Bali, the “Island of the Gods,” where the waves are blessed, and so are the sparkling black sands. Every year, tourists flock to the island for its diverse landscapes, rich culture, tropical weather, and, you guessed it, marine life.
Bali is a mecca for sea lovers. The island is home to some of the world’s most iconic surfing breaks and renowned diving spots. Yet, one of the easiest ways to explore the vibrant underwater worlds of Bali’s shores is by snorkeling, and the island is scattered with perfect locations for undisturbed coral reef vistas.
The best snorkeling beaches are on the east, northeast, and northwest sides of the island. Here the sea is calm, and the reefs are close to shore. So grab your mask because it’s time to explore some of these sumptuous spots for sun, sea, and snorkel, and they won’t disappoint.
Nusa Dua, South Bali
Snorkeling can be limited in the southeast due to strong currents and riptides, but the Tanjung Benoa reef of Nusa Dua is an ideal snorkeling spot for beginners. Crystal clear waters and colorful coral make this reef on the resort-lined south coast perfect for sunbathers and spontaneous snorkelers.
The water is shallow, and the reef isn’t expansive, so it’s kid-friendly and a great first-time snorkeling spot. The reef is easy to reach, and you can wade out to see it at any time of day. Snorkeling might not be a pull factor to these tranquil sandy shores, with Nusa Dua being more popular with laid-back holidaymakers looking to escape the bustling tourist towns of Bali for some five-star luxury. But if you happen to find yourself taking a break in the south, Tanjung Benoa shouldn’t go amiss.
Padangbai, East Bali
Located on the east coast, Padangbai boasts golden sands and relatively calm seas. Padangbai is a popular transit point when visiting or returning from the Gili Islands and Lombok, so if you have a night to spare in the eastern port town, make sure snorkeling is on the agenda.
Padangbai’s Blue Lagoon is a favorite for families and groups. True to its name, the water is azure and alluring, offering easy snorkeling, uninterrupted corals, and safe conditions. Make sure to visit in the morning when the currents are the least strong and enjoy the schools of fish that inhabit the corals.
Virgin Beach, East Bali
Virgin Beach in Karangasem is a slight stretch of white sand, widely regarded as undiscovered but growing in popularity due to its bright sandy shores that contrast the volcanic sands around the island. Limited crowds and shallow waters promise tranquil conditions and undisturbed marine life.
Virgin Beach is 20 km from Padangbai and is an idyllic spot to spend the day, largely still under the radar. Virgin Beach is also just a short drive from the Taman Ujung Water Palace in Amed, a former monument of the Karangasem empire.
The Virgin Beach reefs are just 5 to 10 meters from the shore, making them easily accessible for beachgoers and sun-lovers. Abundant tropical fish and sometimes even turtles populate this reef, and you can readily rent snorkeling gear from any of the beachfront warungs.
Amed, Northeast Bali
The signature black sands and rustic shores of Amed might not scream “snorkeling hotspot,” but Northeast is one of the best places to explore Bali’s underwater worlds, and we’re here to convince you of why. Amed’s shores are home to healthy reefs, manta rays, turtles, and even shipwrecks. The black sandy bottom of the ocean floor only makes the vibrant corals more vivid and magical.
The reef at Amed Beach in front of the Kembali Beach Bungalows boasts stunning artificial reefs, healthy corals, and turtle sightings are regularly reported. Jemuluk bay, the next cove from Amed, has a natural coral reef on its right side that is usually uncrowded and tranquil. At the same time, Lipah Beach and Bunatan Reef boast hard coral patches and colossal table corals fascinating to observe. Finally, the renowned small Japanese shipwreck point in Amed might not be well-preserved, but it’s covered in corals and home to fields of sea eels.
Tulamben Shipwreck and Coral Garden, Northeast Bali
The small village of Tulamben, adjacent to the majestic Mount Agung volcano, is famous as the home to the 125 m US Liberty Wreck, a WWII cargo ship bombed by Japan that washed up on Bali’s shores. After the 1963 Agung eruption, Liberty was pushed back into the shallow waters by the lava flow. Today, the wreck sits only 5m deep and marries global military history with Bali’s rich volcanic heritage.
Divers regularly visit the spot, but the shallow depth makes snorkeling the wreck even easier. Be sure to go as early as possible to avoid crowds and rough seas. The wreck sits among vibrant corals and tropical fish. There’s no buoy signposting it but finding Liberty is part of the adventure, and it won’t take long. Plus, the shallow Tulamben Coral Garden sits just a few hundred meters from the shipwreck, and both sites make for an exciting morning of snorkeling.
The calm waters make the Coral Garden easy to snorkel, and it’s home to some of the most diverse fish species on the island. An Underwater Temple also resides at the same spot with undersea statues, perfect for those GoPro snaps.
Menjangan Island, Northwest Bali
Bali’s west side is tranquil and largely undisturbed. Far removed from the tourist spots in the south, you can expect fewer crowds, unspoiled wildlife, and an authentic feel. Menjangan National Park is one of the most underrated spots in Bali for natural beauty and snorkeling opportunities.
This island, located 7 km off the northwest coast, is a protected marine reserve with preserved and diverse coral ecosystems. Among tropical fish, you can also spot colorful seabirds and even wild deer here who bathe in the shallow waters with the snorkelers. This is a truly unique spot and should be at the top of your Bali snorkeling itinerary.
Pemuteran Bay, Northwest Bali
This small fishing village, just a few kilometers east of west Bali’s national park, is home to the world’s most extensive coral reef conservation project. Started by locals in 2000, the total length of the artificial reef is more than 300 meters and forms a trail for snorkelers and divers to follow in the shallows of Pemuteran beach.
This bay is usually free of currents, rare for Bali’s wild shores, making it great for snorkel first-timers. Stay in the Taman Sari Resort, which is set just back from the Biorock Pemuteran reef, and enjoy a weekend of sun and snorkeling in the north.
Manta Bay, Nusa Penida
Home to the iconic Kelingking Beach viewpoint, better recognized as the T-rex rock, Nusa Penida is a sacred island spot just off the southeast coast of Bali. Along with Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, these islands complete the central archipelago of Bali.
If you’re not drawn in by Penida’s stunning natural beauty, the chance to swim with one of the world’s most fascinating sea creatures might just convince you. Thanks to the strong currents around Nusa Penida, manta rays are abundant all year round and can be spotted in their dozens at Manta Bay spot in the northwest of the island.
The manta rays gather in the shallow waters and pose no threat to humans as filter-feeder creatures. Gentle and majestic, observing these animals in their natural habitat is a bucket-list-worthy activity.
Toyapaken Wall Point and Buddha Temple, Nusa Islands
The Toyapakeh Wall is a scuba diver’s favorite with its diverse marine ecosystems and large coral beds. But it’s also a must-see if you’re snorkeling the Nusas and one of the most beautiful natural coral reef sets around Bali.
You can spot impressive pelagic fish like the Mola Mola, who populate the wall here. This species is recognizable by their gigantic bodies resembling pufferfish, but this fish can grow up to 10 feet long and are one of the heaviest bony fish in the world. You can reach the Toyapaken wall by boat and drift with the current as you explore the depths.
Although most Nusa Penida snorkeling trips include this spot on the itinerary, the Buddha Temple is an underwater statue in Nusa Ceningan. This stunning shrine is part of a vast artificial reef and is visible to snorkelers just 6 meters below the water’s surface. Don’t miss out on the chance to see lifesize Buddha statues sitting on the sea bed and enjoy the colorful corals around them.
Does Bali have good snorkeling?
Despite being a wild surfer’s paradise, Bali has some great snorkeling spots for first-timers, families, and even avid divers. The best locations are on the east, northeast, and northwest of the island, where you can find diverse marine ecosystems close to the shore in shallow waters. The currents also tend to be less strong, and the seas calmer here than the surfing hotspots in the west and south of the island.
How much does it cost to go snorkeling in Bali?
Snorkeling in Bali can be very inexpensive when you know what you’re doing. If you head to the beaches on the east coast like Padangbai Lagoon or Virgin Beach, you can rent snorkel equipment from any of the local beach warungs for as little as $5 for the whole day and explore the shallow reefs on your own accord. But if you want a complete snorkeling trip exploring some of the best spots in Bali, like the Menjangan National Park or the Nusa Islands, hiring a boat and a guide is your best bet.
Public trips in large groups can start at $5 per person for the whole day. Whereas a private boat can cost as little as $10 per person, or up to $50 if you want a speed boat instead of a local fishing barge, and refreshments included.
Are there coral reefs in Bali?
Bali is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural coral reefs because tropical waters create perfect conditions for vibrant coral, fish, and sea life to thrive. Bali also hosts several artificial reefs that are part of large-scale projects to rehabilitate Bali’s coral and conserve marine life. You can find small soft corals that move with the currents and expansive hard beds, both of which are home to a large variety of exotic fish.
Where can I snorkel with turtles in Bali?
Virgin Beach in East Bali and Amed in the north are known as great spots for observing turtles in their clear shallow waters. The coral reefs of Virgin Beach are close to the shore, and turtles have been seen moving through the shallows with snorkelers. At the same time, the black sand sea bed in Amed makes for a mesmerizing snorkeling site and only enhances the vibrant corals and magical turtles below the water. However, the best snorkeling spots close to Bali are, without a doubt, the Gili Islands. Often referred to as the “turtle capital of the world,” you can find turtles all around the three islands and Lombok’s shores. Turtle Bay in Gili Trawangan has such crystal clear and calm waters that you can spot turtles swimming in the shallows from your sunbed on the shore.