What better place in the world to get your scuba diving certification than in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago consisting of thousands of islands? With over 18,000 islands, 20% of the world’s coral reefs, over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species (which is about 7 times as many as in the entire Caribbean!), we can’t think of any other place in the world with more spectacular scuba diving than Indonesia’s underwater wonderland. So if you are thinking of doing your (Padi) diving course, better do it right. With an attractive list of best scuba diving locations, Indonesia is the place to go for your underwater adventures!
The underwater world of Indonesia
Last week we visited a local dive school to test a scuba diving course, where we were told many impressive geographical facts and figures about Indonesia that blew us away. Afterwards, the dive master told us that he could see little clouds forming above our heads with visions of us floating beneath the surface being part of this magic underwater world and he never experienced a group so eager to get in the water!
Indonesia’s 80,000 kilometers (50,000 miles) of coastline are surrounded by three tropical seas – the South China Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean – that contribute to the world’s second highest biodiversity. These seas are located in the Coral Triangle Region, also called the “Amazon of the seas”, which is home to over 3,000 different species of fish including some of the largest fish in the world (such as the whale shark, the coelacanth and mola mola or ocean sunfish) and six out of the seven marine turtle species in the world.
The abundance of sea life in Indonesian waters exceeds every diver’s dream and the possibilities for diving in Indonesia are endless. Another great side issue is that diving in Indonesia is very affordable. With a few dive-fanatics in our team, we tested several dive sites and created the Top 10 Best spots to get your Scuba Diving Certification in Indonesia.
Diving in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida – Bali
A group of three islands close to Bali famous for their underwater wonderland are Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. In the often startlingly clear waters live at least 247 species of coral and 562 species of reef fish, including the special mola-mola or ocean sunfish, the heaviest known bony fish in the world. Although diving is possible here all year round, the mola-mola normally waits here for you from July to October. We can guarantee not many people at home will have had the experience to encounter a mola-mola themselves and combined with a dive at Manta Point, where manta rays fly by all year round, you will certainly blow most (experienced) diving friends away!
Diving in Padangbai – Bali
With the bluest waters of Bali, the Blue Lagoon certainly lives up to its name. Padangbai offers a real treasure-trove of marine life, with sloping corals to the right, beautiful wall diving to the left and good visibility this is a perfect spot to do your introductory diving trip, though also experienced divers and photographers love this dive site. And after your – possibly first – dive experience Padanbai offers several cafes to wind down with a drink talking about the puffer fish, sea horses, pipe fish and possibly even a shark or manta ray that you encountered in this magic underwater world.
Diving in Amed – Bali
In East Bali, diving is offered in Amed on the edge of the Lombok channel. From here, divers will often be brought to their dive site by “Jukung”, a traditional fishing boat that the fisherman use in the morning to catch your fresh fish for dinner, all very efficient. The dramatic, sheer wall you will dive along covered in hard and soft corals with an abundance of marine life creates excellent diving opportunities. Diverse dive packages are offered here, like an introductory dive course for beginners at Amed reef. And one of our very favorite diving experiences in the waters of Indonesia – though in a different category – is a 2-day freediving and yoga course that will teach you the first steps in the silent world of breath-hold diving and develop a yoga routine and aquatic ability. This might well become the next step in your diving-career!
Diving in Tulamben – Bali
Tulamben is a village by the sea in North East Bali with black sand from volcanic Mount Agung and offers hot water that attracts lots of fish. In this underwater paradise you might experience your first encounter with a barracuda protecting “his” shipwreck the USAT Liberty. This 120 meter long shipwreck is 6 to 28 meters from the sea surface with water temperatures between 27 and 30 degrees Celsius, a great dive site for cold-blooded divers. We enjoyed diving here with beginners doing their introduction dive experiencing their first underwater breath at this shipwreck, quite a unique chance!
Diving in the Gili Islands – Lombok
Just off the coast of Lombok you’ll find an archipelago of three small islands, the Gili Islands. This location is a popular dive site due to its white sandy beaches, attractive marine life and colorful coral formations. A variation of dive sites with names such as Shark Point and Manta Point will already make your heart beat faster, but there are many other sites where you will almost certainly meet Mr. Turtle, Nemo or Sebastian the crab.
Doing your Open Water Dive Course on the Gili Islands, you will not only enjoy spectacular diving, most possibly you will also meet other travelers hanging out in the bars on the islands.
Diving in Senggigi – Lombok
This upcoming diving destination on the island of Lombok is a great place to get your Discover Scuba Diving experience or do a Padi Open Water Diving course. A great opportunity to get off your perfectly white beach for a day and find out what scuba diving does for you. But be careful, from experience we can tell you that it can be addictive!
Or if you really want to do it right, sign up for a luxury diving package for your Open Water course combined with a 3-day retreat in luxurious villa domes made of natural materials with an environment-conscious approach.
Diving in Komodo National Park
To us, the opportunity to be able to dive in a national park felt even more special than “just” diving in other waters. Komodo National Park is one of these special places where you find opportunities to discover scuba diving. Seeing dolphins, sharks, eagle rays and pygmy seahorses on your very first dive will spoil any future diving, but give us one single reason for saying no to an opportunity like this when already in Indonesia?
Diving in Kalimantan – Borneo
If you want to go diving in Borneo, the Indonesian part is the island of Kalimantan is famous for its impressive manta rays and Jelly Fish lake, a lake filled with thousands of jelly fish that are harmless to humans and therefore creates a unique diving experience! Though your natural reaction is to avoid these transparent creatures, after a while you might feel a little hypnotized by their beautiful movements in the water and possibly you’ll realize you even feel like hugging them!
Diving in Lembeh Strait – Sulawesi
There are many places in Indonesia that claim to be the best – and most of them are in one way or another – but learning how to dive in the Lembeh Strait will certainly create an everlasting memory. If you feel like a fish (with a tank on its back) in the water straight after your discovery scuba dive, you might be able to not only focus on breathing and buoyancy during your course, but also enjoy the incredible marine life here. We found more shy critters here than usual, like the mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish and harlequin shrimp than on any other dive. Lembeh Strait has a reputation that is hard to beat, as a dive spot with easy and convenient access to exceptional diving opportunities.
Diving in Bunaken – Sulawesi
Another National Marine Park with unique diving possibilities for every level is Bunaken where you will be surrounded by marine biodiversity that is the envy of the world. Thanks to perfect water quality, visibility often reaches over 30 meters. So with names as “the wall diving capital of the world” and “the King of muck-diving”, this dive site is another one on our list of best dive spots in Indonesia.
Travel to Indonesia
There are plenty of reasons to travel to Indonesia. The dense rainforests hide birds, tigers, orangutans, elephants, leopards and much more. The people of Indonesia are as friendly as you might never have experienced before. The rich culture is visible all around the many islands. And the food is a whole other topic we can write a book about (and probably will)!
But for us the main reason for traveling here is Indonesia’s most appealing blue waters and its magic underwater world that makes for the best scuba diving in the world. With such a colorful and diverse marine life, countless diving sites to choose from and numerous options to do your (Padi) diving course, you will feel like a fish in the waters of Indonesia!
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