Bali’s coral reef on Menjangan Island hosts some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Menjangan Island has been a marine preserve and protected by the Balinese government for a number of years. The island is also fairly isolated in that once you arrive at the airport you have to travel 4 to 6 hours by car to get to the resorts close to the island. This means their are few divers that explore this marvelous site that is rich with all types of marine species and you can also on special occasions come across large pelagic species such as the whale shark.
Menjangan Island Scuba Diving History
Menjangan Island, in the north-west of Bali, is where diving first really started on the island back in about 1978, under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy, when it arranged a get-together of the country’s main diving clubs – Possi, Ganesha, Nusantara & Triskati.
That lead to Menjangan Island establishing itself as the premier dive location in Bali and many of the attendees went on to become the pioneers of commercial dive operations across Indonesia. About a year later the Liberty wreck was explored for the first time since it had slipped down the slope at Tulamben in March 1963 and Menjangan Island was soon relegated to the background of Bali diving.
Menjangan Island is part of the 19,000 hectare West Bali (Bali Barat) National Park that was first established in 1982. However, the island was made a game reserve by the Balinese Council of Kings in 1950 and has been fairly well protected ever since. Both the relative difficulty of getting to the Menjangan Island from the normal tourist spots on Bali plus the fact that the site has been relatively protected since 1950 has resulted in a coral reef that is both vibrant and flourishing around the island. The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is also still a favorite dive site, but has a very high amount of diver traffic and the site has predictably shown quite a bit of wear and tear.
Getting to Menjangan Island
If you are in the Nusa Dua, Kuta or Sanur area it will normally take you around 3.5 hours assuming no bad “jams” as the locals refer to the often crowded conditions of the roads on Bali. It can take up to six hours if the roads and traffic do not cooperate. The best alternative is to stay at a local resort while diving on the north side of the island. The Matahari Beach Resort and Spa in Permuteran is one of my favorites and is located next to the Coral Project in Permuteran Bay. The hotel is definitely 4 to 5 stars and the largest of the resorts on this side of the island with excellent service, food and access to diving sites. I love the dive operator on the property, a Swiss German expat, who runs a very competent organization.
Getting to the Dive Sites
You can reach the dive sites via boats off the coast of Pemuteran Bay in front of the dive resorts or a boat from Banyuwedang Bay or perhaps the boat service run by the parks service. If you are staying at one of the resorts around Pemuteran Bay, taking the boat in front of your resort is the way to go. The boat trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and the seas are usually fairly flat as the area around Menjangan Island is fairly well protected.
Diving is great year round and even in the “rainy winter season” the visibility is normally quite clear. The island is not large and does not have much fresh water runoff that will impact visibility. There can be some current on various sites around the island so you may dive some of the sites as drift dives. Remember to listen to the instructions of your dive master and enjoy the dive.
Come preview the gallery, the pool is open…