Bali has long been known as an Island with rich culture and tradition, stunning landscapes and beautiful, friendly people. It has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination and now truly offers something for everyone. The busy main tourist areas provide the opportunity to "shop till you drop" and a huge range of bars, clubs and restaurants that cater for all tastes and budgets. However, these hubs of activity are easily left behind to discover the more serene face of Bali that appears little changed over hundreds of years.
Until recent years, Balis underwater treasures were a well kept secret, however this is changing rapidly. Long renowned by marine biologists and international underwater photographers, Balis magnificent diving is now recognised by discerning divers as one of the "must dive" locations of the world. In recent years, the infrastructure to provide access to some of Balis great dive sites has been put in place. Several first class dive operators provide excellent service and meet all international safety requirements; so divers can be assured of a wonderful diving experience. It is well worth contacting several operators and doing a little homework to ensure that the company you choose meets your expectations.
So, why is Bali an unmissable dive destination? Again the answer lies in the variety of its attractions. Many dive locations in the North of the Island offer sheltered diving in gentle conditions; in many cases easily accessed from the shore. In other locations the strong currents provide exhilarating and challenging opportunities for drift diving. The strong upwellings from the exceptionally deep channels around Bali provide a rich feeding ground for the marine life, which is abundant, and ranges from spectacularly beautiful and rare macro species through to the huge mola mola or oceanic sunfish.
Bali is in fact one of only two locations in the world where sunfish can be predicted to appear at certain times of the year. Seeing these giants of the ocean hanging in the current, being cleaned by shoals of Moorish Idol, is indeed a memorable sight. Very little is known about these creatures. The mola mola visiting Bali have been included in ongoing research to try to establish more information about these gentle giants. The sunfish are most frequently sighted around Nusa Lembongan, Cenningan and Penida, but can also be spotted on other dive sites around Bali.
The strong currents also provide an ideal environment for sharks, which are often sighted (and particularly so) on Balis East Coast. A variety of rays can also be seen including the largest of the rays, the manta. Nusa Penida is particularly popular with divers who wish to see the manta rays, as there is a resident group there.
Many interesting and unusual species make Bali their home. Cuttlefish and octopus can be observed at the divers leisure in some of the shallow and sheltered sights on the North East Coast. Crocodile fish, leaf scorpion fish and a fantastic array of nudibranchs abound. Stately Napoleon wrasse and groups of bumphead parrotfish are highlights, as are mantis shrimp, blue ribbon eels, pygmy seahorses and ghost pipefish.
The list of reasons to dive Bali goes on and on. The fact that it possesses one of the worlds most accessible shipwrecks - the SS Liberty is just one more. This large war victim is just metres from the shore. The ship was torpedoed in 1942 and after it was rescued it was beached. The unfortunate ship remained on a stretch of Balis beautiful coast until Gnung Agung, Balis biggest volcano, erupted in 1963. The Liberty crashed beneath the sea during the eruption and now sits on a black sand shelf that slopes from about 6m-30m. The wreck is vast, perhaps 120m long and lies parallel to the beach. It has become one of Indonesias most beautiful artificial reefs.
So whatever aspects of diving appeal to you, you are sure to find them in Bali!
This article is courtesy of Linda Langoulant from Bali Diving.