The dive destination Candi Dasa
Candi Dasa is a small village we reach after an one hour drive from Tulamben.It is located directly at the sea and has some small beach areas. It has now adapted to tourism in Bali and there are many resorts and restaurants.
The small islands in front of the Candi Dasa make the area interesting for divers. These islands are located in the so-called “Lombok Strait.”It offers divers one of the best dive sites in Bali. The sites offer a healthy coral stock and plenty of fish. Topographically, this diving area offers highlights such as drop-offs, underwater canyons and a cave. In September, October and November, special conditions prevail on the islands, pushing cold water from the deep sea to the surface. Under these conditions, the chance of seeing a sunfish on the dives increases. Macro lovers get their money’s worth at the jetty. Strong currents occur around the islands. Therefore, these places are suitable for experienced divers.
Gili Tepekong is the biggest island we reach by a boat from Candi Dasa. The boat trip does not take longer than 15 minutes. The entry is directly from the boat. The island is big enough and offers various entry points and routes. The dives are depending on currents which can be strong around the island.
The entry usually takes place on the east or west side of the island. Both sides offer a nice coral growth and lots of tropical fish. There are coral reefs and rock formations to admire.The typical tropical riff inhabitants like the angelfish, fusiliers or soldier fishes can be found here as well as octopuses or sepia’s. Tepekong is known for its Mola sightings. Especially between July and October the chances are not bad to admire one of these sunfish at this place.
First we try to dive to the south side of the island. There, the dive site offers topographic highlights such as a wall, a canyon and a tunnel to dive through. More fish is also to see due the currents. In strong currents diving can be exhausting here. In this case, we head north. Here we find in the shallow area from twelve meters large broken rocks creating a fantastic underwater world. The many rock crevices and small caves provide shelter for many fish and occasionally reef sharks pass by. Tepekong is reserved for experienced divers due to the partial strong currents and big waves.
Three small islands mark the spot called Mimpang in the Amuk Bay by Candi Dasa. This small island is on the way to Gili Tepekong, and we reach the place by boat in ten minutes’ drive. The waters in this area are shallower than the deep Lombok Strait and we see the first corals from the boat as we drive to the island.
We start the dive with a free descent down to 20 meters. On sandy ground with slight coral growth, we slowly dive deeper to our planed depth. At this point it is possible to see one of the popular sunfish during the whole dive. The chance is greater in the so-called cold water season between July and October. Reef sharks are often at this dive site. After a while we reach the reef of the outer island which offers healthy corals and many fish schools.
This reef slowly transforms into a wall that drops down to 50 meters. At good conditions, we dive around this wall and finish the dive between the two islands. In the shallow area there are large coral blocks with a height of four to five meters to discover. Large and healthy table corals can be found here. At good conditions, this area is reminiscent of a large aquarium. With luck a turtle wave “Good Bye” during the safety stop. For beginners, this site is not suitable because the strong currents require some dive experience.
Gili Biaha is a 20-minute boat ride away from Candi Dasa. From above, this little island looks like a banana. The entrances at Gili Biaha challenge the skills of the divers. Big waves and strong currents are common here and require a professional dive plan.
A wall down to 40 meters depth can already be seen in the shallow water. During heavy weather we feel the swell of the waves down there. The wall is beautifully overgrown and red tooth triggerfish accompany us throughout the dive. A special type of snail, which scores with its strong colors, inhabits the steep wall. With a lot of luck, the popular sunfish will swim by at this dive site. Strong currents cause turbulence on the corners of the island and we keep a respectful distance.
In the middle of this bay is a cave. The entrance is large and located between six meters and 15 meters deep. A strong swell makes reaching the entrance challenging. Inside the cave we feel no movement of water but the changing pressure caused by the waves. Divers with equalizing problems should not dive into the cave. We often meet reef sharks looking for rest there. Slowly and quietly, we approach these fantastic animals easily without scaring them away. The view from the cave into the blue is fascinating.
A plateau between eight meters and 14 meters offers us many different corals at the end of the dive. Good skills of buoyancy are important here to balance the wave motion. Gili Biaha is one of our favorites in Bali but is not suitable for beginners.
A big unused bridge close to Padang Bay offers us a macro dive side which is one of the best in Bali. We will go to this site by boat from Candi Dasa in 20 minutes.
The dive takes place mainly under this bridge. The bridge piers are now nicely overgrown with corals and provide a home to many fish. The soil is sandy and there is a lot of filth, like old tires, which serve as a shelter for many underwater creatures. Here we find Angelfishes, Flying Gurnards, Scorpion Fishes, Ghostpipes Fishes, Mimics, Sepias, Rhinopias and much more. Another highlight is the school of mackerel that cross between the bridge piers.
The dive begins at the end of the bridge at a depth of 18 meters. Big rocks provide shelter for large octopuses here.We slowly dive from bridge pier to bridge pier and explore the entire place. The shallow depths are a guarantee for a long dive without boredom. Especially photographers get their money’s worth here. The sandy bottom offers enough space to position yourself for the perfect photo.