with them and you are off to your dive resort.
This is what I usually do, I arrived at the airport. Call or look for the staff who is picking us up. Walk down the parking lot and head directly to the dive resort. Along the way, you can ask the staff if you wanted to get some food or anything that you need on your way to the dive resort. If you are heading to Padang Bai or Tulamben, you will pass a few dive shops on the road. Make sure to check whether you need anything to buy before getting to the dive resort.
Dive Sites, Diving and Dive Resorts
A single article will not fit a discussion of dive sites in Bali. the island itself is surrounded by known dive sites. In general, when people are talking about diving in Bali, it would normally pointing to Tulamben, Padang Bai, Candidasa, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Amed, Menjangan Island, Kubu, Seraya, etc. All can be reach easily with Menjangan being the farthest distance of all.
So far, I have visited Tulamben, Kubu, Amed, and Padang Bai. On which I may say, I will definitely visit them all over again. Most areas will offer you with both wide angle and macro sites. So be sure to bring the right camera equipment so you won't missed the moment underwater.
Being established as a dive destination, there are lots of dive resorts and operators in Bali, ranging from budget friendly to five star rates with five star services. As example, there are variety of dive resorts residing in Tulamben, having placed their resorts only in walking distance to the famous U.S.S Liberty Shipwreck shore dive. This is also the case if you are going to dive in Padang Bai or Amed. Diving is as easy as flipping your hands.
However, it is also possible to have a day trip to some other places. You can stay in Tulamben and make a day trip to Padang Bai or Amed. The dive resorts usually cater this service. They will prepare a car to take you to the area and spent a day diving in such area. You can do this by request upon planning your trip or you can just simply ask them during your stay.
If you are already familiar with Bali, or that you have a regular dive guide or so, some people with a lot of time also like to do what they call a Bali Safari dive trip. This means that you will be driving around and diving in Bali top dive sites.
For those who are interested in looking for critters, there has been this trend in Bali that most of the dive guides have been constantly promoting each of their dive sites by spotting and photographing critters. If you are one of those who wants to find critters, Bali does have that kind of service available. You may look for reference in the Underwater Macro Photographer group page in Facebook.
This is what I can come up with so far. I will let update more information if I have more ideas. I have also attached some of my videos as reference.
Cheers and dive safe,