What It’s Like to Dive in Indonesia Right Now
A diver fins below a swarm of Black Jacks at the USS Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali.
It's hard to top Indonesia: Warm water, diverse marine life, more than 600 species of rainbow-hued coral. Add sites for divers of all levels and you can see why this Southeast Asian destination is endlessly popular. Since tourism restarted in late October, dive shops throughout the archipelago have geared up and are ready dive down once again!
Indonesia’s International Traveler Requirements
As of early March, travelers need the following to enter Indonesia, where they will have to quarantine upon arrival:
- A Visitor Visa
- At least one COVID shot
- A negative PCR COVID test from the 48 hours before the flight
- The government health app, PeduliLindungi, installed on their phone
- Proof of travel health insurance covering COVID worth at least $25,000
- Pre-booked lodging
Visa on Arrival services are still suspended. Tourists need to obtain a Visitor Visa before arriving, which requires an in-country sponsor (this can be an individual or company). These visas can be obtained through Indonesian Immigration’s e-portal or with the help of a tourism operator.
The more COVID shots you have received, the shorter your quarantine is. Fully vaccinated travelers with a booster vaccine have to quarantine for two nights. Visitors with two shots are subject to a five-day quarantine and a seven-day quarantine is required for single-shot tourists. A PCR test will be administered on the last day of quarantine.
Moving between islands requires a Rapid Antigen Test taken within 24 hours of travel or a PCR test taken within 48 hours.
Expect a temperature check before entering any restaurant or supermarket and a vaccination check for busier places like shopping centers. Masks are required in all public places, including on dive boats and in shops.
What It’s Like to Dive Right Now
Now is a great time to dive Indonesia. Marine life has returned with a flourish, dive shops are offering brilliant discounts on trips and courses, and you'll often be the only boat at a particular dive site at any one time.
Here’s my view from diving Indo over the last five months.
The Nusa Islands and Mainland Bali
The Nusas are also known for almost-guaranteed manta ray sightings, and I’ve spotted them every dive here. Their cooler water and crystal-clear visibility also mean high likelihood of spotting big creatures. And, on my first dive of the day with Divescape Indonesia, I was in luck: we spotted a mola-mola at Crystal Bay within 15 minutes.
This beautiful dive site is usually crowded with dive boats but, on this day, we had the diverse coral and rainbow schools of fish to ourselves. The north of the Nusa Islands, around Nusa Penida, is renowned for its drift dives along rich coral plateaus where soaring turtles, barracudas, and white-tip sharks joined us for a ride.
Over on mainland Bali, many divers head to Amed and Tulamben on the east coast for brilliant muck diving and the famous Japanese Wreck and USAT Liberty shipwreck. Consistent trips to Amed have run consistent trips throughout most of the pandemic. In the northwest, you'll find Menjangan Island, famous for Bali's most beautiful wall-diving and easy conditions. Menjangan takes a little more coordination to visit but while marine life is flourishing.
Lombok and the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands, two hours via speedboat from Bali, are famous for huge Green and Hawksbill turtle populations. It's almost impossible to dive around here without seeing at least one turtle while you're enjoying the colorful shallows of Halik or the reef sharks, garden eels, and sea fans down at Deep Turbo. Venture over towards Lombok to Simon's Reef (my personal favorite dive site) for lionfish, scorpion fish and unique coral species.
Red soldierfish swim through an Indo reef.
The water is perpetually warm on the Gilis, regularly hitting 86°F. And the tiny size of the islands makes diving here super easy to organize, with beachfront dive shops dotted along the main street. You’re never more than a 20-minute cycle from any form of accommodation.
Boats here still go out most days from shops like Trawangan Dive Center and Gili Divers, and the lower-than-normal tourist traffic makes this a great opportunity for one-to-one course guidance. I was the only student taking my Nitrox and Sidemount courses, which meant it could be structured around my preferences, including dives at tech-dive-favorite, Tunang Wall.
Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park
Only an hour's flight from Bali, Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a mecca for thrilling drift dives, vibrant coral reefs and encounters with larger-than-life manta rays, reef sharks, and turtles.
Strong currents and varied topography ensured none of my dives in Komodo were ever the same. Deep walls, pinnacles, schools of thousand-strong fish and rocky reefs provided a technicolor backdrop that verged on overwhelming.
Many divers visiting Komodo National Park choose liveaboards in order to experience the unique offerings of North, Center and South reaches of the park. I spent a few days with Scuba Junkie Komodo taking in the brightly colored corals of Batu Bolong, the exhilarating "fish motorway" Siaba Kecil and, of course, the wonders of Manta Point. Based inside the national park, this was a brilliant, remote midpoint with easy access throughout the park during my stay.
Coordinating dives from individual shops is a little trickier here at the moment, with shops clubbing together to send out a single boat once or twice a week. But schedule your trip correctly and you’ll have an unforgettable experience.