Padang Bai has a range of dive sites from entry level to advanced. Padang Bai is also the main ferry terminal for boats leaving Bali to Lombok, Nusa Penida and the Gili Islands, and there are a handful of dive sites just North and South of the main ferry dock,
Padang Bai is located on the east coast of Bali, 40 km (25 miles) from the capital city of Denpasar. Padang Bai is located at the edge of the Lombok Strait and is an area known for high current. The Lombok Strait is an important channel for water flowing from the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean, and explorers looking for some off the beaten path diving are recommended to go with a local guide.
If you are looking to dive with big fish the small Island of Nusa Penida lies in the center of the Lombok Straight, and is a popular dive destination famous for its Mola Mola and Manta Ray cleaning stations.
Choose to dive early in the day before the wind and waves pick up. Also the currents here can be particularly tough so pay attention to your depths at all times, especially on the edge of a reef wall. If you’ve even tried to swim against a current, especially with camera gear or scuba equipment, you know there is no fighting it. Your best bet is to always plan your dive with the current, get in the flow and enjoy the ride.
You will need to hire a boat or plan your boat dive with a dive center in Bali. The dive sites are close to shore but they stretch out along the rocky coast, making shore dive exit and entry impossible.
One of our favorite dives in Bali was the Old Pier at Padang Bai. As you pull up there are fishermen on top and at the end of the pier so you will want to avoid entering under someones fishing line and do not venture pass the end of the pier. The pilings were covered in which was covered in soft corals, and cute little schools of puffer fish, we even found two mantis shrimp and a curious octopus.
Between the old and new piers there is a sloping reef. Halimeda algae dominates the northern end, followed by a coral rehabilitation project covered in crinoid, feather stars. Further south towards the main ferry terminal is the coral garden site, which has a nice sandy bottom leading to a dropoff wall from 10m-25m (32-82 feet).
We dove to the bottom of the wall and found lots of beautiful flasher wrasse, a ‘walking dendr’ corals, plating Acropora efflorescens, and big colonies of Euphyllia corals, our guide even pointed out a beautiful red cynarina.
Along the edge of the wall we started to feel the currents pick up. After being warned about the strong currents in the area, and hearing stories about down flow currents flowing over the tops of walls, we made sure to stay close to the reef and safely end the dive swimming up and over the reef to 5m (15feet).