These amazing sunken gardens and surprising underwater sights in Bali are often the highlight of many visitors' diving adventures. The waters off Bali offer much in terms of natural marine biodiversity, with sightings of some of the world’s most peculiar sea creatures, from ‘mola-mola’ oceanic sunfish to magnificent whale sharks. However, these great manmade attractions offer something unique and different for your next snorkelling or dive trips.
Some of these great Bali dive sites feature underwater sculptures such as temples and statues, which were carefully designed and built on dry land using materials that enable coral growth. After being carefully boated out and submerged at specific spots, the resulting ‘sunken gardens’ provide new playgrounds and reef ecosystems teeming with colourful tropical marine life. They’re great for out-of-this-world holiday photos, too! The map pointers below are approximate locations, but local diving companies will know exactly where to find them.
Karang Lestari Bio-Rock Reef ProjectPemuteran
The Bio-Rock Reef Project of the Karang Lestari Foundation is perhaps among the world’s most successful reef restoration efforts, outshining similar projects in the Pacific and Caribbean. These artificial reefs are off the shores of Pemuteran Bay in Bali’s northwest, which is home to the largest area of shallow coral reefs (measuring 2 hectares) thanks to year-round calm waves. It’s a marine protected area with over a dozen coral nurseries on sunken metal structures, which are fed with low electrical currents that help stimulate coral growth. Structures throughout the site include giant domes, blossoming lotuses, bicycles and statues of Buddha and Hindu deities. You can also ‘adopt’ a coral, and even have your name sculpted and sunk, to become a new home for fish. Read More...
Amed – better known among locals as Jemeluk Bay – is one of East Bali’s pioneering dive sites, renowned for its calm waters and amazing biodiversity that thrives along its coral walls. The dive site has a new highlight of manmade underwater galleries, comprising of sculptures from The Marine Foundation, a UK-based ‘eco art’ group, as well as several other environmental NGOs. Among the sculptures are the works of Indonesian artists Wayan Winten and Eddi Prabandono, ranging from a giant baby head, beautiful Apsara Hindu water nymphs, mermaids, treasure chests, a Balinese barong and many others in its unique series of ‘living sea sculptures’. A longstanding underwater feature here is a working mailbox. You can purchase waterproof postcards from local shops, then dive and find this box to post it in. Read More...
Underwater Buddhas and StupasCeningan Island
Ceningan – one of the three Nusa Islands just off Bali’s coast – features a remarkable underwater site filled with a 2.4-metre-tall Buddha surrounded by smaller statues and Buddhist temple stupas akin to Borobudur. Marine sport activity operator Bali Underwater Scooter is one that regularly takes guests to discover this spot, setting off on an early morning boat transfer from the port at Serangan towards the Ceningan channel, where it is located. You can also stumble upon this site on your regular snorkelling around the channel, as the water here is fairly shallow. Read More...
The dive site of Tulamben, off the coast of East Bali, is famous for the USS Liberty shipwreck from World War II. However, another large cargo vessel was deliberately sunk in 2011, just five minutes away from the Liberty, and has gradually attracted algae and coral growth, as well as divers. At an impressive 85-metre-long and just 25 metres underwater, it is an excellent choice for those new to wreck diving. The ship’s intact steering wheel is a favourite photo-op among free-divers, while a range of statues and a classic Volkswagen 181 are among the other weird items also sunk here, adding to the visual variety of this fun and optional dive site.
Suci Place Underwater StatuesTulamben
There’s a great diving reef right off the shores of the Matahari Tulamben Resort Dive & Spa and, in 2013, the resort created a new diving highlight consisting of curious artefacts, including Hindu gods and Buddha statues, at the depth of around 9 to 17 metres. Various other structures, such as temples, Buddhist stupas and a complete range of Hindu gods and goddesses have gradually been submerged at the site ever since, adding to the variety of the objects you can discover and ultimately pose with. They have served as a new home for plenty of tropical fish, and even mola-mola and eagle rays have also been sighted in the waters here.
Badung Underwater Cultural ParkNusa Dua
In 2012, the Nusa Dua Reef Foundation launched the Bali Underwater Cultural Park around 500 metres off the shores of Samuh Beach, just north of the Nusa Dua’s peninsula islands. Roughly in front of The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, the underwater park comprises a collection of 26 Bali culture-themed artificial reef sculptures at a depth of around 11 metres, such as Kecak dancers and the dance’s central characters, Rama and Shita, from the Hindu epic Ramayana. While it’s a little deep for snorkelers, they can easily view the site from the surface on clear days.
Deus Bio-rockGili Trawangan
Surfer, skater and petrol-head lifestyle brand Deus Ex Machina collaborated with The Marine Foundation to create this bio-rock feature off the coast of Gili Trawangan. It comprises a motorbike, in keeping with the brand’s custom culture, and which offers divers and snorkelers a totally rad underwater holiday photo op. You can call it a bike, a sculpture or a bio reef, or what the Deus guys like to call, bio-rock ‘n’ roll. The site is some 50 metres off the shore of the Café Gili, at a depth of around 6-7 metres.
NEST at Bask Gili MenoGili Meno
This new underwater sculpture park is currently in the planning stage, and is slated to open in 2019, right off the shore of Gili Meno. It will be one of the highlights of BASK Gili Meno, and will offer you a hauntingly beautiful place to dive, with 48 life-size sculptures of human figures in various poses. The sculptures are the works of Jason deCaires Taylor, whose underwater sculptures can be found in various dive sites around the world, including the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and even in the Thames, back in his home country of Great Britain.