Diving in Indonesia: 8 Bucket List Dive Sites

Diving in Gili T

Diving in Indonesia is a must-do for any underwater adventurer. An epicentre of biodiversity, these waters host a greater variety of marine life than anywhere else on earth. From tiny pygmy seahorses and macro critters to magnificent manta rays and the mighty Mola, there are plenty of creatures to see. 

I arrived in Indonesia, as a very anxious diver with no experience. However, after undertaking my Open Water Diving Certification in the Banda Islands, I fell in love with Indonesia’s underwater world and have since dived at sites across the country. In this guide, I’ll outline the must-visit scuba dive spots in Indonesia, so that you too can experience the myriad of marine life that call these waters home. 

Related: (opens in new tab)

Best Time to Dive in Indonesia

The best time to dive in Indonesia depends on the specific location. With over 17,500 islands, the landscape changes drastically and so does the weather. It’s best to check with the dive centre before arriving to assess the conditions. 

During the low season, certain dive centres will close due to rough seas and minimal transportation options. In contrast, the dive centres in Bali are usually open year-round, and dive sessions will depend on the weather forecast that day. The best time to scuba dive in Bali is during the dry season (April-October) as the water is generally warm and calm. 

Did you know? Indonesia is part of the Coral Triangle! This area in the Western Pacific Ocean is rich in marine life and is home to over 80% of the world’s coral species. 

Different Types of Diving in Indonesia 

Discover Scuba Diving 

  • Suitable for: All levels

The Discover Scuba course is a one-day course that offers the basic foundations of scuba diving and gets you out in the water to learn vital skills. It’s suitable for individuals aged over ten and you can dive to a maximum of 12m but only under supervision from a professional. The Discover Scuba course is a great way to check if diving is for you. You can then decide if you want to progress to the Open Water Diving course. 

Open Water Diving

  • Suitable for: All levels

Open Water Diving allows you to scuba dive with a certified guide to a maximum depth of 18m. It is the first scuba certification level and certified Open Water divers will have an overwhelming amount of dive sites to choose from, including drift dives, wall dives, and macro dives. Some reefs are shallow, meaning you can enjoy them at just 5-8 metres deep when the visibility is good. 

Muck Diving

  • Suitable for: All levels

Muck diving gets its name from the bottom of the ocean floor. This is where divers go to explore certain marine species and corals. Ambon Bay Maluku and Lembeh North Sulawesi are some of Indonesia’s best muck dive spots.

Wreck Diving

  • Suitable for: Advanced Open Water Certified Divers

Those who hold their Advanced Open Water certification can get involved in recreational wreck diving. The ability to explore shipwrecks, planes, and artificial underwater dive structures, adds another element of excitement to the dive. Indonesia has several wreck dives, including the P47 Thunderbolt Wreck in Raja Ampat and the SS USAT Liberty Wreck at Tulamben. 

Drift Diving

  • Suitable for: All levels (certain dive sites require previous experience)

Drift diving is the term used when there is a strong ocean current and the diver allows themselves to be carried along with it. It provides a more natural underwater experience and many divers say that it is their favourite way to dive. Bangka and Belitung in Sumatra have a channel between the two islands, creating one of the region’s best drift dives. Alternatively, advanced-level scuba divers can travel to north Komodo to experience strong currents. 

Night Diving

  • Suitable for: Advanced Open Water Certified Divers

Recreational night dives are a fantastic way to see the marine life that comes out to play after dark. Night diving is commonly referred to as Fluo Night Diving, due to divers using special fluorescent lights that highlight certain species of coral, shrimp, crabs, fish, and jellyfish. Most dive centres in Indonesia can organise a night dive trip for certified divers. 

8 Amazing Dive Destinations in Indonesia

1. Banda Islands 

  • Location: Maluku 
  • Diving season: March-May or August-October (Hammerhead season)
  • Required skill level: All levels
Diving Banda Neira
The visibility around the Banda Islands is excellent for divers.

The Banda Islands are a collection of seven volcanic islands in the Banda Sea. The islands are so remote that the waters offer excellent visibility and abundant marine life. The sites are often home to mandarin fish, scorpion leaf fish, moray and garden eels, triggerfish, bumphead parrot fish, black-spotted morays, sea snakes, and black-tip reef sharks. 

Some of the best dive spots around the Banda Islands include Batu Kapal, Banda Besar, Lava Flow, Pulau Hatta, and Pulau Keraka. For a chance to see schools of hammerhead sharks, travel there for the second dive season of the year, when the cooler waters are more likely to bring the sharks. 

Banda Neira
The island of Banda Neira.

Getting there: Travelling to the Banda Islands is best done by ferry from the port of Ambon to Banda Neira. Visitors should travel to the Banda Islands during one of the two annual high seasons, between March and May or August to October.

2. Nusa Penida & Nusa Lembongan 

  • Location: Nusa Islands, south coast of Bali 
  • Diving season: November-May
  • Required skill level: All levels
The coral reef at Nusa Lembongan
The coral reef at Nusa Lembongan.

Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan offer several popular dive spots just a short boat ride from mainland Bali. Divers travel here searching for mantas (seen year-round) and mola-mola (only from July to November). 

Expect to see beautiful coral gardens, large schools of fish, turtles, frogfish, reef sharks, pufferfish, cuttlefish, octopus, and, of course, manta rays. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the best place to see manta rays is at Manta Point in the southwest corner of Nusa Penida but don’t forget to check out Crystal Bay, Toyapakeh, and Sental too. 

Read more about diving in Nusa Lembongan. 

manta ray Nusa Lembongan Indonesia
You can spot manta rays at Nusa Penida!

Getting there: To reach the Nusa Islands, travel by speedboat or ferry from Sanur port in Bali. All tourists arriving by boat have to pay a tourist fee of 25,000IDR (less than $2USD) to enter. 

3. Raja Ampat 

  • Location: West Papua 
  • Diving season: October-May
  • Required skill level: All levels 
Raja Ampat Indonesia
Dive season at Raja Ampat is between October and May.

Raja Ampat has long been known as one of the premier diving locations in Indonesia due to the sheer number of dive sites, variety of marine life and natural beauty of the islands. 

The dive spot of Cape Kri in between the islet Koh and Pulau Kri is considered one of the best places in the world to dive. Manta Ridge is popular with experienced divers who can handle the strong currents and Blue Magic, with its oceanic mantas, cannot be missed! For divers who want to see fully-grown grey, white, and black-tip sharks, Chicken Reef has to be on your list. 

Diving Banda 1
There are over 1,500 species of fish in Raja Ampat!

Getting there: Hop on a flight to Makassar or Sorong and take a speedboat to the islands. Lion Air and Citilink now offer direct flights from Bali to Makassar. A ferry from Bali to Makassar takes between two and three days. 

4. Komodo National Park

  • Location: East Nusa Tenggara
  • Diving season: March-October or December-January (Manta season)
  • Required skill level: All levels
A Diver at Cannibal Rock, Komodo
Liveaboards are a popular way to see Komodo National Park.

Travellers go to Komodo National Park for two reasons. Firstly, to see the rare Indonesian animal the Komodo Dragon and secondly, to experience world-class diving. In Komodo, you will find healthy reefs with over 200 varieties of coral. Yellow Wall, Manta Ally and End Of The World are popular dive sites known for their incredible macro marine life. 

After diving around the north and south of the island, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen it all. However, central Komodo has even more dive sites, including Batu Bolong, Pengah, Tetawa Kecil, Siaba Kecil, Siaba Besar, and Pilaarsteen on Padar Island.  

By far, one of the best ways to experience diving in this region is on a liveaboard. This will help you to easily access all the dive sites and maximise your time in the water.

Read more about diving in Komodo National Park. 

A Squat Lobster
A squat lobster at Komodo.

Getting there: Take a flight to Labuan Bajo (the gateway to Komodo) on the island of Flores. From there, hop on a boat out to Komodo Island. Flights depart from most major cities in Indonesia, including Bali, Lombok and Jakarta

5. Tulamben Bay

  • Location: North-east coast of Bali 
  • Diving season: Year-round (Conditions are best April-June) 
  • Required skill level: All levels
Diving with AquaMarine Bali
Bali is home to plenty of dive sites, including a WWII wreck!

Tulamben is known for its calm waters, making it an ideal location for beginner divers and those who prefer dive spots accessible from the shore. The topography of the shallow reefs ensures divers of all abilities can enjoy beautiful corals and marine life (that includes those on Discover Scuba dives). 

For more experienced divers, the USAT Liberty Wreck is one of Bali’s most popular dive sites starting at just 5m and reaching a depth of 30m. Marine life in this region is abundant and trevally, giant barracuda, turtles, black tip reef sharks, moray eels, mola mola, groupers, eagle rays and ghost pipefish are all regularly spotted there. Divers in this area have even been lucky enough to see a whale shark in the past!

Also read: Swimming with Whale Sharks in Asia.  

Diving with AquaMarine Bali
Keep an eye out for sea turtles!

Getting there: Tulamben is located on the island of Bali, about a four-hour drive from Denpasar. The most popular way to get there is by car and you can hire a driver through local apps like Grab and GoJek. 

6. Gili Trawangan 

  • Location: Northwest coast of Lombok
  • Diving season: Year-round (Conditions are best September-November)
  • Required skill level: All levels 
Gili T, Indonesia
Will you be able to find Nemo in the waters around Gili T?

One of the main reasons Gili Trawangan is a dream destination to dive is the Meno Wall, also known as Turtle Heaven. Here you can find large numbers of hawksbill and green sea turtles and at a comfortable 18 metres, this dive site is suitable for all levels. 

Other options include Halik which is a deeper dive reaching about 24m, Deep Turbo for drift dives (advanced level required), and Shark Point. The Gilis are ideal for new divers who want to take their Open Water course. There are several highly rated dive schools on Gili T offering everything from accommodation packages, to dive trips and instructor courses. 

Also read: Snorkelling in Gili T

Diving Gili T
Diving in Gili Trawangan.

Getting there: You can travel to the Gili Islands either by taking a direct ferry from South Bali (Serangan Harbour), Ubud (Padang Bai Harbour) or North Bali (Amed Beach). The ferries go to Gili Trawangan across the Lombok Strait and take between 1.5 – 2.5 hours. 

7. Wakatobi Islands 

  • Location: South-east Sulawesi 
  • Diving season: May-October 
  • Required skill level: All levels
Wakatobi Islands
The Wakatobi Islands are a hub of marine diversity.

Did you know that there are over 40 dive sites in Wakatobi National Park? There are endless options for scuba divers here, the hardest thing will be choosing where to go first!

The private marine preserve The Zoo is immensely diverse and the perfect place to see a variety of fish and hard corals. And, if you love to swim beside turtles; Wakatobi’s House Reef is one of the best shore dives in the world. 

Wakatobi, a combination of the four main islands of Wangi Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko, lead the way in the region’s marine conservation, offering visitors pristine dive spots and picture-perfect island views. 

Diving 1
There are over 40 dive sites in Wakatobi National Park!

Getting there: Book a flight to Makassar or Kendari. From there you can take a local flight to Wangi Wangi or Bau Bau. 

8. Maratua, Derawan Islands

  • Location: Off the north coast of east Kalimantan 
  • Diving season: Year-round (Conditions are best March-October)
  • Required skill level: All levels

With currents flowing between the Java and Celebes Seas, Maratua and the islands in the Derawan Archipelago are home to whale sharks, thresher sharks, leopard sharks, mantas, turtles, blue-ringed octopus, broadclub cuttlefish and sea snakes. Dive sites include Coral Garden, Sponge Reef, East Wall and for advanced divers; Channel.

YouTube video

Getting there: Take a flight to Tarakan in East Kalimantan. From Tarakan take a speedboat to the Derawan Islands, in particular to Maratua Island, which is around a two-hour trip. Flights to Tarakan usually have a stopover in Surabaya with carriers including Lion Air and Batik Air. Another option is to fly to Balikpapan and take a private charter flight arranged via your hotel. 

Diving in Indonesia – FAQs

How much does diving in Indonesia cost? Scuba diving in Indonesia provides excellent value for money. Prices vary depending on the dive centre, location, and time of year/season. Most dive centres will offer discounts on day trips and packages but there are additional costs such as equipment hire and national park fees that may not be included. 

The following rates are an estimate of the average rates across Indonesia:

  • Open Water Course: Approx. 5,000,000-6,000,000IDR ($325-$390USD)
  • Discover Scuba: Approx. 1,000,000-2,000,000IDR ($65-$130USD)
  • Boat dive: Approx. 500,000-700,000IDR ($30-$45USD)
  • Night dive: Approx. 100,000-200,000IDR ($7-$12USD)
  • Equipment hire: Starting from 200,000IDR ($12USD) 

Where can I book diving experiences in Indonesia? You can book your diving experience in Indonesia at any dive centre once you arrive. There is also the option to book online in advance. In peak season, it is important to book ahead. Remember to check the recent guest reviews and find a reliable centre that is well-known in the area. If you want to get certified, you can find PADI and SSI dive centres across Indonesia. 

A clown fish in the anemone Nusa Lembongan Indonesia
Peekaboo! You never know what you might spot when you’re diving in Indonesia.

What is a liveaboard? A liveaboard is typically an all-inclusive trip on a yacht that brings you from the mainland out to sea. It is the perfect option for those wanting to go island hopping, snorkel, swim, dive and explore the region from a different perspective. A liveaboard is also referred to as a Dive Charter and is carried out on a purpose-built vessel which is good for travelling to remote parts of the islands. A charter will usually set sail for a week to ten days. Prices usually include food and dive equipment. 

Is Bali good for scuba diving? Bali is good for scuba diving because the island is home to some of the most diverse dive spots in the world. Bali is home to several dive centres and can organise diving trips elsewhere in Indonesia should you wish to explore further.

When it comes to diving in Indonesia, there are countless sites for travellers to enjoy, no matter their ability. Choose to set sail on a luxurious liveaboard to the remote islands of Raja Ampat, or backpack Indonesia’s traveller hotspots and take day trips to see majestic marine life. 

With everything from green sea turtles to hammerhead sharks, Indonesia’s breathtaking dive sites will open up a whole new underwater world while providing a thrill that few other activities will. 

Have you dived in Indonesia? What are your favourite dive sites?

Cherie Julie | Travel For Change Collective

Cherie founded a responsible tourism blog, Travel For Change, in 2016 with the desire to encourage other travellers to wander with purpose. Today the blog has transformed into a copywriting business for mindful brands where Cherie writes on a variety of topics such as the environment, human rights, animal welfare and sustainable travel.

Find her on: Instagram

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top