Nusa Penida Dive Guide

Nusa Penida is a popular day trip destination for dive operators from Bali. Conditions are "challenging" here, with strong currents and cold (for the tropics) water. People are willing to put up with those less than ideal conditions for the chance to see a Mola Mola - the world's largest bony fish, and probably the funniest looking one as well.

Nusa Penida is the largest of three islands. The island closest to Bali, Lembongan, is a very popular day trip destination for people looking for good snorkeling and water sports opportunities. In recent years, some hotels and resorts have been built on Lembongan, but it doesn't appear that any of these have dive operators.

There are several sites around all three islands. I've highlighted three of the main areas that are the most popular with dive operators from Bali.

Nusa Penida Hotels

Nusa Penida and Lembongan used to be solely day-trip destinations, and by and large they still are. However, there are now a growing number of hotels and resorts on the islands. The search box below will help you find the best rates for hotels and resorts available during your stay

Penida Dive Sites

The strait between Lembongan, Ceningan and Nusa Penida islands is where most of the dive sites are located. The sites are basically just one continuous strip, with names given to some of the most common drop-off points. Below are descriptions of a few of them.

Manta Point

Manta Point at a Glance

Depth: 15 - 30 m
Currents: Heavy Swell
Season: July - Nov.

Manta Point is a dramatic setting, with a large limestone pinnacle jutting high up out of the water. Below the surface, there is little in the way of corals or other growths. The bottom is littered with large boulders sloughed off the limestone cliffs above. Although the current here is generally slight, there can be a heavy swell that can make the site very dangerous.

The main reason to dive here is, of course, to see mantas, although sightings are not guaranteed. In addition to the mantas, other large pelagics spotted here include tiger mackerel and tuna.

Penida Bay

Penida Bay at a Glance

Depth: 5 - 40 m
Currents: Strong
Season: July - Nov.

Also Called: Crystal Bay

Truth be told, Penida Bay is not the best dive site around Bali. But, it has one very redeeming feature: the chance to see Mola Molas. For this, divers are willing to drag out a thicker wet suit to cope with the chilly water and fight the strong currents in the hope of seeing this rare and elusive giant fish. There aren't any guarantees, though. On my dive there in season there wasn't a Mola Mola to be seen (although friends on a boat that got there earlier claim to have seen one, far off in the distance).

Without the attraction of the biggest bony fish, Penida Bay is a pretty dreary dive site. There aren't a lot of other fish about, nor are the corals all that interesting.

SD Dive Site

SD at a Glance

Depth: 15 - 30 m
Currents: Changeable
Season: July - Nov.

Also Called: Sekolah Desa

Along the northern shore of Nusa Penida is a continuous string of around five dive sites. All share the same general characteristics: A gentle slope of hard corals with occasional patches of bommies extended down as far as 50 meters. Currents can be strong, and frequently change direction. However, most dive operators will do these sites as drift dives, so you can generally "go with the flow" as long as you stay with the reef.

The Sekolah Desa site, more commonly referred to as just "S.D.", is the eastern-most of these sites. It gets it's name from the primary school that sits on the shore right at the entry or exit points (depending on which way the current is going).

There are not a lot of fish on the reef, but there is a chance you might see the elusive Mola Mola or some other large pelagic fish. Otherwise, you just relax and enjoy the ride.