Bali is world-famous for its postcard-worthy beaches and natural landscapes but under the water is just as stunning as above. From Sanur to Amed, we are rounding up the best places for snorkeling in Bali:
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Padang Bai is a small port town on the east coast of Bali. Most people pass through on their way to the Gili Islands or hop on a dive boat, but it is also a great snorkeling spot for families. There are 3 beaches in Padang Bai; the main beach along the main road, Blue Lagoon a short walk to the east and Bias Tugel about 1km to the west. The main beach is lined with boats and also faces the port, so it’s not the ideal for snorkeling, but the other 2 have soft, white sand and clear waters. The Blue Lagoon particularly boasts of a fantastic coral reef that sits on top of a sandy floor so people can check out the reef in all its glory even on shallow waters. You might see emperor angel fish, lead scorpion fish, stargazers, reef sharks and plenty more. For the more adventurous divers, there is a sunken wreck to explore a few kilometers from the shallow waters. Currents can be very strong and the Blue Lagoon is not accessible at high tide, so ask local about the weather conditions before you go.
Photo Credit: www.menxpat.com
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the south-east coast of Bali accessible by slow or fast boat from Sanur or Benoa. The waters around the island are crystal clear making easy to spot the reef sharks, triggerfish, parrotfish, ocean sunfish, barracudas, and other amazing marine life. On the eastern part of the island is a giant reef to explore too! The best snorkeling spots on the island are Mangrove Point and Mushroom Bay. We highly recommend getting a snorkeling guide for both places though, as the currents can be very strong. You can also take a short boat ride from Lembongan to Nusa Penida where there is a chance to spot manta rays at Manta Point. Crystal Bay is also a great snorkeling option.
Photo credit: Hai Tide Beach Resort
Tulamben is an unassuming coastal village with a secret hidden within its waters. Hailed as one of the best snorkel spots in the world, Tulamben literally translates to “many stones” perfectly describing the black volcanic rocks and cobbles that cover the coastline along the shore formed when Mt. Agung erupted in 1963. There is also a sunken 140-meter long wreck just 25 meters from the shore. The wreck, United States Army Transport Liberty, was torpedoed in 1942 and is now home to over 300 species of marine animals! For those who plan to snorkel here, keep an eye out for scorpion fish, ocean sunfish known as Mola Mola, ghostpipe fish, boxer crabs, black-tip reef sharks, and even the possibility of a hammerhead sharks and whale sharks!
Photo credit: Bali Dream Divers
Nusa Menjangan is an uninhabited island that’s a part of the West Bali National Park. According to the famous marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, it is possible that this place houses more coral species than the entire Caribbean. To preserve the safety of its marine life, only a certain number of divers are allowed out to dive each day.
Photo credit: Xplorea
Because the waters are calm, Menjangan is perfect for those who are snorkeling for the first time. Nusa Menjangan is home to rare sea turtles, bump head parrotfish, Napoleon fish, black tip reef sharks, barracudas, and several massive sea creatures! Be warned that boats from the mainland to Menjangan Island can be very expensive. With a limit to the amount of people they can take per day and the number of permits allowed, boat operators have to make it worth their while so charge high prices. Booking a package that includes permits, diving or snorkeling and even accommodation could save you a lot of money.
Located in the east of Bali, what most people call Amed is actually a long coastal strip that runs from the village of Culik through seven other villages: Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas. The sand in the Amed area is mostly black as because it’s so close to Mt. Agung, but you might find some patches of whiter sand as well. Amed is quite remote and most people go there to dive and snorkel so there are no crowds on the beaches. Read more about Snorkeling in Amed with Kids
Photo credit: Back in Bali
Amed has a number of beautiful bays to snorkel in and also the wreck of a Japanese ship to enjoy. The hard corals in this area were destroyed during the 1997 El Nino season and parts of the complex reefs are just recovering, but there is plenty of soft coral still to be seen. We recommend snorkeling early in the morning because the wind can get stronger as the day goes on, making the water extra rough. Visibility is also better during the early hours of the morning. Wake with the fishermen in the morning and watch the boats come in and unload their catches to make the most of the day.
Sanur is a coastal area on the south-east side of the capital city of Denpasar. Sanur is easily accessible and is also one of the departure points for day trips and snorkeling tours to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan islands. The area is very relaxed, much less hectic than Kuta and Seminyak and has a number of hotels and resorts including the Bali Hyatt and Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali. Sanur’s water is clear, warm and rich in colorful marine life like an endemic species of glittering neon damsels, clown trigger fish and puffer fish. This is a great place for kids to play and swim as the reef blocks big waves and keeps it relatively shallow.
Photo Credit: pulaubalitours.com
Candidasa rests on the edge of a freshwater lagoon and keeps the water nice and mild and teeming with marine life. There is very little beach, but some hotels have imported sand to make it more attractive to guests. Candidasa attracts an older more laid back crowd and plenty of divers, so hotels and villas are mostly a little more old style, but there are some recent builds and renovations if you are looking for something a bit more modern.
Photo credit: Project Bali
Gili Tepekong is one of three uninhabited islands off the coast of Candidasa. It is blessed with hard and soft corals and plenty of larger marine creatures like tuna, jacks, sharks and sunfish! It takes around 30 minutes to reach Gili Tepekong by traditional boat and the currents can be very strong. This isn’t site recommended for smaller children or those who aren’t strong swimmers.
Photo credit: OK Divers
Napoleon Reef is a football-sized coral reef spot about 2 kilometres off the small village of Pemuteran. Featuring shallow and deep waters, Napoleon Reef features three underwater peninsulas that go all the way into the deeper waters. This reef is teeming with ocean life and serves as a breeding ground for many fish, crustacean and large cuttlefish species. Invertebrates also thrive in the area so keep your eyes peeled! Napoleon Reef is rich in hard and soft corals too. You’ll get breathtaking views of the giant table corals, gorgonian fans, giant barrel and other sponges! Just like other snorkel sites in Bali, Napoleon reef sustained massive coral bleaching during the 1997 El Nino, but is making an impressive comeback.
Photo credit: Asia Web Direct
Bali’s closest neighbor to the east is the island of Lombok. Comprised of many inlets, most of which are completely devoid of people, Lombok offers offers plenty of opportunity to check out the thriving corals and hundreds of fish species below. In many areas the water is crystal clear, so it’s perfect for observing marine life. The Gili Islands off the north coast of Lombok’s mainland are also incredibly popular with families. Getting to Lombok from Bali is easy by fast boat, ferry or airplane.
Photo credit: Guide Lombok
Photo credit: Bali Tourism Board
There is no shortage of amazing places to snorkel in the waters around Bali and the experience of seeing ocean life up close is an unforgettable one for adults and children alike.
Be sure to read our safety tips for Snorkeling with Kids and have an amazing time!