Thanks to a slew of Instagrammable spots (Pura Lempuyang Temple, for starters), eastern Bali has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. However, this region has managed to keep some lesser-known secrets beneath the waves. From thriving coral reefs to volcanic seamounts, caves and wrecks, eastern Bali boasts an incredibly diverse diving repertoire that caters to every level of diver. While Tulamben's world-famous USAT Liberty shipwreck might rival its topside counterparts in terms of popularity, eastern Bali offers myriad captivating sites with a fraction of the fin fall. Whether you're a macro enthusiast or want to tick off the big fish (think: Mola Mola and manta rays), read on to discover the best diving in eastern Bali.
Nestled in the northeastern corner of Bali lies Tulamben, a small fishing village that has gained global recognition for one legendary underwater attraction: the USAT Liberty shipwreck. Stretching 120 metres in length, this coral-encrusted wreck has earned its reputation as one of the world's premier wreck dive sites. Accessible directly from the shoreline, its resting place spans depths of five to 28 metres, catering to divers of all skill levels. Adjacent to the shipwreck, Coral Garden is a great site for macro photography, while nearby Drop-Off is characterized by a steep wall regularly patrolled by reef sharks and turtles. Another Original Diving favourite, Bat Cave, features an underwater cave harbouring different types of shrimp, lionfish and the occasional turtle.
Amed, located an hour's drive south of Tulamben, is a shore diver's (and snorkeller's) dream. A few fin kicks from the black sandy shores of Amed beach lies a healthy coral system replete with colourful reef fish, rays, turtles and even the occasional black tip reef shark.
While Amed offers an abundance of outstanding dive sites, the standout is unquestionably the Wall, an essential destination for macro enthusiasts. Here, divers can spot pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, octopuses and cuttlefish along the 50-metre coral-encrusted wall. Seraya Secrets is another popular haunt for macro critters, with plenty of ghost pipefish, mimic octopuses and various types of shrimp.
When diving in eastern Bali, Candidasa is often overlooked in favour of its more famous counterparts (we're looking at you Tulamben). But this inconspicuous seaside village, with its white sandy beaches, has some incredible dive sites that cater to both beginner and advanced divers. Close to shore, Candidasa Reef and Bias Tugel are great sites for spotting macro critters among colourful corals. The Jetty also provides a glimpse into Candidasa's bustling nightlife, by which we mean lobsters, crabs and octopuses - just don't forget your torch. Top tip: at the end of the dive, turn off your light and shake your arms to stir bioluminescence in the water - it's intergalactic.
Candidasa is also the launch point to some of the best diving in the region, scattered around three nearby islands: Mimpang, Tepekong and Biaha.
Gili Mimpang, also known as Bat Island, is characterized by a cluster of submerged volcanic formations covered in hard and soft corals. The site includes underwater pinnacles, walls, slopes and canyons that harbour a wide range of marine species; from all the usual reef fish - angelfish, butterflyfish, damselfish and colourful anthias - to larger pelagic species such as blacktip and whitetip reef sharks. The currents here can be strong, making this site best suited for advanced divers.
Another volcanic site, Tepekong is best known for its dramatic underwater landscapes, strong nutrient-rich currents and an A-star repertoire of marine species. Explore the site's steep walls and drop-offs while keeping an eye out for eagle rays, barracudas, reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead.
Advanced divers looking to test their skills while diving in eastern Bali won't be disappointed with Biaha. Thanks to strong currents and sometimes rough conditions, Biaha is considered one of the more challenging sites in the region. However, divers who venture beneath the waves can circumnavigate a submerged pinnacle in the deep blue alongside barracudas, reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead.
While technically not in East Bali but part of the neighbouring Nusa Islands, Nusa Penida is renowned for year-round encounters with all the big name pelagics (think: manta rays, eagle rays, turtles and reef sharks) in crystal-clear water. Two of the most iconic dives, Manta Point and Crystal Bay, can be ticked off in a two-tank dive. As the name suggests, Manta Point is a hotspot for manta rays while Crystal Bay is the place to go to for seasonal sightings of Mola Mola (July to October) alongside reef sharks. Another stand-out dive, Blue Corner, features a dramatic underwater ridge and strong nutrient-rich currents, attracting huge schools of fish which in turn brings in sharks and other predatory pelagics.