Menjangan island is Bali’s prettiest scuba diving and snorkelling location – pristine reefs, aqua blue waters and lots of marine life make it worth the effort to get there
Fan bommie with cloud of anthias, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
While Bali has a lot of excellent diving, Menjangan island wins the prize for being the most picturesque of them all. Located at the north west tip of Bali, it’s a bit of a slog to get there, but the reefs make it all worth it. It’s not just for divers either – some of the reefs are shallow enough and the water clear enough for snorkelers to have a fabulous experience too.
Reef at Eel Garden, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Menjangan island is near to the coastal town of Pemuteran which has the usual collection of resorts, restaurants, dive shops and warungs gathered around the black sand crescent of Pemuteran Bay.
Fusiliers running over reef, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Diving at Menjangan Island and Pemuteran
There’s some interesting macro diving in Pemuteran Bay itself, a house reef, some sunken statues to make an artificial reef and the Biorock coral growth structures, but for our trip we dived solely at Menjangan over four days. The conditions were so good when we were there we didn’t want to miss out, especially once our guides Komang and Ari introduced us to what they thought Menjangan’s best dive site – Eel Garden. Holy moley were they right.
Bommie with barrel sponge at top, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Eel garden is a big dive site – even after several dives it doesn’t feel like you’ve exhausted its possibilities. It begins with a long wall that runs up into a coral garden at around 10 metres.
Pooky and the octopus, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
The wall abruptly falls away into a white sandy channel which is the eponymous eel garden. Either side of the channel are lots of corals too, and when the current is running, big schools of fish start running over the top of the reef – it is mesmerising watching them stream through the sunlight poring down from the surface.
Rocky shallows, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
The corals around the channel are fantastic too – clouds of glass fish and lots of the usual tropical denizens like banner fish, angelfish and anthias all out in force. The reef is not only spectacularly pretty but also bustling with life – every dive here, often back at the exact same spot, was fascinating.
Turtle at Coral Garden, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
We dived some of Menjangan’s other sites – Bat Cave, Coral Garden and Dream Wall, which were all very pretty as well, but the dynamism of Eel Garden kept us going back – it just felt like you didn’t know what was going to happen next.
Hard coral, glassfish and jacks, Eel Garden, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Time To Dive Menjangan Island
We had a lot of luck with the weather too. Bali was at the tail end of experiencing a months-long drought when we visited – which meant there had been no rains to wash litter into the ocean, which I remembered being an issue when I’d visited Menjangan and Pemuteran previously. The rain began a couple of days after we left.
Triggerfish over reef, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Bali’s wet season typically runs November to February, but the beginning and end are unpredictable these days.
The other thing is that the visibility was superb. Peering off the boat you could always see the bottom, and in the water it was always a good 20 to 30 metres.
Barrel sponge bommie, Eel Garden, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
October to November is widely considered the very best time to dive Menjangan for the best chance of this great viz. But the great thing is Menjangan is divable all year round as many of the sites are sheltered.
Red, pink and orange fans, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Despite the conditions being perfect – cloudless skies, endless sunshine, flat calm seas – we were often the only dive boat on each dive site. We only saw other groups of divers on a couple of occasions.
Menjangan is relatively easy diving if, as ever, you’re with a dive guide that knows how to read the tides and currents. Our dive group had a wide range of experience levels, from beginner to grizzly veteran, and everyone was comfortable in the water as the dives were well planned.
Boat overhead a fan, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Dives A Day
Practically we did two dives a day, leaving direct from Pemuteran Bay in a modern fibre glass boat with twin outboards belonging to Abyss Ocean Divers. The boat comfortably fitted five divers and three staff, with room for at least another 3 or 4 divers. This was a definite upgrade from diving off the big longtails that are the default dive boat here.
Ayesha and big fan, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Surface interval was on the boat, although we did go onto Menjangan island itself a couple of times which didn’t have a lot to offer besides some basic salas for shade and even more basic toilets. Nice for drone shots though. From Pemuteran beach to the dive sites was 35 to 45 minutes depending on current and wind, we typically left at 8.30 am and were back by about 1.45 – 2pm. Third dives were available either by staying out on the boat or diving in Pemuteran Bay.
Whip coral, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Menjangan Diving Costs
It’s worth noting that diving Menjangan is quite expensive due the national park fees and use of the speedboat – not a complaint, but just worth bearing in mind for your budget. Abyss Ocean World quotes prices at time of writing of 2 dives for 1,750,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($113 USD approx) and 3 dives for 1,950,000 IDR ($125) so doing the three dives a day is certainly the most financially efficient but the tides will obviously dictate where you can go. (See Abyss’s full price list for a sense of what to expect cost-wise). It’s considerably cheaper to dive in Pemuteran Bay itself.
Table coral and glassfish, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Accommodation and Food in Pemuteran
Pemuteran feels like it has barely changed in the decade since I saw it last. There’s several resorts and homestays gathered around the small crescent of Pemuteran bay and warungs and tourist restaurants running along the dusty road parallel to the sea. It’s very sleepy and laid back.
Bommie with fans in the white sand shallows, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
We stayed at Adi Assri resort which felt very run down despite the pleasant staff – constantly changing water pressure, broken aircon, battered furniture, lots of mosquitoes, ongoing problems charging credit cards – definitely seen better days.
Fan corals with solitary angel fish, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
The Sage and Eco Taste are two pleasant restaurants which offered decent Italian espresso, smoothies, juices, poke bowls and the like, and which made for a nice change from warung staples like satay, gado gado and nasi goreng. If you peruse Google Maps you’ll see a lots of places along the kilometre stretch behind the bay.
Soft corals on the rock, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
There are several ATMs in the village – two right outside the Adi Assri resort, at least one basic pharmacy and numerous shops that sell bottled water and other essentials, like ice cream.
Fans with 3 angelfish, Menjangan Island © email@example.com
Wifi and Telecoms in Pemuteran
I would definitely recommend you get a SIM card at the airport, or buy an eSim before you arrive. There are wifi spots in the restaurants and hotels but it’s very patchy – better to have your own connectivity especially for using Google Maps to navigate around the area.
Bommie with table coral and fans, Menjangan Island © firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting to Pemuteran and Menjangan Island
Getting to Pemuteran in 2023 is a four to five hour drive from Denpasar airport. The drive is scenic and interesting if you do it during daylight hours as you pass by the famous twin lakes of Tamblingan Lake and Buyan Lake in Munduk and also pass through the mountain villages and get glimpses of rice paddy terraces rolling away below.
My friend Stuart wrote a bit about Pemuteran’s mountains and temples inspired by our visit.
It’s a bit of a slog if you do the journey at night, and, of course, slightly more dangerous. You can book a driver through your dive resort and it’s probably best to get a local driver already familiar with Pemuteran’s mountain roads because there’s some real twisty-turny bends to negotiate.
Pro tip: Try to avoid landing around 4pm as by the time you exit the airport it will be rush hour and Bali’s traffic has got considerably worse after the pandemic – it’ll add up to another hour to your journey.
Many divers do a Bali dive safari heading to Lembongan island in search of mola mola sunfish and then Tulamben to dive the Liberty shipwreck and onto Pemuteran – or the same journey in reverse. It’s about three hours between Tulamben and Pemuteran.
This was how I first visited Menjangan Island back in 2008 as part of a Bali dive safari taking in Bali’s best dive spots – Pemuteran, Tulamben and Lembongan. This classic itinerary is still a great way to explore not only Bali’s wildly different dive environments but see a lot of the island on land too outside of the crowded south west area around Kuta and Seminyak.
Fan bommie and diver, Menjangan Island © email@example.com