Indonesia’s tropical waters are a haven for sea lovers. With blessed waves and spectacular marine life, it’s one of the best places in the world for snorkeling. Although the popular island of Bali is better known for its world-famous surf breaks and volatile currents, the northeast is the best place to explore Bali’s underwater worlds, and we’re here to show you why.
Famed for its dazzling volcanic sands and exceptional biodiversity, Amed is a real treat for first-time snorkelers and more experienced divers. There’s plenty to discover in these warm, shallow waters with healthy reefs, good visibility, and even shipwrecks.
Our guide takes a look at the seven best snorkeling spots in Amed for impressive coral vistas and marine diversity. You can expect vibrant reefs contrasting against the dark sandy seafloor, and you might even bump into some of Bali’s gentle ocean giants. So grab your goggles, and let’s get into it.
The largest and most notable beach in this province is, of course, Amed beach. Set to the backdrop of the majestic Mount Agung volcano, this is the best place to start for adventurous snorkeling and a first taste of Amed.
Where you enter makes all the difference when snorkeling here. The best spots at Amed beach are between Camessa Hotel and the Kembali Beach Bungalows. The current runs from east to west, so we recommend entering near Camessa in the Northeast and starting your snorkeling around 10 to 15 meters from the shoreline. Here, you’ll find large coral blocks which you can follow until the reef drops. If you’re lucky, you could even spot a few wild turtles around here.
Float with the current towards the Kembali Bungalows but keep an eye on your distance from the shore. As you come back into the beach, look out for the turtles that often peruse the shallows here.
Plan your snorkeling here for the morning, where visibility will be better, and think about bringing flip flops, or better yet, beaches shoes for the wade back into shore. Amed Beach has a mix of sparkling black sand and substantial sharp pebbles, which can be uncomfortable underfoot.
Lined with beach warungs and sun loungers and overlooked by the impressive cliff viewpoints above, Jemeluk Bay is one of the more picture-perfect beaches in Amed and perfect for water activities. The enclosed cove makes for safe snorkeling conditions, and azure water is clear and alluring.
The best snorkeling at Jemeluk is right below the cliff, where the reef drops off. Here, you can even find the mesmerizing underwater temple, or gallery as it is otherwise called, when the visibility is good enough. Made from living sea sculptures by several Indonesian artists, the underwater gallery is perfect for photography, so make sure to bring your Go-Pro along with you. There’s also a stunning Foliose coral garden beyond the temple, where whorl-liked growth patterns adorn the bright reef.
Remember never to step on corals when snorkeling! Corals are living organisms and very fragile. Their existence is already threatened all over the world by human interaction. Even touching corals will your hands can dramatically damage or even kill the ecosystems and reefs below the water. If you fear you’ll get tired, always bring a flotation device with you when snorkeling.
Lipah beach’s colossal table corals and hard coral patches make it one of the best snorkeling spots in Amed. Freely accessible from the shore, at the southern end of the bay, you’ll find an impressive free without having to venture too deep. Perfect for families.
You’ll even find impressive red sea fans here, jutting from the sand. They anchor to mud and sand, and their branches can reach up to eight inches.
Enter the sea by the Vienna Beach Resort and snorkel west. But watch out for debris. Unfortunately, Lipah Beach can become polluted during the high season, affecting visibility.
Selang Beach is great for beginners, and you’ll find a whole host of exotic fish and interesting coral formations at the untouched reef. Largely undisturbed by tourists, Selang is great for a tranquil snorkeling experience away from the crowds.
Book a night’s stay at Good Karma and enjoy the best visibility at the crack of dawn when the water is calm and clear. The half-moon shape of the bay means the currents are less intense, and the reef starts in very shallow water. Watch out for scratched knees on these corals, and bring a floaty to avoid stepping on the corals.
Amed’s Ibus Beach is a hidden gem of the northeast and the perfect place to stay in Bali for a tranquil snorkeling escape. The beach sees powdery white sand mix with fine black particles where the clear waters gently lap at the shore. Once you realize this isn’t an oil spill, the combination is dazzling and beautiful and brings out the vibrance of the corals.
The visibility is very good at Ibus with the weak current. Colorful hard corals are scattered everywhere, and the shallow waters mean it’s easy to spot the smallest of underwater creatures as you float along.
Check out the Stairway to Heaven Bungalows set just above the Lipah Beach. You can park here for free, and the relaxed restaurant atmosphere makes for a great place to grab a cool drink after an afternoon of snorkeling.
Adjacent to Mount Agung is the small village of Tulamben, just a 30-minutes drive north of Amed. The area is known for its scuba diving but is also a peaceful snorkeling location and a must-see if you’re into underwater exploring.
Running for around 150 m along the center of Tulamben beach is a shallow reef with an impressive coral garden at a depth of 3 to 12 m. You’ll find some of the most diverse marine life in Bali here among the vibrant reef. The warm waters invite a host of tropical fish, and you might even spot a sea snake. But keep your distance. They’re unlikely to approach humans but are often highly venomous!
There are several dive resorts here that will instruct on the best snorkeling spots. Head out in the morning for the best visibility and explore the underwater temple a few meters beyond the coral garden. Keep an eye on the water when enjoying your breakfast at one of the many beach restaurants after because dolphins have been known to leap through the shallows here.
Japanese Shipwreck, Tulamben Beach
Although also located on Tulamben Beach, this sight is a snorkeling attraction on its own and one of the best bucket list snorkeling spots you’ll find in Bali. Just a few meters from the beach in Tulamben is the famous 125 meter USS Liberty Shipwreck, a World War II cargo ship that was bombed by Japan and washed up on the shores.
Mountain Agung, which overshadows the beach resort town, erupted in 1963, and, as a result, lava flow pushed the wreck 5 meters back into the ocean, leaving it just submerged by the shallow waters. This makes Tulamben a popular dive spot, but the close wreck is just as easy to snorkel.
Enter from in front of the KawiKarma Beach Cottage, and although there are no signposts to the wreck, it’s easy to find, and floating around in search of it is part of the excitement. The wreck is small but impressive. Snorkeling a WWII heritage site that makes up an essential part of Bali’s volcanic heritage, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Make sure you bring beach shoes as the shoreline is rocky and the water remains shallow. But bring your underwater camera, too, as the colorful fish meandering through the wreck is a site you’ll want to remember.
Does Bali have good snorkeling?
Although better known for its wild waves and great surf, Bali has many impressive snorkeling spots with clear waters, gentle currents, and vibrant coral gardens.
Head to the east, northeast, and northwest of the island, where the ocean is calm, and the marine life is diverse. You’ll also find sparkling black sands that bring out the colors of the corals.
Amed is arguably the best region to snorkel on the island, where you can spot turtles, dolphins, and even sea snakes along the black sandy shore. Amed is also home to a number of shipwrecks, including the wreck of the USS Liberty Cargo Ship from WWII, which makes for a once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling experience.
Should I do scuba diving or snorkeling in Bali?
Both scuba diving and snorkeling are exciting ways to explore the underwater worlds of Bali’s coastline, and they’re easily accessible activities no matter where you go, depending on the season. But which is better? Snorkeling allows you to float from the surface at your own pace. Renting snorkel equipment or buying your own is incredibly cheap, and you can enter and escape the water quickly and safely as you please. You can snorkel anywhere you can swim, from very shallow shorelines to the depths of the ocean, and observe incredible marine life without a fuss.
On the other hand, scuba diving provides an incredible close-up underwater experience as you can move freely through the depths of the ocean and feel at one with marine life. It’s closest you’ll get to flying, and you’re made weightless in the blue without having to come up for breathers with the handy assistance of oxygen tanks. Scuba diving is mostly accessible in Bali and all of Indonesia’s islands, and it’s one of the best places to dive in the world. But you’ll need expensive equipment that you’ll likely have to hire, but not before you pass the required safety tests, get your certificates and fund your scuba experience.
You’ll surely see far more marine life when scuba diving and get the chance to explore the depths of Bali’s ocean floor. You’re far more likely to encounter sharks and manta rays on scuba diving excursions and usually shipwrecks. But with much of Bali’s marine life, coral reefs, and even wrecks being located close to the shore, you’re in a unique position in Bali to experience it all with just a snorkel mask and your own two feet.
Can you swim with sharks in Bali?
You can find around 200 different species of sharks in the water off Indonesia’s coastline, and you can spot many of these around Bali. It’s uncommon that you’ll encounter sharks when snorkeling in Bali’s shallow waters, but you can go on organized tours to dive and swim with some of Bali’s local ocean predators. It’s a unique ecotourism activity in Serangan Island in Southern Denpasar. Organized by the Serangan Shark Project, you can explore the purpose-built nursery pontoons and get up close with blacktip reef sharks that populate Bali’s waters. Blacktip reef sharks are one of many shark species in Bali that pose no threat to humans and are usually timid in nature.