Nusa Penida, with Manta Point and Crystal Bay, is a fantastic diving destination for encountering two of the most impressive creatures of the seas : manta rays and sunfish (also known as mola mola).
Nusa Penida is a small island from a group of three (the others being Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan) that lie in the Bandung Strait, south east of Bali.
For the best chances to see the Mola Mola book a dive outside the busy hours as bubbles and noise scary them away.DIVETIP
I took a day trip from Legian with 3 dives included and after leaving early in the morning we were ready for diving near Nusa Penida at 10:00 am.
Manta Point – Manta Ray
This is a manta ray hotspot used as a cleaning station by the giants so there is a very good chance to encounter the mantas.
During high season the dive site can get very crowded so it is recommended to get into water as early as possible.
The cleaning station is relatively shallow at 10 meters / 33 feet and the divers have the opportunity to descend beneath the mantas. The mantas swoop overhead of the divers and sometimes they block the sun creating an impressive view.
During my dive there were over ten manta, both white manta and black manta. They were very friendly and sometimes so close that I hardly capture them with a wide camera. The best way to understand the feeling is to watch the video review.
The current can be strong so this dive is recommended for advanced divers. The water is full of plankton and nutrients and the visibility is low but since the mantas are giant there is no issue to observe them. Maximum depth for this dive is 18 meters / 60 feet.
Crystal Bay – Mola Mola
Bali is one of the best destinations for seeing Mola Mola and Crystal Bay is the recommended site. This strange creature spends most of the time at depths but comes at shallower water in search of the sun rays.
There are also some cleaning stations in 18 – 30 meters / 60 – 100 feet range formed by the huge lime rocks that increase the chance to spot the oceanic sunfish.
During my dive I did not got the chance to meet the Mola Mola. We meet other divers that were lucky just a few minutes ahead of us so I would blame the big crowds. Or I was just unlucky.
Considering this dive can have a maximum depth of up to 30 meters / 100 feet and the current is strong it should be dived only be experienced divers.
This is a beautiful reef with very good coral formations with gorgonians and fan. The rich coral is house for many fishes and other marine animals.
The current is not that strong and this can be a good drift dive, over a nice coral garden.
Maximum depth for this dive is 18 meters / 60 feet and it is an easy dive, excellent as the third dive of the day .
Check my scuba diving experience in the following video review:
The best option is to arrange a dive safari or a day trip starting from Bali. Most of them include road transfer to Sanur and speedboat to the divesites.
When to visit:
Nusa Penida can be dived every day but even though Manta Rays can be seen year round, Mola Mola is present only from July to mid November.
Usually the water is rough but this can be avoided by visiting from November to May.
The water temperature can vary from 20°C to 26°C / 68°F to 79°F so a full wetsuit is recommended. Visibility is good with values around 20 / 65 feet but in Manta Point can decrease considerably because of the plankton.
What you`ll see:
Black Manta Ray, White Manta Ray, Mola Mola, Reef Shark, Clown Triggerfish, Sweetlips, Pufferfish, Surgeonfish, Angelfish, Trevallies, Moorish Idol, Moray Eels, Turtles, Clownfish, Anemones, Sea Fans, Nudibranchs.
This is an excellent and unique opportunity to encounter manta rays while snorkeling.
You can check scuba diving in Bali video.