One of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands and unquestionably its most popular, Bali has been drawing in throngs of tourist for years. Bali’s exotic mix of spectacular beaches/dive sites, scenic volcanic mountains/rice terraces, alluring temples and friendly populace ensures that it is highly rated in any traveller’s wish list.
If you’re planning a scuba diving trip in Bali and want to know what to expect, then you’ve come to the right blog! Here, we’ve summarised the perfect 5-days Bali adventure (3-days scuba diving + 1-day sight-seeing) that we’ve had in Oct-2016. You can surely draw some ideas and inspiration from this blog!
Bali: Island of the Gods
Lying along the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, Bali is tucked between the Indonesian islands of Java (capital Jakarta) and Lombok. Home to approximately 4 million people, Bali is a relatively large island, approximately 153km (east-west) by 112km (north-south). Its provincial capital and main international airport is Denpasar in southern Bali.
Seen as a tropical paradise by many, Bali is Indonesia’s biggest tourist draw. Almost 80% of all foreign visitors to Indonesia solely visit Bali. Unfortunately, this same reputation has at times attracted the wrong attention, as seen with the dreadful terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005. Though Bali has amazingly recovered much of its vibe since the attacks.
Many visitors to Bali stay in the southern seaside resort towns of Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua. Mainly due to the towns’ fine beaches and proximity to the airport. Consequently, these areas have a high density of entertainment, accommodation and F&B establishments.
Being near to the equator, Bali experiences a tropical climate all year-round; warm (~30°C) and humid (~85%). Though there two main seasons (Dry: May to October, Rain: November to April), these are not distinct and the weather on any given period can be very unpredictable. For those indulging in sea-based activities, the sea temperature is about 25°C-30°C, excellent for most activities. For scuba diving, 3mm wet suits would suffice.
3-Days Scuba Diving in Bali with Crystal Divers
For our Oct-2016 scuba diving trip in Bali, we booked a package with the great folks at Crystal Divers**.
Crystal Divers is one of the most established and popular dive operators in Bali. They are located in Sanur, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Denpasar airport. Other than their scuba diving business, the company operates a basic “hotel” onsite, complete with a small pool, which doubles up as a training pool for their dive courses.
Before the trip, we liaised with the Crystal Divers team to plan for a 3-days scuba diving package. We specifically asked for a dive at the USAT Liberty shipwreck at Tulamben (northern Bali).
The USAT Liberty is a WW2 US military cargo ship that was sunk by Japanese submarines in Jan-1942. It is the most famous shipwreck diving site in Bali and is a stone throw off the beach in Tulamben in depth of ~15-30 metres.
Below is the list of dive sites (in chronological sequence) that we’ve explored during the 3-days. (Click on the links for Crystal Divers’ write-up on each dive site)
- Drop Off: Beautiful and deep drop off wall
- USAT Liberty shipwreck (2dives)
Day#2 | Nusa Penida (map)
- Manta Point: Cleaning station for giant mantas.
- Toya Pakeh
- Sanur Channel
Day#3 | Candi Dasa (map)
- Gili Tepekong
- Gili Mimpang
Below is the VLOG of our scuba diving trip in Bali.
Crystal Divers Review
Our selection of Crystal Divers was based upon a recommendation from a scuba diving friend. In fact, during our trip, a fellow diver from UK commented that he was recommended to Crystal Divers by a dive shop all the way back in the UK!
True to their repute, everything on our dive trips were well organised and professional. The team (from the admin folks to the dive masters/instructors) was extremely knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. Their rental equipment was also in good condition. From a scuba diving perspective, everything was excellent! Period!
From an accommodation perspective, however, we do feel that there are definitely “rooms for improvement”. (Sorry for the pun!) As mentioned, Crystal Divers operate a basic “hotel” onsite (Hotel Santai). We stayed there for the entirety of our trip and was unfortunate to face some problems with the room (e.g. faulty A/C, no hot shower, faulty toilet bowl). Though it must be said that the hotel staffs did show urgency in trying to fix the problems when they were informed of it. Indeed, when the room problems proved to be too much, they promptly offered to switch us to another larger room.
To conclude, it was definitely an excellent trip and we do hope to dive with Crystal Divers in the near future. Though we’ll probably be considering other accommodation options nearby.
**Note: We are not in any way affiliated nor have any agreement with the companies mentioned herein. All comments herein are based on our genuine opinion.
1-Day Bali sightseeing
As we have a full day available before our return flight to Singapore, we naturally wanted to explore some of the island’s famed attractions.
Most of Bali’s tourist attractions are scattered throughout the island. However, given our limited time, we logically wanted a region that has a good cluster of attractions.
Ubud: Cultural Center of Bali
Looking at the map, Ubud (in central Bali) seems a good choice. An hour’s drive from both Sanur and Denpasar (airport), Ubud is the cultural center of Bali. The small town has a high density of shops/markets dealing in Balinese craftwork. It is also home/near to a number of renowned restaurants and tourist attractions.
Having decided on the region to visit, we needed to decide on the mode of transport.
Getting around Bali
After a brief research, it was clear that there are two main options available to us. We could either rent a car and self-drive, or we could hire a car with a driver. The rental cost of a car (24-hours, no driver) would be ~USD40-50 (we can’t remember the exact quote, but USD40-50 shouldn’t be too off the mark). While the cost of an 8-hours car hire + driver would be ~USD60. Both could be arranged at any local tour agent.
After some deliberation, we opted for the car + driver option. Consideration being that it would free us from the headache of planning the routes and more importantly, from the stress of the dreadful traffic jams so frequent in Bali. In fact, this is also the preferred mode of transport for most tourist visiting Bali.
There are plenty of tour agents around the main tourist towns. One should approach a few to enquire about the prices for comparison. Having said, we found most of the tour agents giving similar quotations.
We ended up booking a car + driver (8-hours) for ~USD60 the evening before. On the morning of the day-trip, the driver arrived at our hotel as agreed. Once on board, he promptly whipped out a picture folder containing images of the major tourist attractions in Bali. We simply pointed to the various attractions we wanted to visit and off we go. Simple!
Below is the list of attractions we visit during the day-trip (in chronological sequence).
Monkey Forest (Ubud)
One of the most popular tourist attraction in Bali. Monkey Forest is a fenced-up park in the village of Padangtegal, Ubud. It is home to ~700 monkeys which roam the park freely. Visitors could buy bananas to feed the monkeys. Do be cautious and do not agitate or get too close to the monkeys as they can be unpredictable. They are known to climb onto visitors or snatch items from them. Entry fee is IDR 40,000 (adult) and IDR 30,000 (child).
Ibu Oka Warung Babi Guling (Ubud)
[Warung = small family-owned restaurant. Babi guling = roast suckling pig]
Babi guling is one of Bali’s most famed cuisine and Ibu Oka is widely recognised as one of the best babi guling restaurant in Bali. Centrally located in Ubud town, Ibu Oka is a major tourist attraction in itself. Set meals are reasonably priced from IDR 50,000-70,000. Without doubt the best dining option in Ubud.
Puri Saren Palace (Ubud)
Also known as Ubud Palace, this is the residence of the former royal family of Ubud. Only a very small section of the palace is open to public. Located on the main street of Ubud, it is a 5 minutes’ walk from Ibu Oka, and directly across the street from Ubud Arts Market. Free entry.
Ubud Arts Market (Ubud)
The largest craftwork market in Ubud, the Ubud Arts Market occupies a few side-alleys in the heart of Ubud’s town. Just opposite Puri Saren Palace. Numerous stalls selling all sorts of craftwork and souvenirs. Items are not tagged and massive bargaining is required; we bought an item discounted by 80% after some friendly bargaining. Bargain only if you’re intending to get the item and do show basic courtesy at all times. Open 8am to 6pm.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace (Tegalalang)
Another famed attraction in Bali, the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a scenic spot located near Ubud. Its postcard-worthy rice terraces have been drawing so much visitors that many restaurants and cafes have popped up on the hill across the rice terrace, offering visitors a chance to enjoy meals/refreshments with unblocked views of the rice terraces. Definitely a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee while enjoying the scenery and cool weather. It doesn’t appear to have an official entrance, though certain strategically located locals will collect a small entry fee of ~IDR 10,000.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu (Tegalalang)
Gunung Kawi is a series of 11th-century temple and funeral complexes in the town of Tampaksiring, central Bali (near to Ubud). Specifically, Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a temple located in the Sebatu village. Gunung Kawi Sebatu is often confused with a more well-known nearby temple, which is simply known as “Gunung Kawi”.
Though less famous, Gunung Kawi Sebatu is nevertheless a beautiful and tranquil temple with lovely grounds and mesmerising sculptures. In order to enter the temple grounds, visitors are required to put on traditional Balinese sarongs (sashes) around the waist. These are provided for free at the ticket booth of the temple. Entry fee is IDR 15,000 (adult) and IDR 7,500 (child).
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