Diving & Snorkeling in Padangbai


About Padangbai

Padangbai (Padang Bay) is a small beach town in the southeast of Bali, Indonesia, known for its sheltered port with boat services to Lombok and many small islands. There are fantastic diving and snorkeling sites just around this lovely, languid community including Bias Tugel (Secret Beach), Ferry Channel, Blue Lagoon or Baong Penyu (Turtle's Neck), Dropoff and Jepun.

This area offers astonishing visibility for macrophotography. The rays of the sun penetrate the water to a depth of almost 20 m (65 ft), assisting divers to capture that special shot of fishes, critters and coral they have been chasing since arriving at Bali.

Padangbai also doubles as a diving hub once you've had your fill of tropical reef fishes, coral and green turtles right in front of the beaches. There are ferries, boats and diving trips to some of the world's best adventure dive locations such as Gili Tepekong, Gili Mimpang, Gili Biaha, Kambing Island, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, all involving tricky currents and large pelagics.

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Best diving spot in Padangbai - Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon also known as Baong Penyu (Turtle's Neck) is a great place for snorkeling or beginner dives but also perfect for macrophotography and night dives or even better: macrophotography done on night dives! This is a sandy bay with soft coral and hard dome coral that is home to Napoleon wrasse, clownfishes, moray eels, pipefish, stonefish, green turtles, frogfish and a hundred other species. You can practice perfect buoyancy above the sandy bottom then have a relaxed dive among the bommies surrounded by an unbelievable cornucopia of tropical fish and invertebrates. You can choose your own safe depth at 5, 10 or 15 m (16, 32, 50 ft) and be mesmerized by the abundant marine life there. On night dives flutemouths and other fish may chase the light emanating from your torch and cuttlefish, octopuses and snails will go about their business. Snorkelers should keep inside the bay as there can be currents beyond the protected shallows.

Exploring the Underwater World

Colorful pipefish in Padangbai, Bali

You will find hundreds of tropical fish species, reef critters and dozens of coral types. Frogfish, crocodile fish, basslets, leaf scorpionfish, mantis shrimp, pygmy seahorses, coral catshark, cardinalfish, jackfish, pufferfish, vibrant nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, tubeworms, crabs, tuna teem around Pandangbai, often in shallow water, away from currents. When the water is a bit cooler in the dry season even Wobbegong sharks make an appearance.

Gonnadive travel tip

A less than two-hour bus or taxi trip will take you from Denpasar Airport or Kuta to relaxed Padangbai where you can set up residence for the next two days or even two weeks of diving and exploration. After your last daily dive and before you head out to the restaurants and bars, it's worth discovering Padangbai's temples, the oldest of which is Pura Silayukti, dating back to the 11th century.

Dive sites in Padangbai

If you stand at the port and face the sea then to your right there is Bias Tugel (Secret Beach) just around the headland. The Ferry Channel dive site is in front of you near the left hand side of the bay. There are four great dive sites around the headland on the left which is called Baong Penyu (Turtle's Neck): Tanjung Sari (closest), Blue Lagoon, The Wall / Dropoff and Jepun / Frangipani Temple (farthest).

  • Bias Tugel (Secret Beach) - A few minutes boat ride away from the port, you will see staghorn coral reefs in only 3 m (10 ft) of water. This area is superb for photography: lots of fish, shallow reefs, beautiful sandy beach in the background. Purple and blue plate corals, leather coral and brain coral provide a playground for all sorts of creatures like Christmas tree worms, butterflyfish and damsels. There is a reef wall at 24 m (80 ft) with potentially dangerous down currents. Experienced divers could start deep and swim up to the coral gardens. Beginner divers should stay around the shallow reefs. Unfortunately, the beach is near impossible to access from the land due to hotel development and steep slopes.
Small wreck in Jepun, Padangbai, Bali
  • Jepun / Frangipani Temple - after a 5 minutes boat ride from Padangbai a small temple is visible on a cliff off around 100 m (330 ft) height. In front of the cliff lies a great macrophotography site with lots of small critters, juvenile coral fishes and a coral garden in the shallow areas at 10 m (30 ft). There are artificial reefs at a depth of 18-20 m (60-65 ft) where crocodile fish, leaf scorpionfish and cuttlefish may be seen. Blue spotted stringrays frequent the reef and there is a small wreck at about 17 m (55 ft). On night dives some lucky divers may come face to face with the elusive Spanish dancer nudibranchs or even the rare and threatened coral catshark.
  • Tanjung Sari - A short boat ride from Padangbai beach, this is the southern end of the Blue Lagoon. Great site for a 2nd dive of the day. A gently sloping reef drops down from 5 m (16 ft) to 30 m (98 ft), featuring rocky boulders stocked with invertebrates among corals. Colorful tropical fish like lionfish, angelfish, groupers, ribbon eel, sweetlips abound. Stingrays and other types of rays, schools of mackerel swim by the divers. You may also encounter cuttlefish that are interested in divers and can be approached with slow, careful movements. Night dives may include chance meetings with whitetip reef sharks. Inflatable signal devices should be carried on this dive to warn the boat traffic at the harbor entrance. The best place to surface is around the rocky point away from Padangbai.
  • Wall / Dropoff - A reef wall separating the Blue Lagoon from Jepun bay, offering a vertical descent to 30 m (98 ft) with shrimp, sea urchins, scorpionfishes and feather stars appearing on each level of this habitat. Juvenile sharks and octopuses are known to hang around the wall.
  • Ferry Channel - Located in front of Padangbai beach, it takes two minutes to get there by boat. After a steep slope, depth bottoms out at around 15-18 m (50-60 ft) with a horizontal reef platform cut up by caves and crevices that serve as shelter for lobsters and whitetip reef sharks. There are nudibranchs all around the coral and moray eels a little bit deeper down. Turtles may greet you at the end of your dive around the shallower areas.

GonnaDive recommends in the neighborhood

Clownfish in Jepun, Padangbai, Bali

Toward northeast there are Amed and Tulamben, both magnets for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Southwest you will find the party central of Bali, Sanur and Nusa Dua with several convenient dive sites near big resorts. The boats in Padangbai harbor can transport you to incredible dive adventures around smaller islands like Gili Tepekong, Gili Mimpang, Gili Biaha, Kambing Island, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. If you are not in a great hurry to head home, go over to Lombok for a completely different island experience and another world of diving to be discovered.

Best Time for a Scuba Diving or a Snorkeling Vacation

All year round based on water temperature which is usually a balmy 26-29 °C (79-84 °F) but if you want the dive sites mainly to your group try the off-season months of April to July and October to November. Note that the water temperature can drop to 20 °C (68 °F) in the area sometimes necessitating a thick wetsuit.

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