Located on the north-eastern coast of Bali, Indonesia, Amed is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations of the island of the Gods. Dive sites such as the Wall and the Pyramids are some of the best dive sites in Bali. Scuba divers can frequently see underwater anemone fish and nudibranchs. Amed is about muck diving and is perfect for beginners thanks to its shore dive sites. You can find many PADI and SSI dive centres in Amed. They are mostly located along the beach.
Now, there is something that makes diving in Amed special. Imagine, you wake up in Amed, while on your Bali diving trip. It’s 7 am, you go for a walk on the black volcanic sand, Agung volcano overlooks the beach. It is the time when all fishermen are coming back with their catch. The fish market is directly on the beach, everything sells quickly. Two hours later this is scuba divers’ time!
Sometimes we have the unique opportunity to associate scuba diving with local traditions. In Amed, I had the chance to experiment scuba diving from a “jukung” boat! Thanks to the friendly atmosphere of the fishermen village and the breath-taking views of Mount Agung, the northeast side of Bali quickly became my favourite spot of the Indonesian island.
Amed dive sites: what to expect underwater?
The two main dive sites in Amed are:
- The Wall, a small drop-off on the right side of Jemeluk Bay
- The Pyramids, an artificial reef in Jemeluk Bay
Dive sites in Amed are mostly shallow at about 10 m deep and rarely go below 25m of depth. If you are good on air, it is actually possible to visit the two sites on a one-hour dive. However, be careful, currents can sometimes be strong and so is the impact on your air consumption.
Amed is very famous for “muck diving” on the black sandy bottom of its bay. Between the few hard corals and sea anemones, you can spot many interesting species like mantis shrimps, ribbon eels, hermit crab, anemone fish and a large variety of nudibranchs.
Amed dive sites are great for macro photography, especially for enthusiastic beginners who want to dig more into underwater photography. Indeed, Amed is the place where I started learning the manual settings of my CanonS95 camera with my flash on, so my pictures are not at their best but still a bit better than what I used to do. I can’t wait for the day I will return with much better underwater photography skills.
How to go scuba diving on a jukung?
To dive on the beautiful drop off of Amed and Jemeluk, you can still go shore diving, but it’s better to take the Jukung for 5 to 10 minutes to be on the site directly. Because of the currents, the dive will almost always be a drift dive, so why get tired before the dive when you can have such a unique experience?
The Jukung is the traditional boat of fishermen in South East Asia, mainly in Indonesia and the Philippines, but the origin is Balinese. It’s a small wooden sailboat that looks like a canoe with two outriggers and a triangular sail (which is now also equipped with a gasoline engine). In Bali and Lombok, you can see them on the beach all around the islands. Their style can be slightly different, but it always has this elegant curvy shape. It is often painted in white with bright decorations in blue or yellow. In some areas, the front of the boat ends like a swordfish. Diving from a jukung boat in Bali is a fun and enjoyable experience. It could almost be a scuba diving speciality as this is so special. Sitting on the sides of the boat, you feel like surfing on the surface of the water. It is a perfect first contact with the water before the first dive in the morning.
Diving from a Jukung boat requires special briefing and preparation as space is limited, and no ladder is available:
- Prepare all your equipment on the beach: Put on your wetsuit and boots, take in your hands your fins. Keep in mind you won’t be able to set anything on the boat or even zip your wetsuit as there is not enough space to do it.
- Store gear on board: Usually porters will take you BDC/Regulator/Tank (don’t try to wear 3 tanks like Balinese people). No more than 3 scuba divers go on the boat and tanks fully equipped are put inside the cavity of the canoe. Just take what you need for diving, remember you won’t have any dry storage on board.
- Get wet: To enter into the water no jump with all your gear is possible, so inflate your BCD and put it in the water and get equipped directly from the surface. Be careful of Jukung sidebars (outriggers) and the blades of the engine. Ready? OK? OK! Let’s dive!
- End of the dive: Be careful while ascending as many Jukung boats are present at the surface, the guide will always launch the buoy marker to signal scuba divers’ presence. Watch your buoyancy while doing your safety stop as you do in the blue. Remove your weight belt, your BCD but keep your fins on! You’ll need them to go back on board again by jumping into the boat while kicking energetically.
Which dive centre to choose in Amed?
With the largest concentration of dive centres on Bali, there are 21 scuba diving centres in Amed. They are mostly all located along the beach, so it is quite easy to walk-in a few of them and check which one you like. You may consider if the staff speaks your native language. Beyond offering service in English and Indonesian, I found dive centres with staff who spoke French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. I tried the services of Jukung Dive, a centre run by a Dutch team with a lovely café on Amed Beach, but I can also recommend Dive Concepts who I dived with in Tulamben, they also have a centre in Amed now.
Price will of course be a way to decide, but as a rule of thumb for many things, cheapest is usually not the best idea. The best ones will detail the kind of services they offer and will let you a schedule of the dive sites they will visit in the coming days according to the weather forecast.
How to get to Amed?
Amed is located on the northeast shore of the main island of Bali. It is a 2-hour drive from Ubud or Sanur, depending on the traffic of course. I decided to rent a car as it was affordable and it wasn’t a problem for me to drive on the left. With my scuba diving gear in tow, it was indeed the easier option.
If you don’t want to rent a car yourself, don’t hesitate to ask scuba diving centres for a pick-up at your hotel. They usually all have vans since diving in this area between Amed and Tulamben is mostly about shore diving. Some might offer this service for free! If you need a transfer from another part of the island, the fee is reasonable.
Where to stay in Amed?
Family run guesthouses and small resorts are my favourite option in Bali. I always try to book a private bungalow in the middle of a flower garden near the beach. They have very basic services but the decoration is always tasteful in all Balinese local craft made furniture, and did I tell you about these open-air bathrooms? Prices in those cosy places usually range from 10 to 40€ a night depending on season and distance from the beach.
In Amed, there is such a large choice of lovely beach front bungalows, that I let you have a look and pick your favourite. Note: Walking at sunrise on the beach of Amed to see Mount Agung minutes after waking up is something I will never forget.
Do you have more questions about how to plan your first diving trip to Bali? Let me know in the comments or have a look at these additional articles about scuba diving Bali:
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