If you are planning a trip to Bali, make sure that diving in Nusa Lembongan is on the top of your bucket list. Not only is Nusa Lembongan an idyllic island destination for a tropical vacation, but it is also a great base for some of the best diving in Bali.
Once a small island made up of fishing and seaweed-farming villages, Nusa Lembongan is now a booming destination for surfers, beach lovers, scuba diving enthusiasts and honeymooners seeking a romantic getaway. From incredible cliff views that overlooks the turquoise ocean to tropical vibes that just don’t end, Nusa Lembongan is a dreamy, enchanting island that must be on your Bali itinerary.
Believe me, you will never want to leave this paradise once you set your foot on the island!
Nusa Lembongan has been an attractive destination for scuba divers in particular, with the magnificent sightings of the manta rays and the rare encounters with the Mola Molas (aka Sunfish).
In 2013, I spent two months on the island completing my PADI Divemaster training with World Diving Lembongan. I fell so in love with Bali that, for the two years that followed, I worked as a PADI scuba instructor and continued to dive the beautiful Nusa islands.
In this post, I share with you everything I know about diving in Nusa Lembongan, including tips and recommendations so that you have the most memorable diving experience during your vacation in Bali!
Where are Nusa Islands
Nusa Lembongan is one of the trios that make up the Nusa Islands, along with sister islands Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Even though the majority the dive resorts, hotels, and restaurants are located on Nusa Lembongan, most of the dive sites in the area are actually located around Nusa Penida.
The Nusa islands are located just a short 30-minute ferry ride to the east of Bali. If you plan to stay a few days on the island, you can take one of the many fast boats that run from Bali to Lembongan.
If you are on a tight holiday schedule, check the dive shops around Sanur for day trip options. The dive operators in Bali generally rotate other dive destinations such as Padang Bai, Amed, and Tulamben throughout the week. So make sure you inquire about Nusa Lembongan diving and the sites they plan to dive before booking.
About Diving in Nusa Lembongan
Lembongan Diving Season
Diving in Nusa Lembongan can be good year round, but December to March in Bali is the “rainy season,” which means the visibility can be murky compared to the rest of the year. And while this is not “the rule,” manta ray sightings tend to be less during this season as well.
The good news about the rainy season, however, is that it is also the slow season. Which means, there will be much less crowd to share the dive sites with!
If you are keen on seeing mola molas, note that the season is typically between July and September. As with any other marine animal, the sightings can never be guaranteed or predicted. There are often reports of mola mola encounters outside the peak season.
Dive Experience Level
Although the dive sites around the Nusa islands can be enjoyed by divers of all levels from Open Water divers to experienced divers, there are some dive sites (more to follow) that should be dived with extreme caution and ONLY by experienced divers.
Read more in the “currents” section below.
If you are a beginner diver, make sure you are honest about your experience and your comfort level. There are plenty of dive sites to go around for everybody!
If you are not yet certified but thinking of doing an Open Water Course, awesome! There are plenty of shallow reefs for you to learn scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan. Just be warned that once you learn how to dive in the Coral Triangle, you’ll be setting your standards pretty high after your certification.
The water temperatures around the Nusa islands vary significantly depending on factors such as season, time of the day, depth of dive, and dive location.
In general, the water temperature is between 27° – 29°C between November to May and 16° – 26°C between June to Oct (north coast of Penida tend to be warmer than the south).
Dive sites such as Crystal Bay and Blue Corner are particularly cold during the peak season of July to October – it can be anywhere between 16 to 19C. If you plan to dive these sites in search of mola molas, I highly recommend that you take an extra layer with you like a hooded vest.
Depth of Dive Sites
5m to >60m
20 – 30m during the dry season; 10 to 30m during the rainy season
The dives sites around Nusa Penida, in particular, are prone to unpredictable and powerful currents that can be traumatic to even the experienced divers. What makes some of the dive sites dangerous is the strong down-current that can drag divers down the wall.
Aside from the down-current, many dive sites around Penida are often prone to “washing machine” like conditions.
I highly recommend that you select a reputable operator to dive with (more on this below), listen to the dive site briefing, ask questions, and always dive behind and close to your dive guide.
Most of the surface conditions around the Nusa islands are calm to moderate. The route to Manta Point and Manta Bay, however, can sometimes be choppy and rough.
Also, whether you are at the surface or underwater, there can be a strong surge around Manta Point and Manta Bay. If you are snorkeling or diving at these sites, stay away from the cliffs particularly if the surface feels rough.
Nusa Lembongan Diving Prices
The prices vary from operator to operator, depending on factors such as a single dive vs. a dive package.
For a ballpark figure, you can generally expect to pay about IDR 550,000 to 600,000 per dive per person including equipment, tank, and weights if you are based on Nusa Lembongan.
Number of Dive Sites
Between 20-25 dive sites across the 3 Nusa islands (depending on who you ask ;-))
Popular Dive Sites
Crystal Bay is the famous dive site that attracts scuba divers from all over the world for the rare opportunity to see the mola molas during a short season between July to October.
Located on Nusa Penida, Crystal Bay sits across from Nusa Ceningan and can experience strong current passing through the channel. While some currents can be anticipated with the moon and the tide chart, Crystal Bay is unique in that currents can appear unexpectedly.
Although experiencing currents around Nusa Islands is considered normal, the danger factor at Crystal Bay is the down-current. The down-current can be so strong that I have heard of stories where masks and fins flew off of the divers, divers got blown out of the bay, or that divers even drowned. This dive site is not for the faint-hearted, and certainly not for inexperienced or beginner divers.
Manta Point/Manta Bay
These two destinations are popular for the manta ray encounters (in case the name didn’t give it away!). While the manta sightings are possible year-round, the best time to make a trip is during the high season between July and October. During these months, the water is clearer, and the weather is optimal for smooth sailing to the dive site.
The sea can often be choppy, however, on the way to south Nusa Penida – if you are prone to seasickness, I highly recommend that you take some Dramamine with you.
The dive site is suitable for all levels of divers – but stay away from the cliffs, as the surge can sometimes push you into the walls.
While the corals around south Penida are not as colorful or abundant as the north, you may get a chance to see blue spotted stingrays, turtles, nurse sharks, and Wobbegong sharks if you’re lucky!
This dive site is my favorite in all of Nusa area.
Toyapakeh is just so full of marine life. From the bommies and the slopes that are covered in vibrant soft and hard corals to the orchestra of reef fishes in the horizon, there is a beauty to be found at every fin kick.
The shallow reefs are just as stunning in fact that you can enjoy Toyapakeh from the surface as a snorkeler as well.
The two cautions I would mention here is that there is a ton of boat traffic in this corner of the island, so be very careful when ascending; and similar to Crystal Bay, there can be quite a strong down-current past 20m at this dive site – so stay close to your guide and stay close to the wall.
North Penida (SD, Pura Ped, Sental, Buyuk, Sampalan)
There are six popular dive sites on the north coast of Nusa Penida, which have similar underwater topography – they consist of sloping walls and hard coral bommies that make excellent habitats for creatures such as banded sea snakes, Hawksbill turtles, Marble rays, and reef tip sharks. There have also been reports of whale sharks and hammerhead sharks passing through here!
Sampalan is my favorite on this coast – during one dive with Blue Corner Dive Mushroom Bay, I saw the biggest schooling Batfish (about 30-40!), a handful of white tips sharks, and the biggest Marble ray that I had ever seen – it was so big that for a second, I thought it was a manta ray!
Mild to medium current can be found along this north coast, making it a great area to experience some drift dives.
Blue Corner is, similar to Crystal Bay, a popular site for the mola-mola encounters during the peak season. As the name suggests, it sits on the “corner” of Nusa Lembongan and can be prone to strong currents. But if the dive operator can get the timing right with the tides, you may be able to enjoy the classic Balinese landscape of “terraces,” except the underwater version!
This dive site is most appropriate for advanced divers, as the plateaus sit around 20 meters, and the wall drops off to 50+ meters. The rugged terrain at Blue Corner attracts bigger marine creatures such as Marble ray, Eagle ray, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Trevallies, and the Sunfish during the season.
I was lucky to witness my first hammerhead shark at this dive site!
How to Select a Dive Center
There are close to 30 Nusa Lembongan dive shops on one island alone, excluding others operating out of Nusa Ceningan or Nusa Penida.
Naturally, you may wonder, “who should I dive with?”
Take the time do a bit of research before choosing a dive center.
Because your life is on the line. Most scuba divers take safety for granted, but diving is a risky sport. There are so many factors that go into your safety such as quality of equipment rental, boat conditions, maintenance of compressors and tanks, and experience level of dive staff.
Read reviews and see if other guests felt comfortable, safe, and enjoyed their dive experiences.
Ask dive operators if they carry first aid and 100% Oxygen on all their boats, and (more importantly) if their staff is trained to use them. Ask how often they service the equipment, change the filters on their compressor system, and if they have an emergency action plan in place.
On my last trip, I dived with Blue Corner Dive Lembongan at Mushroom Bay and had a great time diving with Jo, Gede, and Wayan. We called Jo the “Hammerhead whisperer,” as we had consecutive hammerhead sightings in a week, any time Jo was in the water. And believe me, a hammerhead sighting is extremely rare when diving Nusa Lembongan!
Gede and Wayan were enthusiastic and great fun to dive with too. I spent 5 blissful days on Nusa Lembongan exploring the mesmerizing undewater world with the team at Blue Corner Dive Mushroom Bay, and when not in the water, enjoying the beautiful beaches on Lembongan island.
If you are not yet a scuba diver, not to worry!
Ask Jo about PADI courses. Jo is an experienced PADI instructor who has been working on the island for the last six years. Make sure you tell her Mo sent you!
Ready for some Nusa Lembongan diving?
Are you anxious to go diving in Lembongan island, yet?
I hope so! After diving in Nusa Lembongan you will certainly understand why this is one of the top diving destination in Bali.
If you have any questions about diving Nusa islands or have any tips to add to this post, please leave a comment below!
Happy Bubbles, my fellow mermaids!
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