Snorkeling in Bali – Complete Bali snorkel guide 2020

Bali, the Island of Gods attracts thousands of visitors year after year thanks to its rich culture, historical attractions, and diverse landscape. Moreover, it is a heaven for sea lovers too! Vibrant coral reefs, rich marine life await snorkelers and divers that want to explore Bali underwater side. When is the best time to visit Bali? Where can you see turtles or do shipwreck snorkeling? We put everything in this article that you need to know about snorkeling in Bali!

Bali beaches – Where to go snorkeling

Are you looking for dramatic rocky shores or volcanic black sandy beaches? Do you want surfing not just snorkeling in Bali? Or prefer just lying in the white sand snipping your cocktail? You will get all these here!

This magical island has a varied landscape, fantastic flora and fauna, it is truly a paradise above and under the water too. But you need to know a little bit about the island’s characteristics to decide what Bali beaches are the best for snorkeling.

Melasti Beach Bali
Melasti Beach South Bali – excellent for sunbathing and swimming, but not for snorkeling

The most popular tourist areas like Kuta, Jimbaran, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua offer wide sand coasts for visitors. These South Bali beaches are good for sun seekers becacause there is no coral (or the reef is too far from the shore). Southwest Bali beaches such as Padang Padang, Dreamland or Uluwatu coast are surfer’s paradise with big waves and often strong current.

Uluwatu beach
Beach in Uluwatu – great for surfers, not for snorkelers

The best Bali snorkeling beaches are on the East, Northeast and West side of the island. In these areas, the sea is calm and there are vibrant coral reefs close to the shore in shallow water offering perfect conditions to explore the underwater world!

Best time for snorkeling in Bali

The island has a tropical climate which means hot and humid weather all year round. There are two seasons in Bali: a long dry season from April to September, and a rainy one from October to March.

To cut it short, don’t come in the rainy season if snorkeling in Bali is your priority. The sea can be very rough, wind is strong resulting unpleasant and unsafe conditions. Due to rain, wind, and currents, the water is often murky with very limited visibility. Often charter boat trips get canceled which makes difficult planning your holiday. Of course, it is not raining 24/7 and you might be lucky to enjoy some completely dry days but to be on the safe side plan we recommend to schedule your Bali snorkel trip for the dry season.

Storm coming on Bali
Stormy day in Bali- don’t go snorkeling if the sky is not clear

The weather is pleasant with less rain from April till September. July and August are the driest months but keep in mind that this is high season in Bali! Bali snorkeling is good in these months, but expect more tourists, crowded beaches not to mention higher hotel rates and excursion prices. Best time to visit Bali: May, June, and September when pleasant weather coupled with low prices!

Beach in Bali with mountains in the background
Sunshine and calm water – perfect weather for beach activities!

Travel tip: even if you come in dry season, prepare warmer sweater, trousers, raincoat and waterproof shoes if you’re planning to go to mountains or hike the volcano! Bali weather changes quickly and it can easily happen that there is bright sunshine at the beach but you find fog and rain just a few kilometers away while driving up to the mountains to visit a temple. Don’t forget to bring your sarong too!

Related: The nearby Lombok has also superb coral reefs and it is a bit more quiet than Bali? Read our Lombok snorkeling guide to learn what areas we recommend to visit!

Nusa Dua snorkeling – South Bali

Snorkeling in Bali is very limited in the South area due to currents and coast’s characteristic. The only place you might consider visiting if staying in the South is the Nusa Dua snorkel point. The place is called Tanjung Benoa reef.

Recommended only for first time snorkelers or kids as introduction since the corals and marine life are not so lively. Better option is to sign up for a Nusa Penida Manta snorkeling trip! It is costly and takes almost the whole day but a lifetime experience!

Snorkeling Padangbai and Virgin Beach – East Bali

On the East coast, you find 2 beaches, Padangbai Blue Lagoon and White Sand Beach (Virgin Beach) that can be considered to try snorkeling in Bali.

Blue Lagoon Padangbai

Padang Bai is a popular transit area for a few days before or after visiting Lombok or the Gili Islands. Speedboats and ferries depart and arrive from and to Padang Bai’s harbor. At the same time, the area is known about Blue Lagoon. It is a favorite spot for families and new snorkelers that wish to do easy snorkeling in Bali.

Coral - Snorkeling Blue Lagoon Padangbai
Corals in Blue Lagoon Padangbai

Best to visit Padang Bai Blue Lagoon in the morning as usually, the sea gets rough in the afternoon resulting unsafe conditions. Plastic pollution is a big problem at Blue Lagoon too such as throughout Indonesia (and sadly worldwide). Visitors use to review the place as a “could be a nice spot if it would be cleaned more often” feedback. Due to direction of currents, plastic is often washed up on the shore.

Tip: read our how to reduce your plastic waste article to learn some easy tricks and become a responsible traveler!

Virgin Beach Karangasem

Often mentioned as White Sand Beach (Pantai Pasir Putih or Bias Putih). This small sandy stretch gained popularity in the past few years because of the whitish sand that is not so common on Bali’s East and North coast. Despite the increased number of visitors, it is still considered as hidden beach. It is just 20 km far from Padangbai, 10 km from Candi Dasa.

White sandy beach aerial photo
Virgin Beach – such an idyllic spot to spend the day!

Virgin Beach is just a short drive from the famous Taman Ujung Water Palace which is a popular day-trip from Amed-Tulamben area. The reef (similar to Blue Lagon Padang Bai) starts around 5-10 meters from the shore where you can observe tropical fish, sometimes even turtles. Snorkel gear can be rented at warungs on the spot, but for practical and hygienic reasons, we always recommend to have own equipment at least mask and snorkel.

Tulamben and Amed snorkeling – North East Bali

Amed-Tulamben is celebrated among tourist that seek a relaxed holiday with stunning scenery rather than a resort experience in busy city areas. You will be amazed by the view of the majestic Agung Volcano as well as the unique black sandy beaches. In addition, Northeast Bali is best region for snorkeling in Bali!

Amed snorkeling beaches

Lipah black sandy beach - Bali
Most Amed beaches has black volcanic sand

If you start searching recommendation on best Bali snorkeling, most people will suggest going to Amed. Believe them! Amed is definitely the best region for snorkeling in Bali. You find here healthy reefs, shipwrecks and rich sea life including rays as well as turtles. Uniquely, the black sandy bottom gives a magical tone to the corals making colors more sharp and vibrant.

The best beaches for Amed snorkeling:

  • the reef at Amed Beach in front of Kembali Beach Bungalows (artificial reef, healthy corals, turtles)
  • Jemeluk Bay (coral reef on the right side, Submarine Post Office)
  • Lipah Beach (hard coral patches and vibrant soft corals)
  • Bunutan Reef (hard corals including huge table corals)
  • Japanese Shipwreck (small shipwreck and coral reef)

In our detailed “Where to snorkel in Amed” post we share more details on each location.

Sea turtle on the Amed coral reef
You can easily find turtles in Amed – this one we spotted at the reef near Kembali Bungalows!

Snorkel Around The World Tip: The reef in front of the Kembali Beach Bungalows was our best Bali snorkeling spot with healthy corals and many sea turtles around! If you are looking for a nice hotel to stay at, check out them!

Tulamben shipwreck snorkeling and Coral Garden

This tiny village, Tulamben just right next to Agung volcano is famous of the 125 m long USAT Liberty wreck. Mainly visited by divers although the wreck is totally visible for snorkelers as well since the top lies on 5 m deep only.

Try to go as early as possible because the sea is calmer in the morning. Expect to see vibrant corals and plenty of fish around! There is no buoy at Tulamben shipwreck, therefore, it is a bit tricky to find it. Follow the signs to Tulamben Wreck Divers Hotel and the road will take you to the beach.

Freediving - Tulamben USS Liberty
The Tulamben shipwreck

Once there, just look where the divers enter or ask people about directions. When snorkeling in Tulamben, don’t miss out visiting the Coral Garden which is just a few hundred meters from the shipwreck. The reef starts close to the shore. By calm water, this shallow coral garden is easy but beautiful snorkeling in Bali experience with many different fish species to see. The spot features an Underwater Temple too with undersea status.

Snorkel Around The World Tip: The Tulamben shipwreck is much bigger than Amed Japanese Shipwreck. The body itself is in better condition, therefore, it can offer a more dramatic experience than the Japanese shipwreck. If you have time, it is worth a trip to Tulamben!

Menjangan Island and Pemuteran Bay – North West Bali

The west side of Bali is quieter since it takes longer to get there. Expect less tourists, preserved nature, and more authentic local feeling. Menjangan National Park often mentioned as the Number 1 on the Snorkeling in Bali list!

Menjangan Island National Park

Small island located in Bali Barat National Park 8 km off the coast of Bali. Since it is a protected marine reserve, you find here preserved coral gardens and diverse ecosystem. Turtles spotted frequently here.

On the top of the beautiful underwater scenery, you can spot here different sea and shorebirds as well as a Barking Deer! It is definitely not an everyday experience to observe a deer having bath in the sea, isn’t it?

Pemuteran Biorock snorkeling

Small fishing village that is home to the largest artificial reef project in the world! Pemuteran Biorock is a complex conservation project started by local community in 2000. Now, the total length of the installations is more than 300 meters forming a trail in shallow water that snorkelers or divers can follow.

Pemuteran Bay is usually free of currents, therefore, a safe spot for beginner snorkelers too. Biorock Pemuteran locates right in front of Taman Sari Resort. A truly unique and interesting Bali snorkeling spot!

Nusa Islands – Mantarays and pristine reefs

The 3 Nusa Islands, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are just 20 km off the southeast coast of Bali. These 3 heavenly islands feature impressive beaches as well as excellent snorkeling for water lovers.

Although the most visited is Nusa Lembongan, we recommend staying in Nusa Penida if your priority is exploring the undersea world. Not only because you can do manta snorkeling but also there are vibrant coral reefs around the island.

Kelingking Beach
The famous Kelingking beach in Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida best snorkel places:

  • Crystal Bay
  • Gamat Bay
  • The Wall Point
  • Buddha Temple
  • Manta Bay

Check out our Nusa Penida Snorkel Guide for more info!

Boat snorkeling in Bali – tips and prices

However there are superb offshore snorkel spots in Bali, there are some places that are accessible only by boat (or it is more convenient to visit them in this way) so let us share our experience on the tour conditions and prices.

First of all, when in Indonesia, accept one thing: you, as a tourist, almost always pay more than locals. Sometimes even official price lists (boat tickets for example) have local and tourist sections. The only thing you can do: try haggling. Excursion, boat, snorkel trip prices are always changing, depending on the season, weather and on the mood of the seller.

Daily snorkeling boat Bali
Typical daily snorkel boat in Bali

If you want to know how much a good price for a trip is prior to your purchase, try to search on travel forums or Tripadvisor. If you don’t have time for this, try to haggle with your seller and accept the offer if you feel the price is reasonable. Don’t be shy to ask about prices at different places, don’t accept the first offer.

If it comes to Bali snorkeling trip prices, the range is wide. Public Bali snorkeling trips are available from 80-100.000 IDR per person. They are cheap, but as a downside, you need to share the boat with sometimes 30-40 people. For your comfort, we recommend choosing smaller boats (maximum 10 people) which is just a bit more expensive. Around 150-200.000 IDR per person is normal price for a 2-4 hours long snorkeling tour.

Snorkelers next to a boat
This is how a boat snorkel trip looks like

If you want specific places to visit, or just prefer being far from the crowd, spend a bit more and go for a private snorkel trip. The price really depends on your business skills, try to make a good deal! Usually, they calculate it per boat so if you are a group of friends or family, at the end, you can easily pay almost the same or even less per person than on a public trip.

For an approx. 3 hours long private trip, 500-600.000 IDR considered normal for a medium-sized boat. Calculate paying if you are signing up for an organized whole day trip that includes shuttle, lunch and entrance fees. Of course, the best and cheapest option is to stay at places where you can do free shore snorkeling like in Amed or Tulamben.

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Bali beach with white boats

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

21 thoughts on “Snorkeling in Bali – Complete Bali snorkel guide 2020

  • 2018-08-02 at 15:15
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    With your advice I try to snorkeling in front of Kembali beach bungalow in Amed (Bali) and i’M sorry but there is nothing… Just a little coral and fish. And its not beautiful because i think the coral is dead (grey color)

    Reply
    • 2018-08-03 at 22:23
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      Hi Elodie,

      Sorry to hear that you didn’t find the reef we recommended, maybe it was just a misunderstanding on the location. The reef starts in front of Amed Beach Villa-Warung Pyramids (this is where we always saw turtles) than follows the coast towards Jemeluk Bay. We took many photos there that we will add soon to our gallery, but here is one as an example which shows this is definitely not a dead reef. I know what you mean by saying grey color, we also experienced on some days that the whole reef looked greyish, this is because the corals are different in Bali, mainly yellowish-greenish not so colorful like in the Red Sea for example, and depending on the tide, there could be a layer on the sea surface containing fine black sand which makes the color appear greyish. But if you swim under this layer, you can see the real color of the corals. We snorkeled this area almost every day and it was different each time! If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and enjoy your time in Bali!

      Seastar on the sea bottom

      Reply
    • 2019-02-24 at 01:19
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      A healthy coral reef is not governed by it’s colour, it’s by the life that you find there, including all levels of predators and prey.

      Reply
  • 2019-01-24 at 12:13
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    Do we need to know swimming for snorkelling ?

    Reply
  • 2019-01-30 at 15:29
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    Hey Anett,
    I have one opportunity for a 1/2 or full day snorkel in Bali, coming from cairns I have snorkeled many locations out on the Great Barrier Reef. With only one opportunity to experience the snorkelling in Bali… where would you pick?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • 2019-01-31 at 15:54
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      Hi Amber,
      If I were you, I would go for a full day trip to Nusa Penida! Nice corals + you can swim with manta rays too. Day trips are available from the bigger harbors so it can be easily organized if you will stay somewhere near the airport. Usually the tour operators provide transfer too.
      On the main island, I think Amed is the best area to snorkel but it is far from Denpasar so I don’t know if it’s worth the long drive if you have 1 day only.
      Hope this helps, have a nice holiday!
      BR, Anett

      Reply
  • 2019-05-17 at 16:49
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    Hi there, great guide! Do you recommend anywhere else to snorkel around the mid west or south coast of Bali? I’ve already booked accommodation in seminyak but am an avid snorkeller. Really want to go too Amed but the cost of going there is about $50 USD one way by the cheapest mode of transport.

    Reply
    • 2019-05-17 at 16:51
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      And moreover, it’s about a 4 hour trip, which would be hard to deal with on a one week trip for someone with crappy health like myself.

      Reply
      • 2019-05-17 at 22:16
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        FYI, we took a taxi from Amed to the airport and it took only 2 hours and 30 minutes and the price was 500.000 IDR. Or try to ask your hotel to arrange you a driver, I’m sure they can get you a good price, or ask Moyo Transfer, we used them and everything was OK!

        Reply
    • 2019-05-17 at 22:10
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      Hi Jackie, glad you found our post helpful! To be honest, the beaches on the South coast are not really good for snorkeling due to the waves, but you might sign up for a Nusa Penida day trip that includes manta snorkeling too (unfortunately I don’t know what is the price but there are a lot of organizers offering Nusa Penida snorkel trips that leave usually from Sanur with free hotel pick-up and drop-off included) Alternatively, you might visit the Blue Lagoon near Padang Bai and also Virgin Beach in Karangasem! Hope this helps, regards, Anett

      Reply
  • 2019-07-01 at 07:03
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    How much (approximately) would it cost to rent a snorkel, mask, fins, and life preserver if you just want to do some snorkeling by yourself? Mike

    Reply
    • 2019-09-08 at 21:39
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      Hi Mike,
      it shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars but be careful and check if the gear they give you it’s not broken. Some hotel offer free snorkel gear for the guests, it is worth to check it out.
      BR, Anett

      Reply
  • 2019-09-19 at 01:57
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    Hi Anett, I’ll be going in Nov 2019 and want to snorkel and not run into plastic pollution. I’ve thought of going to Gili Islands rather than right around Bali. Any advice to have a minimum of pollution while snorkeling? I’m also going to scuba dive, so if that advice is different, I’d appreciate both!

    Reply
    • 2019-09-19 at 21:44
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      Hi Jim,
      I do recommend to go to Amed and Tulamben in Bali. Nice reefs, rich marine life, good spots both for diving and snorkeling. I visited the area 2 times last year and never experienced plastic pollution while snorkeling, except 1-2 smaller items that I collected (unfortunately the rubbish situation is really bad on land). Regarding the Gili Islands, my experience is that the sea is usually clear with great visibility around the North Gilis (Trawangan, Air and Meno) and there is more floating plastic around the South Gilis like Nanggu, Layar and Asahan. But of course, it all depends on the currents that are constantly changing, so you never know. Probably you’ve also seen videos that were taken in Nusa Penida when the poor mantas are swimming in plastic. When we were there, there was no plastic at all in Manta Bay. If you have time, I recommend visiting Nusa Penida as well, because there are really nice spots to snorkel or dive like the Wall or Gamat Bay.
      Hope this helps,
      Anett

      Reply
  • 2019-11-11 at 11:27
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    Hi! How are you? I’m also planning to visit Bali in Nov 27 – Dec 4 this year. I have read your suggestion above and many thanks for that. However, i just want to confirm whether it will be an okay time for snorkelling given the onset of rainy season? Thanks!

    Reply
    • 2019-11-17 at 21:22
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      Hi Megha,
      Thanks for your comment, I’m happy that you found our posts helpful! I don’t think the weather would be an issue! Yes, it is the start of the rainy season so you can expect some rain maybe even storms, but is still a good time to visit Bali. If it rains, it is not all day, the sea is warm (27C/81F) and the air is hot – no need to worry 🙂
      Enjoy Bali, it is an amazing place!
      BR, Anett

      Reply
  • 2019-12-10 at 17:06
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    We stayed in Sanur in October for a few days then went on a snorkel live aboard around Komodo island. We had incredible underwater experiences and literally swam with mantas around us, the best experience our dive master had seen in his 4 years. So we know coming to Bali to snorkel cannot compare but we want to have a beach holiday with some snorkelling . Where would you recommend that is not too busy with best off the beach snorkelling please ? We want to see more of non tourist spot Bali too .
    Armed or Pemuteran area ?
    any advice would be most appreciated.

    Reply
    • 2019-12-16 at 03:16
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      Hi Lee,

      Komodo is wonderful, we have been there in May (there will be a post about the trip online soon) and enjoyed it a lot, beautiful corals and amazing nature !
      In Bali, I recommend Amed. It has good beaches for shore snorkeling, clear water and nice reefs with turtles around. Here is a short guide where to snorkel: https://snorkelaroundtheworld.com/2018/07/top-5-amed-snorkeling-spots-bali/ Also make sure to visit the Tulamben shipwreck, it is just 30 mins from Amed and a really impressive one, find info here: https://snorkelaroundtheworld.com/2018/08/tulamben-snorkeling/
      Amed is not that touristy than the places closer to Denpasar and also there are nice temples, waterfalls around and you can do volcano trips too. I really love Amed and spend a few days there every time I visit Bali.
      Hope this helps, enjoy your holiday!
      BR, Anett

      Reply
  • 2020-01-30 at 06:10
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    Great article and tips!
    We plan to visit Bali in October this year with a group for my birthday. We are thinking about renting a villa for a group of 3-4 couples and 3 children. We are hoping to find something on a decent swim snorkel beach but also fairly centrally located as we want to experience as much of the island as possible. 1. Where would you suggest to look to stay? 2. What are the top beaches to visit for snorkeling?we are good swimmers but I don’t like to strong currents or big waves. We love to see turtles especially. 3. We plant to stay 14 days. Would you suggest staying in one location or splitting the trip up staying in two different locations?
    Thanks in advance!!!

    Reply
    • 2020-02-01 at 00:00
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      Hi Helene,
      I’m happy that you liked my post!
      Bali is such a big and beautiful island so I definitely recommend splitting the trip up in two (or even 3 different locations).
      I think it would be a good idea to spend a few days somewhere near the airport ‘to feel the vibe’ and look around a bit. I would not recommend the very central areas such as Kuta if you go with children, but Jimbaran or Nusa Dua are not that busy and from there you can easily visit Uluwatu, the south coast (which is beautiful) or make a day trip to one of the Nusa Islands (I recommend Penida because this is where you can see manta rays, however sometimes the water can be rough, here is my post if you want to read more info: https://snorkelaroundtheworld.com/2018/09/manta-snorkeling-nusa-penida/) My top area for snorkeling in Bali is definitely Amed. It is not too touristy, there are many beaches where you can snorkel from the shore and the sea is usually calm. It is safe for kids too and yes, there are turtles (see in my post where: https://snorkelaroundtheworld.com/2018/07/top-5-amed-snorkeling-spots-bali/ ) Also, there are a lot of things to do and see in the area, waterfalls, water palace, Lempuyang Temple, rice fields etc… so I really think this would be a good place for you, you can easily spend a week here without getting bored. And I didn’t mention the amazing restaurants 🙂
      Hope this helps 🙂
      BR, Anett

      Reply

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