Bali Freediving – Underwater adventures on the Island of the Gods…

Bali Freediving – Underwater adventures on the Island of the Gods…

Bali is fast becoming a blip on the freediving radar. This is no surprise when you consider the marine life, dive sites and culture here.

Bali freediving - Island of the Gods

Amed… Secret waterfalls and beaches.

We start our journey in the relaxed fishing town of Amed on Bali’s North East coast, at a spot called Jemeluk Bay. Sheltered from currents and sloping from shallow coral gardens to reefs as deep as 47m. This is the perfect place to do a PADI Freediver course.

A sheer wall covered in large branching Gorgonian coral drops from 10m to 30m. A fishing ban means marine life is abundant here. I’ve seen a few whitetip reef sharks, one manta ray and several eagle rays. There have also been rare occasions of dolphin interaction and at least 3 whale shark sightings.

Mount Agung volcano can be seen to the North. A cliff-top bar and restaurant overlooks the shimmering waters of the bay. In the evening people gather here to watch the sun set.

A road runs along the coastline with ocean on one side and towering hills on the other. Three shipwrecks, waterfalls, beaches and miles of coral reef wait to be discovered. Traditional culture is very much intact here. Hindu ceremonies are a colorful, musical delight and happen all year round.

Labyrinth of mystery…

Nearby in Tulumben, the USAT Liberty wreck is home to many fish species and lies covered in corals at a depth varying from 5-25m. This depth profile makes it one of the best wrecks I know for both beginner and advanced freedivers. Large turtles are a regular sight here. They feast on corals, seemingly unbothered by regular visitors.

There are many overhangs, holes, swim-throughs, cracks and crevices to be explored. Freediving at night with powerful LED torches often reveals large Bump-head Parrot fish, skulking about in groups.

What I like most about this site is how the atmosphere and fish behavior can seem so different from one visit to the next. I know this marine labyrinth like the back of my hand, but never tire of it.

Swim with Giants…

Our adventure now takes us just off Bali’s South East coast, to the small islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. There are some great drift dives to be done here when the current picks up. It’s a popular spot for selective/sustainable spearfishing, as some of the largest Dogtooth Tuna in the world dwell here.

The upwelling of cold water currents around these islands bring food for Manta rays and this is the best location in Bali to meet them face to face.

Boat trips to well known feeding stations put freedivers and snorkelers right on the action. The Mantas can be seen gliding and barrel rolling from the surface down to a depth of 6m as they make circuits of the area.

The Batcave of Crystal Bay

For the more adventurous freedivers, there is a little known and truly magical underwater swim-through to be experienced by the cliffs in nearby Crystal bay. You will surface on the inside of a cavern filled with screeching bats!

Schools of baitfish take refuge in the cave, which is totally isolated from the ocean movement on the outside. A beam of light enters the cave from an opening in the roof. The only way into this cave is through the underwater passage. The entrance looks dark and daunting but it’s certainly possible for an entry level PADI freediver.

When to visit?

The best time of year to dive here is between April and November. These months offer the best visibility. The rainy season runs from December to March and you are more likely to encounter days of bad visibility during these months. However, there are still good dive days during the rainy season.

The general land temperature is more hot and humid from December to March, another reason to avoid these months if possible. On the flip side, during or just after rainy season is when the waterfalls are pumping and the plants are at their greenest. My favorite month is May. It’s dry with good water conditions, but the plants are still happy. They tend to dry up a bit towards October time.

There is so much to see and do in Bali, we just skimmed the surface here. For more articles, videos, trips and information about freediving courses in Bali visit: www.fathomfreedive.com