Bali is a dream destination for many scuba divers and now after two trips there I can easily understand why. The island of the Gods is a paradise for adventure seekers and culture lovers while being very affordable. If you look at scuba diving package holidays you might have been shocked by the price tag whereas it is simple to plan a trip to Bali by yourself including scuba diving. Ready to prepare your own Bali road trip itinerary?
In 2 weeks in Bali, you can easily pack at least 5 exciting scuba diving sites while visiting at least 8 breath-taking places. With so much diversity, you can feel overwhelmed with what to see, what to do and where to dive in only 2 weeks in Bali. Here is the most scenic and efficient Bali diving itinerary I can recommend based on my two trips there. Just follow the guide!
How to get around Bali and organise your own road trip?
Most people still find it hard to believe, but yes you can drive in Bali! Just don’t forget to stay on the left like in the UK. If it can be tricky with the many scooters and motorbikes around Denpasar in the south, from the moment you are north of Ubud, traffic clears up dramatically! Driving by yourself across mountains, rice paddies and along the coast makes the experience of a Bali road trip itinerary magical.
Still, if you don’t feel like renting a car in Bali and drive by yourself, the best tip I can give scuba divers is to book transfers with dives centres. Personally, I prefer renting a car, as it is easier when you travel with your own scuba diving gear and it gives me more freedom with my schedule as I can decide to make additional sightseeing between 2 dive sites.
To rent a car during your 2 weeks in Bali, I warmly recommend André in Sanur, I rented a Suzuki car with him on my first trip to Bali, and it was the best price for the best service. I only paid 20€ a day, and although I broke a tiny piece of plastic from the front bumper during my only attempt to drive in Kuta, I didn’t have to pay anything extra in the end!
Map of my 2 week Bali road trip itinerary
You will find below the map of my 2-week road trip in Bali going through:
- Nusa Lembongan
1 – Ubud: 4 days
When landing at Denpasar Ngurah Rai Airport, please skip Kuta/Legian/Seminyak and go directly to Ubud. This is definitely the best way to start any Bali road trip itinerary. You’ll save time, money and a wrong first impression about Bali. Many people stick to Kuta because the International Airport is actually in Kuta and “this is where everyone goes, right?”. Ubud is not that far from Kuta and can be visited even on a short 3-day itinerary in Bali.
Only 1 hour driving away from the airport, the amazing town of Ubud, in the middle of the rice fields is waiting for you for a relaxing and mesmerising first experience of Bali. There is no public transportation from Denpasar Airport, so you need to take a taxi. You can ask your hotel, or you can take one directly at the airport.
Don’t be surprised at the arrivals, you’ll see a crowd of taxi drivers ready to pick-up your luggage. Up to you to use their services but be aware there is an official office where you usually book your taxi just at the exit of the arrival terminal if you want to avoid being ripped off. If you wish to save time, you can negotiate with one of these drivers, if you get your ride to Ubud for 350,000 Rp (£17/23€), this is a good price.
What to do in Ubud?
Waking up in Ubud on your first morning of your 2 weeks in Bali will be an ideal start. Being in the centre of the island, a bit in altitude and surrounded by forests, the climate In Ubud is always milder than on the coast. A day in Ubud will be a mix of walks between the temples and the rice fields, yummy healthy meals from traditional Indonesian food to organic raw specialities, yoga classes and Balinese oil massages.
Rent a car or a motorbike for some fabulous day trips to Goa Gajah, Tirta Empul or the rice terraces of Ceking. It will be an excellent introduction to Balinese culture even if they tend to be touristy. One key point to enjoy these sites in better conditions is to do them early in the morning around 7 am to 9 am (I know, I know but peace and silence in these places are priceless).
Where to stay in Ubud?
Bali is a great place for every type of travellers, whether you are looking for a simple and cheap accommodation or splurging in luxury. You can quickly find charming guest houses with swimming pool for less than £15/20€ a night on Booking.com. In Ubud, I loved staying at Dewangga Bungalows. Right in the centre of Ubud, it is on a quiet side street. The gardens are beautiful, and the swimming pool in the middle is the perfect place to be after a day of wandering.
2 – Pemuteran: 3 days
From Ubud to Pemuteran, the fastest road takes you to Bedugul at 1500m in the mountains. Enjoy the altitude on your Bali road trip itinerary before starting scuba diving. While stopping at Pura Ulun, the temple on the shore of Bratan Lake, you will enjoy a cooling temperature and a soft breeze. Make sure to taste the altitude grown strawberries. On the way down to Singaraja, the second biggest city of Bali, you can also stop to explore the beautiful Gigit Waterfalls. As this is quite a drive to Pemuteran, it’s recommended to do it on at least a 10-day Bali itinerary.
After Singaraja, while driving along the north coast, you will pass Lovina, famous for dolphin watching tours. I’d like to recommend not going even if it is very tempting. Too many boats harass the poor dolphins; it looks like a hunt. Instead, for a visit off the beaten path before Pemuteran, go to Banjar, where you can visit Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery. The temple has different levels along the hill with prayer rooms, gardens and a couple of stupas. The highest level is a stunning outdoor meditation area surrounded by frangipani trees and with a grey stone stupa similar to the style of Borobudur Temple in Java.
Diving in Menjangan Island
Pemuteran will be your base to explore the West Bali National Park and the Island of Menjangan during your 2 weeks in Bali. Thanks to its calm waters and wonderful coral reefs, if you are not yet a certified scuba diver, diving in Menjangan Island is the best place to do a discovery dive or pass your Open Water certification. Passionate underwater photographers can also extend their stay by 1 or 2 days to explore the excellent muck diving sites of the Bay of Pemuteran and Gilimanuk.
Where to stay in Pemuteran?
Arjuna Homestay offers a luxury experience for a very affordable price. Rooms, so tasteful and comfortable, are located along the swimming pool. The delicious breakfast served on their top terrace with the view of the mountains make every penny worth.
3 – Tulamben & Amed: 4 days
For this part of your Bali road trip itinerary, make sure to let 12 to 24 hours before hitting the road again after your last dive in Pemuteran. The safest option to go to Tulamben is to follow the coast. The advantage is that east of Lovina you will discover a wilder side of Bali rarely seen by other travellers. Amed and Tulamben being fairly accessible from Ubud or Sanur, it’s possible to go diving there on a shorter 5-day Bali itinerary or 7-day Bali itinerary.
Diving in Tulamben and Amed
To go diving in Tulamben and diving in Amed, you can choose to stay in only one of these 2 villages. They are only 15 minutes of driving from each other. Nothing special in Tulamben but it is the best place to stay if you want to go on a sunrise dive and be the first on the famous USAT Liberty Wreck in the morning. Between Tulamben and Amed, it is a paradise for macro underwater photography lovers at Seraya Secrets. Amed is a more charming place with its long black sand beach. The interesting part about diving in Amed is to go to your dive site with a local jukung boat. Personally, I would recommend Tulamben if you only have 2 weeks in Bali and if you are as addicted as I am about scuba diving.
Where to stay in Tulamben?
The Matahari Dive Resort, right on the beach, is my favourite with their beautiful spa where you hear the sound of the waves during your Balinese massage. Alternatively, you can stay in Amed in one of the many lovely and affordable beachfront bungalows.
4 – Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida: 3 days
Nusa Lembongan will be the cherry on top of your Bali road trip itinerary as this is where you may be able to meet the shy mola-molas (oceanic sunfish) and the gracious manta rays from July to September. It takes 2 hours and a half to drive from Amed to Sanur, you can board a fast boat taking you in 25 minutes to Nusa Lembongan. Golden sandy beach, Sunset with a view of Bali’s volcanoes, Mangroves and Cliffs: Lembongan and its little sister linked by a suspended bridge, Ceningan, are amazing places to explore.
Diving in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida
Only a 20-minute boat ride away from Nusa Lembongan, in the Ceningan Channel between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, lies the famous dive site of Crystal Bay. By going diving in Nusa Lembongan between July and September, you may have the incredible chance of meeting a mola-mola or oceanic sunfish. By going a little further south following the Nusa Penida coastline, there is another dive site you don’t want to miss: Manta Point.
Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan?
I went to Pondok Baruna as it was a friend’s favourite. I directly understood why. Large rooms with an extremely comfortable bed in a small one-floor building with only 6 rooms next to a swimming pool. 1-minute walking on the right I had my dive centre, 2 minutes walking on the left I could go to the long sandy beach of Jungut Batu and its breath-taking view of Mount Agung at sunset.
5 – Uluwatu: 1 day
As you know, on your last 24 h, you cannot dive. Boring? No, just take the opportunity to go on one last adventure to end your Bali road trip itinerary! Take the boat back to Sanur, and just south of the Ngurah Rai Airport, there is a beautiful site you should not miss if this is your first time in Bali. Rather than going to Tanah Lot, which is overcrowded, I always like to recommend Uluwatu instead.
The south tip of Bali is famous among surfers, less within scuba divers. The temple of Uluwatu is right at the top of a high cliff. The view is breath-taking, you feel like floating in the ocean. Be careful about the monkeys! They can jump on you to steal your sunglasses or your flip-flops. Carefully hide any loose items. The male can be aggressive but I saw a couple of adorable mama monkeys with their babies. After your visit that should be less than an hour, you can be back to the airport in only 40 minutes.
Best time to go on a road trip to Bali
Like most countries of Southeast Asia, Bali has a tropical, warm and humid, climate all-year-round due to its close location to the Equator. With an average air temperature of 26°C, the climate in Bali is enjoyable all year round. However, the Indonesian island has two main seasons: the rainy season from November to April, and the dry season from May to October. I have travelled twice to Bali, the first time during the wet season and the second time during the dry season.
My first trip was in January which is supposed to be the worst period of the rainy season. Honestly, it rained mainly at night and maybe one hour of the day on average. Because it was the low season, I could easily find very cheap accommodation everywhere and the weather was still warm.
July and August are great months from a climate point of view, but obviously, because of the summer holidays in Europe, it is the peak season. Then everything is more expensive and any place overcrowded. The best compromise is to plan 2 weeks in Bali between September and October when it is the right season to see the mola-molas in Nusa Penida and this is still the dry season.
Do you need more information to plan your Bali road trip itinerary? Check these additional articles about travelling and scuba diving in Bali:
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