Bali is situated just east of Java and west of Lombok and is one of the 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago. It may be small in size but its prominence as a destination is huge, and rightfully so! Whether you are a “hardcore” or a “soft” diver, a nature or an art lover, traveling with a non-diver companion or with kids, there is something for everyone on the Island of the Gods.
Views over picturesque rice terraces, tranquil mountain lakes and a stunning coastline are breathtaking. Hindu temples dot the landscape, atmospheric ceremonies are organized almost daily, and the artistic swirl of Ubud is a counterpoint to misty treks amid the active volcanoes. All of this combined with the friendliness of the Balinese people, glorious weather and white, gray and black sand beaches make Bali one of the world’s most fascinating islands.
Menjangan Island and Bali National Park
Northwest Bali, locally called Buleleng, covers the largest part of Bali’s north coast and is one of the most untouched areas of the island. Most tourists never make it up there! The atmosphere is more relaxed and the lifestyle more traditional than in other regions of Bali. Development is sparse and the pace is slow, with images of waving palms, women carrying baskets on their heads and scenic rice terraces.
Our partnering resorts are located on a lagoon-like inlet of Banyuwedang Bay, right next to Bali Barat National Park, which extends throughout the region and covers around 770,000 square kilometers, or approximately 10% of Bali’s total land area. Menjangan Island (Deer Island in Indonesian), one of the most protected dive locations in Bali, is part of the national park.
The ride from Denpasar airport takes about 3 hours through some of Bali’s most picturesque landscapes: perched 1,000 meters above sea level, the highland of the Bedugul region is home to three lakes, then, tropical plantations of coffee, flowers and vanilla fill most views along the road.
The Bali Barat National Park
In 1974, a region of 200 sq km of coastal forest in the northwestern tip of Bali was designated as a nature park. The area was extended in the 80’s and became the Bali Barat National Park. The mountainous land consists of monsoon, mangrove and lowland rain forests, savanna, sandy beaches, and both shallow and deep sea waters. During the dry season, the landscape becomes scorched and yellow. When the monsoon rains fall, the area magically becomes lush and green.
The park is home to approximately 300 species of birds, including the critically-endangered white starling, and a variety of migratory birds which cross the Bali Strait from Java, such as the blue kingfisher, and the white-bellied sea eagle. Ant-eaters, leopard cats, barking deer, black monkeys and giant squirrels also inhabit the park. Among the 175 species of plants found in the area are lontar palm, sawo kecik, cendana, kepuh etc…
Diving Northwest Bali and Menjangan Island
Menjangan Island (Menjangan) lies just 8 km off the coast of the Bali Barat National Park, and became Bali's first internationally known dive location in 1978. Puri Jati and Secret Bay, two other famous dive spots, are located to the east and west of Menjangan, respectively.
The 11+ dive sites in the area range in depth from 5 to 40 meters (16 to 131ft). Diving is conducted all year round, with optimum conditions being offered from April to November. The visibility is sometimes exceptional, reaching 40m (131 ft), with an average of 20m (66ft). Few spots, which are usually dived at dusk to observe mandarin fishes, can be reached within less than 15 minutes. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Menjangan, Secret Bay and Puri Jati. Because of their depth and moderate currents, most sites are accessible to Padi Open Water divers (or equivalent).
Menjangan: the island, which is reached by boat, is surrounded by a reef and famous for its spectacular drop-offs. The shallows have been damaged by dynamite fishing, anchoring, and a crown of thorns starfish “attack” in 1997. Fortunately, the reef has been recovering very well over the last decade, and the walls were not impacted. The drop-offs are covered with gorgonians, soft corals and sponges, where pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, and oran-utang crabs are often spotted. Crevices and caves are home to groupers, turtles and moray eels. Menjangan is a destination for fans of underwater sceneries and macro! However, there are occasional sightings of pelagics, such as reef sharks, tuna fishes, and dolphins escorting dive boats.
- Puri Jati (PJ) and Secret Bay (also called Gilimanuk Bay): these sites, which are both dived from the shore, are reached by A/C minivan. They both offer world-class muck diving experiences: in the shallows with average visibility and no corals, but wow!! So many rare critters: seahorses, frogfishes (sometimes hairy ones), ghost pipe-fishes, dragonets, banggai cardinal-fishes, wasp-fishes, octopus etc… We love them, but they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you like PJ, you will like Secret Bay, and vice-versa.
For detailed information about what we have seen while diving Menjangan, you can review our logbook.
Some of the Most Famous Dive Sites
Garden Eel Point:
Named after a huge colony of garden eels, this dive starts on a wall with some of the healthiest gorgonians and sea-fans on Menjangan, then continues to a sandy slope hosting the garden eels, to end up over the reef. This area is known for sightings of reef sharks, barracudas, turtles, and Napoleons. A great diversity of colorful fishes and macro species, such as harlequin crabs and imperial shrimps, populate the shallows.
Secret Bay - Gilimanuk Bay:
A dive on a black sandy bottom, with maximum depth of 9m. The environment is gloomy, but rubbles and detritus are home to many rare critters. Artificial structures are populated by frog fishes, banggai cardinal-fishes and file-fishes and a small wreck hosts hundreds of juvenile cat-fishes. Dragonets, hairy frog-fishes, seahorses and snake eels hide in herbal fields or in the sand. An excellent site for critter-lovers and u/w photographers!
Located on Menjangan's most south-easterly point, the dive takes you along a wall covered with multicolored soft corals, sponges and gorgonians. At approx. 25m, thermoclines are encountered as upwelling of cold water from the deep sea is met, occasionally bringing turtles, sharks, sometimes mantas or other pelagics. When the current is heading west, a couple of small caves that are worth a look,can be observed.
Mimpi Dive Center
Mimpi Dive Center, a Padi Dive Resort, is located within the resort’s facilities, less than 5 minutes walk away from all accommodations, next to the main restaurant and right at the water edge of Banyuwedang Bay. The dive center chose to operate fishing boats, which they rent from local fishermen, who can therefore earn money without impacting the marine life. These wooden boats are convenient for diving and can accommodate up to 8 divers. They are powered by 50hp Yamaha engines and fitted with first-aid kits and medical oxygen. The maximum number of divers on a dive guide is 8.
Technical and Admin Information
- rental equipment: Aqualung and Mares regulators, Scubapro and Seaquest BCDs, and Nemo wetsuits
- 12 liter aluminum tanks (international and DIN cylinder valves are available and adaptors can be provided free of charge), tanks, weights and weight belts are provided
- night/mandarin dives possible every night, torches can be rented
- Nitrox not available
- logbook - dive certification card
- medical clearance for scuba diving from a physician, issued within the last 12 months
- evidence of repatriation insurance
Recommended diving equipment and documents: 3 or 5mm wetsuits and torch, dive computer, safety sausage, magnifying glass, insurance covering dive-related injuries (DAN or equivalent)
The closest hyperbaric chamber is located in Denpasar, all dives are within no-decompression limits.
Other Activities and Excursions
Menjangan is a non-diver-friendly destination where a wide range of attractions is available. The Bali Barat National Park is a major highlight in the area. Yet, our partnering resort boast relaxed spa and large pools with spectacular views and offer various fun activities.
A typical day for a diver at Menjangan goes as follows:
- two dives, from 9:00 AM till 1:00 to 3:00 PM
- optional mandarin or night dive
Activities for non-divers and for divers’ dry days are the following:
- Park Trekking: treks ranging from 2 to 5 hours are arranged to explore the lowland bush and forest of the Bali Barat National Park. These treks provide opportunities to observe some wilds such as black and macaque monkeys, various species of birds, giant squirrels etc… Recommended season: April to October
- Park Safari: the exploration is arranged by car and covers a distance of 12 km through an unpaved road into the heart of the Bali Barat National Park conservation zone. The area is home to an impressive variety of species: monkeys, barking deer, wild pigs, giant lizards, wild cats and eagles are among the vertebrates that populate the monsoon forest and savanna. Several floras include sawo kecik, panggal buaya and cendana. The tour is only organized during the dry season from June to October, when the wild approaches the coastline
- Bird Watching: the Bali Barat National Park is the preferred habitat for approximately 300 species of tropical birds, both migratory and endemic. This guided tour of approximately 2 hours is a unique opportunity to observe jungle fowls, paoks, kingfishers etc… Best observation time is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Recommended season: June to October
- Temple Visits: some of Bali’s major temples are located just a few minutes drive from the resorts, including the famous temples of Pulaki, Melanting and Pabean. These temples were built during the holy trip of the great Hindu missionary, Danghyang Nirartha who came from the great kingdom of Majapahit in Java, in the 16th century, to teach Hinduism to the people of Bali
- Pearl-Farming: pearl of high quality is intensively produced in the Menjangan area. Tours cover all stages of the production process, from hatchery to harvesting, and offer an opportunity to buy pearls at the best value for money and quality
- Snorkeling in Banyuwedang bay and around Menjangan Island is spectacular and might convince non-divers to discover scuba diving!
- Spa: both Mimpi and Novus resorts have spas offering a wide selection of treatments to rejuvenate body and soul after an active day
- Enjoying the Banyuwedang hot springs: the hot springs supply Mimpi resort with high quality water at a temperature of C 46.4. The water is comparable to that of other well-known thermal springs waters, such as Achen and Neuenahr (Germany), or Evian and Vichy (France).
The Kids' Corner
Baby sitting service can be arranged, so divers can feel comfortable while enjoying their passion.
In addition to most of the excursions and activities mentioned in the above section, which are suitable to children, the following activities will also please kids:
- The Turtle Project: this initiative was launched in 1994 in the nearby village of Pemuteran. The organization buys turtle eggs from the locals, thus providing them with an eco-friendly alternative to earn money. Juvenile turtles can be released to the ocean for a donation of only IRP 50,000 (EUR 4).
- The Bali Starling Rehabilitation Centers: the Bali Barat National Park is home to Bali’s only endemic bird, the Bali Starling. The bird is pure white except for its black wing-tips and blue face. Today, it is believed that less than 30 Bali Starling’s still live in the wild! A conservation program and two rehabilitation centers have been implemented, with the objective of introducing captive Starlings back to the wild.
Mimpi Resort Menjangan
Mimpi Resort is located next to Bali Barat National Park and overlooks a bay with luxuriant mangrove vegetation. It features 30 patio rooms and 24 courtyard villas, all equipped with A/C, a half-open Balinese shower with hot and cold water, a mini-bar and a safe.
Patio Rooms (twin and double) are landscaped facing a tropical garden and boast a terrace with comfortable sofas.
Courtyard Villas feature a private, walled garden with a natural hot spring tub adjacent to a day-bed gazebo. Some of them are available with upper loft for additional bedding. Six villas have their own fresh water dip-pool and outdoor table. Some pool villas are connected to a “regular” villa, allowing a large family or a small group to share a pool.
The resort has four communal hot springs and two fresh water pools: one overlooking the park, the other perched at the edge of Banyuwedang bay, next to the mangrove.
The main restaurant is beautifully set up at the water edge of the bay, and a smaller restaurant and bar is located in the park. They serve a-la-carte Asian and Western meals. Other facilities include a spa and a souvenir shop. Internet can be accessed from the reception desk.
Required and Recommended Equipment and Documents
In addition to your documents related to your repatriation insurance (and for divers: your logbook, dive certification card and a medical clearance for scuba diving), you will need:
- your passport, which must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond intended date of entry into Indonesia
- a visa, which, for nationals of most countries, can be purchased on arrival. Please make sure you have one entire blank page for the placement of your visa (we made the mistake and paid the price...).
At the time of research (you may double-check with your local Indonesian Embassy for updates to the visa policy):
- nationals of the following countries and territories were eligible for a "Visa Free" facility for a visit of up to 30 days: Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Morocco, Chile and Peru.
- nationals of the following countries and territories could obtain a “Visa On Arrival” processed at the gate of entry following the payment of a USD 25 (for a 30 day visa): Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, People's Republic of China, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Surinam, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Citizens of countries not listed above must apply for a visa overseas before arriving in Indonesia.
The visa on arrival facility will only be available at the following international airports: Medan, Pekanbaru, Padang, Soekarno-Hatta (Jakarta), Halim Perdana Kusuma (Jakarta), Surabaya, Denpasar (Bali), Manado, Yogyakarta, Solo, Mataram (Lombok), Balikpapan, Makassar, Kupang.
We also recommend you bring with you:
- sun cream
- mosquito repellent
How to get there / Flight information
You will need to land on Bali’s international airport, which is located in Denpasar, where our local partner will be waiting for you. From there, it takes approximately 3 hours to reach your resort.
At the time of research, we found direct flights operated from the following cities: Shanghai (on Thursdays and Sundays), Seoul, Perth, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei and Bangkok.
Health and Safety
Bali is not a malaria-endemic area. The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Southeast Asia. Travelers to Southeast Asia should be up to date with vaccinations against polio, tetanus and diphtheria. You may also consider a hepatitis A shot.
Full medical insurance, including medical evacuation outside of your country of residence, is mandatory. We also recommend scuba divers to ensure their personal insurance covers dive related injuries. Should you consider becoming a member of DAN Asia-Pacific, please click here
Bali is generally considered a safe destination. However, there has in recent years been an increase of petty crimes, like pick-pocketing, etc... Therefore, the general rule of not showing off your wealth is advisable and usual travel precautions apply, such as restraining your urge to go wandering around seedy areas alone late at night and not leaving valuables or important documents unattended.
History and Culture
Bali has been populated since early prehistoric times. Around 2,000 BC, the island was inhabited by Austronesian peoples who migrated originally from Taiwan. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, and Oceania. They were strongly influenced by Chinese, Indian and particularly Hindu cultures. Not much is known of a period that started in the 1st century, and the earliest records are stone inscriptions dating from 914 AD. Rice was being grown under a complex irrigation system, and some traditions still in existence today can be traced back to these times. Bali and Hindu Java then underwent several episodes of conquering each other. When the Majapahit Empire on eastern Java declined, at the end of the 15th century, most of its intelligentsia moved to Bali, including the priest Nirartha, who is credited with introducing many of the complexities of the Balinese religion. Artists, dancers, musicians and actors also fled to Bali.
In 1597, a group of Dutch explorers were the first Europeans to set foot in Bali, where prosperity and artistic activity were at a peak. As the Batavian colonial domination expanded across the Indonesian archipelago in the 19th century, the Dutch increased their political and economic control over Bali. After several assaults at the beginning of the 1900’s, the Dutch governors managed the administration of the island, but local control over religion and culture remained intact. Dutch rule over Bali was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia and was short-lived, as Indonesia fell to the Japanese during WWII. Following Japan's surrender, the Dutch promptly returned to the island to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration and established Bali as one of the 13 districts of the newly-proclaimed State of East Indonesia. When the Netherlands recognized Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949, Bali became part of United States of Indonesia, which in 1950 became the Republic of Indonesia.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many Balinese refugees to relocate to other parts of Indonesia. Then, Bali saw conflicts between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting these values. An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto and the army became the dominant power. Suharto was able to maneuver Sukarno out of the presidency and relations with western countries were reestablished. In the early 1970’s, the tourism boom started and helped pay for improvements in roads, telecommunications, education and health. Though tourism has had some adverse environmental and social effects, Bali’s unique culture has proved to be remarkably resilient. Beginning in the 1990's there has been vocal public opposition to some controversial tourist developments, which indicates that Balinese people will play a more active role in the development of their island.
Country Facts and Practical Information
Climate: equatorial, with the wet season from November to March, and the dry season from April to October. Temperatures rarely drop below 25C (78F), with usual day temperature at around 28C (82F). Cyclones and typhoons are absent in Indonesia.
Population: the 2000 census indicated a total population of 240 million people, including 3.1 million in the province of Bali
- Language: in addition to Bahasa Indonesia, the official language in Indonesia, people in Bali speak Balinese, a Malayo-Polynesian language also spoken in northern Nusa Penida, western Lombok and eastern Java. Most Balinese people also speak English.
- Religions: the 2000 census indicated that 86% of the Indonesian population label themselves Muslim (primarily Sunnis), 9% Christian, 2% Hindu, and 3.4% "other or unspecified". One of the most fascinating facets of Bali is the influence of Hinduism (over 90% of the population adhere to Balinese Hinduism) on the island’s culture: there are temples in every village, offerings being made at every corner and ceremonies organized almost daily!
- Electricity: electric current is 220-240 V, 50 Hz, and uses the European two round pins plugs and the two parallel flat pins with ground pin plugs.
- Time difference: GMT +8 hours (excluding daylight saving time considerations)
- Telephone: international access codes 001 and 008, country code 62. Mobile phones can be used in the resort with roaming for international customers. Local prepaid SIM-Cards can also be purchased.
- Internet: it can be accessed from the resort
- Currency: the official currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
ATM & cash: there are ATM machines in the nearby city of Pemuteran. Credit cards are accepted in our partnering resort.