Dream of exploring the crystal clear waters of Maldives but can’t bear the damage it’ll do to your wallet? The good news is that there are other green pastures (or should we say, blue waters) out there waiting for you to explore – at much more affordable prices.
Bali, known for its postcard-perfect pristine beaches and spectacularly turquoise waters, is home to some of the best snorkelling spots in the world. Part of the “coral triangle”, also called the “Amazon of the Ocean”, Bali’s reefs boast a huge variety of vivid corals and tropical marine life – including six out of seven species of the world’s graceful, gentle sea turtles.
Not every part of Bali’s seas is good for snorkelling no thanks to strong currents and murkier waters. That’s why, to help you turn your travel dreams into reality, we’ve rounded up the best places for snorkelling in Bali, including what to consider before wading into its crystal waters.
Let’s snorkel (haha, get it?) right in.
Nusa Penida, Bali
Nusa Penida Bali is home to many great snorkelling spots, rich in marine life and suitable for snorkellers with various levels of experience.
Swimming alongside graceful manta rays – that’s another thing to check off your bucket list as you explore the clear waters of Bali!
One of the must-visit places in Nusa Penida, which is home to many wonderful snorkelling spots, is Manta Bay; its name already reveals what exactly it is you’ll see when you swim there.
Your guide will take you by boat to where the manta rays are at. Jump into the waters, and you’ll enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience of paddling through the ocean with majestic manta rays darting to and fro right next to you, since these sea creatures typically don’t shy away from humans.
Crystal Bay is a spot that’s suitable for beginner snorkellers thanks to its super shallow waters. Instead of taking a boat out to the middle of the ocean, gear up on shore and wade right into the sea.
Since Crystal Bay boasts, yes, crystal clear waters, you’ll have up to 30 metres of visibility – a view from the surface to the ocean’s bed. You’ll be able to sight lively corals even as you swim at the water’s surface.
Pssst! Crystal Bay’s south-westward-facing coastline also makes the white sandy beaches the best spot for admiring a glorious orange sunset on Nusa Penida in Bali.
Though right next to Crystal Bay, Gamat Bay is difficult to access by road, which is why it’s a destination for mostly snorkelling and diving activities.
Since getting to Gamat Bay by foot would mean trekking dirt roads and steep terrains, it’s best to hire a boat from the neighbouring Crystal Bay or Toya Pakeh instead.
The strong currents at Gamat Bay mean that you’re better off leaving this snorkelling spot to the pros if you’ve just started snorkelling. Most of the marine life here is seen seven to eight metres beneath the water’s surface, so this location is perhaps more of a scuba diver’s paradise.
Book a Snorkeling Experience in Nusa Penida (Manta Bay, Wall bay, Banana Beach, Ceningan View, and Mangrove Point) for S$41.19 instead of S$42.39 on Klook.
Nusa Dua, Bali
Just a 10-minute drive from the airport, Nusa Dua is considered one of the luxury resort spots in Bali because its sandy shoreline is lined with rows and rows of resorts, perfect for a group of friends or family getaway.
Located in the Southern part of Bali where snorkelling spots are limited, Nusa Dua’s Tanjung Benoa Beach is one of the rarer places (in the South) to snap on your snorkelling gear and start swimming.
This is a spot that’s ideal for first-time snorkellers and kids because it isn’t as teeming with a diversity of marine life. However, you’ll still get to catch a breathtaking glimpse of tropical fishes, seahorses, and ridged coral reefs.
Not the first place that expert snorkellers will pick, Nusa Dua, instead, is the best spot for a family-friendly resort vacation with a side of snorkelling activities, in which everyone from young to old can participate together.
Book a Snorkeling Experience at Nusa Dua Bali for S$22.75 instead of S$25.89 on Klook.
Padang Bai, Bali
The Blue Lagoon Beach at Padang Bai looks like a cocooned, secret beach paradise from a bird’s eye view; the brilliant blue waters are surrounded on both sides by cliffs, and the beach isn’t as wide as others in Bali, so it looks like a hidden bay that you’ll only stumble upon during your adventures.
Blue Lagoon’s relatively calm waters are what make it a popular snorkelling spot for families and those new to the sport. Slip into the waters in the mornings to avoid the rougher waves that stir up in the afternoons.
The blue, blue waters here are full of vibrant marine life including cuttlefish, angelfish, starfish, and moray eels, but the downside is that it’s an on-the-radar tourist attraction. Unfortunately, that means more rubbish washing up on the should-be-pristine shores.
Book a Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Jepun Snorkeling in Padang Bai Bali for S$10.35 instead of S$37.69 on Klook.
Book a Blue Lagoon Snorkeling in Bali With an Optional Sightseeing Gate of Heaven Tour for S$17.25 instead of S$23.55 on Klook.
Gili Islands, Lombok (near Bali)
Although the Gili Islands are part of Lombok in Indonesia, not Bali, we’re sneaking them onto our list because they’re located so close to the province in question. In fact, many tourists travel to the small off-shore islands from Bali instead of Lombok, because of how convenient it is, to enjoy a day or two-day trip there.
The Gili Islands are an archipelago formed by three tiny islands, the Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.
Why snorkel here in Bali? Besides the teeming marine life in the turquoise waters, you’ll also get to discover underwater statues and shipwrecks that have made their home on Bali’s seabed.
Haunting and beautiful all at the same time, the Gili Meno statues are a tourist hotspot for snorkelling and diving, since you can view the statues both from the water’s surface as well as at eye level.
Symbolising the continuity of life, the life-sized statues feature couples embracing and surrounding figures curled up on the floor. Spookier still is the fact that the statues were made from casts of real people.
So, if you’re hoping for amped-up mystery, adventure, and ‘gram-worthy photos as you snorkel, then be sure to check out the waters surrounding the Gili Meno island, just beyond Bali.
And, for a blurry glimpse of a Japanese World War II shipwreck from the surface of the water, then snorkel in the deep blues at Gili Trawangan – you’ll just about make out the shape of the ship from where you’re at.
Ditch a polished resort holiday and embrace an authentic, close-to-nature Bali experience at Tulamben, a small fishing village that’s nestled on the northeastern coast of the country.
USAT Liberty Shipwreck
This is another must-visit destination for snorkelling when you’re in Bali, because it’s where you can discover the shipwreck of the USAT Liberty, a United States Army cargo ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese, along the Lombok Strait, during the Second World War.
The ship was beached for 20 years at Tulamben before Bali’s Mount Agung erupted in 1963, causing the ship to sink to the bottom of the sea.
Just off the coast of Tulamben, the USAT Liberty shipwreck has become a famous dive and snorkelling site – even at the water’s surface, you’ll be able to view the sunken ship, covered in coral and now home to over 400 species of tropical fish.
Tulamben Coral Garden
Just 300 metres away from the USAT Liberty Shipwreck is the Tulamben Coral Garden, a shallow reef that thrives with an abundance of colourful corals and marine life.
Stretching about 150 metres along the shore of Tulamben Bay and at a shallow depth of just three to 12 metres, the Coral Garden is a sweet spot for snorkellers and beginner scuba divers.
You’ll get to witness your childhood’s Finding Nemo come to life with distinctive sea anemones and darting orange-black clownfish. Vibrant blue and yellow ribbon eels are also a common sight at this flourishing reef, and, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see blacktip and whitetip reef sharks too.
Book a Snorkeling Experience in Tulamben, Padang Bai, Amed, or Nusa Penida by Bali Aqua Dive Center for S$81.69 instead of S$84.75 on Klook. You’ll have the option to choose one of four snorkelling spots for this two to three-hour guide in Bali.
What makes Amed stand out is the glorious view it gives of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano – you’ll see a perfectly conical silhouette against the backdrop of clear blue sky.
Located on the northeastern coast of Bali, known for its flourishing reefs, Amed Beach boasts an abundance of snorkelling spots which are suitable for snorkellers at all levels, beginner to pro.
This one’s a top snorkelling spot for tourists because of its central, easy-to-access location, and its clear waters are also nothing short of spectacularly rich with marine life.
Besides beautiful marine life, you’ll also be able to peek at the famous Underwater Temple, also known as the Underwater Post Office, which is located in the centre of the bay.
How to find it? Look out for an orange buoy bobbing on the water’s surface, which marks the location of the underwater sculpture.
Since Jemeluk Bay’s shores hug the sea in a crescent shape, these Bali waters are often calm, making this snorkelling location safe for even kids to explore.
The great coral structures at Lipah Beach are reason enough to snap on your snorkelling gear and swim into the blue waters. You’ll catch sight of many majestic corals structures and even stunning flashes of vibrant red – thanks to the many red gorgonians (or red sea fans) that pepper the ocean bed.
It’s best to wade into the waters at Bali’s Lipah Beach only when the tide is higher so as not to injure yourself on the coral; should the waters be too shallow, you might scratch yourself on the hard structures.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for blue-spotted stingrays and mackerel fish here – the corals aren’t the only stars when it comes to snorkelling at this Bali beach.
Book a Snorkeling Experience in Amed With an Optional Visit to Gates of Heaven or Tirta Gangga starting from S$4.09 on Klook.
Bali tour packages that include snorkelling
Bali 4 days 3 nights Beach & Surf Package
The Bali 4 days 3 nights Beach & Surf Package includes a snorkelling session at Tanjung Benoa Beach, alongside other activities like surfing, parasailing, and just chilling at the beach. You’ll also be able to visit landmarks like the Tanah Lot Temple, Bedegul Temple, or the famous Kintamani volcano.
Get the Bali 4 days 3 nights Beach & Surf Package for US$165 on Bookmundi.
Four Island Paradise Tour: Bali, Lembongan, Lombok & Gili
Travel to the islands of Bali, Lembongan, Lombok, and Gili with the Four Island Paradise Tour.
You’ll get to snorkel with Manta Rays in Nusa Penida (Bali) as well as enjoy a private snorkelling trip around the three Gili islands, where you’ll get to see underwater sculptures and shipwrecks.
Get the Four Island Paradise Tour: Bali, Lembongan, Lombok & Gili for US$3,250 on Bookmundi.
Bali & Lombok Adventure
For the Bali & Lombok Adventure tour, you get to enjoy snorkelling in the waters around Menjangan Island reef and off the east coast of Lombok. You’ll also get to ascend Mt Batur to catch a glimpse of a beautiful sunrise, a view that stretches across the Lombok Strait and to the peaks of Mt Rinjani.
Even adventure on the Gili Islands at your own pace, and enjoy the white sandy beaches and dinner on the beachfront.
Get the Bali & Lombok Adventure starting from US$1,985 on Bookmundi.
Featured image credit: Pexels