DIVING CRYSTAL BAY, NUSA PENIDA
Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida, Bali, is a world famous dive site because you can regularly meet there the Mola Mola, or sunfish, from July to October.
Crystal Bay dive site is one of the most famous dive sites in Bali and even in Indonesia. Diving Nusa Penida without diving Crystal Bay would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. It is indeed one of the few places in the world where you can meet the Mola Mola very regularly, between July and October. And some years even earlier. In 2019, Warnakali instructors spotted their first Mola Mola in Nusa Penida underwater in February.
The Mola Mola, or oceanic sunfish, has the particularity to grow until the end of its life. It can reach 3 to 4 meters in diameter and weigh more than one ton. It will come up from very deep following the upwellings that bring with them nutrients. The upwelling is a phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water.
When diving Crystal Bay, your best chance to meet the Mola Mola is after what is called the second corner, behind the small island in the middle of Crystal Bay. But you must be very attentive to tearing or down currents that can be violent. It is therefore essential to follow an experienced guide knowing perfectly well the dive site and to respect his instructions.
Crystal Bay, an aquarium in Nusa Penida
Even when it is not the season for Mola Mola, Crystal Bay is a great dive spot. It consists of 2 distinct parts. The left part and the right part are separated by a band of sand that goes down to 30 to 40 meters. It continues to the middle of the channel that separates Nusa Penida island from Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan islands.
The left side of the site (to the southwest) is an ideal coral plateau for discovery dives. You can admire a lot of colors, a lot of diversity of coral and fish. It is a beautiful dive site to discover with a shallow depth that meets the criteria of PADI standards. To know more about the marine fauna in Bali you can read this guide of scuba diving in Nusa Penida.
The right part of the site (towards the islet in the middle of the bay) is the starting point to go and search for the Mola Mola.
Crystal Bay is also a great snorkeling spot in Nusa Penida island and it is worth to pay a visit to the beach after the dive. After the beach you can also go to Amok sunset to have a drink, eat some nice food and rest around the pool before the sunset.
What is a typical dive at Crystal Bay ?
Crystal Bay dive site is very wide and there are many ways to dive here. An excursion to Crystal Bay is never the same experience twice. We start our dive on the coral plateau that surrounds the bay’s emblematic rock. Then, the call of the blue will bring us on coral bumps and asperities, which are typical for this dive spot. From there you can admire the site’s breathtaking piece of aquatic art. The slope goes deeper down and into a white sandbar. On your way back, some canyons, digged into the rock, are home for many different species.
We can also go around the rock, in the direction of the wall, which is full of color and life, and hit by the currents.
Crystal Bay is a massive playground for divers but also for animals. It’s the favorite dive spot of the Mola Mola, moray eel, leaf fish. At Crystal Bay you can find everything.
The Crystal Bay Wildlife
Crystal Bay dive site offers the opportunity to see a wide variety of corals and fish such as surgeon fish, butterfly fish, rabbit fish and sergeant fish.
We may also meet moray eels including the very cute and small moray ribbon. You can see regularly turtles, and sometimes even bamboo sharks and manta rays. Macro lovers will not be disappointed either. They may see Zanzibar shrimps, Thor shrimps, porcelain crabs and many varieties of nudibranchs.
The two corners of Crystal Bay dive site
There are many ways to enjoy scuba diving at Crystal Bay dive site. A very simple route, for less experienced divers, is to leave the boat at the left of the islet located in the middle of the bay. Then stay a little bit on the plateau and reach by a gentle slope what is called the first corner. This corner is the first rock of the island that forms an angle and protects the bay from the current. Without exceeding the first corner, the dive ends by returning to the protected part of the bay.
The canyons of Crystal Bay
More confirmed divers, with the good guide, will go beyond the first corner. The slope becomes like a spine of coral that sinks very deeply. Currents can be strong which is the opportunity to see big trevallies and a very colorful coral vegetation.
Going up the slope on the right leads you to three canyons. There is often surf but the canyons are still very preserved because few divers go there. They are very rich in macro, there are beautiful colors and you can observe very beautiful fish in small groups.
The famous second corner of Crystal Bay dive site
Continuing along the wall, without going up to the canyons, you will reach what is called the second corner. This is where we can most often see the Mola Mola, in the blue. But the currents can be very violent and it is imperative to follow an experienced guide.
In general, we go back to the right side of the coral reef which goes back to the Crystal Bay island. And we finish the dive sheltered from the currents, in the bay.
Diving Crystal Bay instructors best of
“Crystal Bay is a good spot to teach. I do really enjoy it, because over there you can perform every skill safely. Also, our students can admire the beauty of the site while practicing their skills. In brief, the site is great and interesting for teaching as well as for guiding.”
« Due to its configuration, Crystal Bay is definitely the perfect dive spot for a discovery dive as for the improvement of diving skills. The shallow part is rich in flora & fauna, a perfect match for a safe & beautiful DSD. The big sandy bottom area is also a very efficient playground to perform the skills required for an Open Water course.
On each sides of the bay, you can find impressive & lively walls going deep. An incredible layout to teach the deep adventure of the Advanced Open water course, or the Deep specialty. As you now understand, Crystal Bay is a really suitable dive site for teaching a big diversity of courses. You will never do the same dive twice, being dazzled by the fantastic biodiversity of the site. Definitively a must do for every single one, discovering diving or confirmed divers. »
Words of our guests diving Crystal Bay
« I have been diving in Crystal Bay very often, and most of the times with Yann. Each time I make sure to stay behind and a little bit shallower than him. This way he can check the conditions first and avoid some struggles as this happened the first time when we came here.
One check at every step: First corner? OK. Second corner? OK. Mola Mola? Sometimes!
I remember that time when Yann asked me if I wanted to go all around the island. Of course, I was excited about it. But I have to admit that it was a bit scary though. When we almost reached our target, a really strong rip current appeared. It was strong, too strong and I had to let go, a few meters from the destination. Let’s try it again another time, alright Yann? »
Blaise, Master Scuba Diver
How to dive at Crystal Bay
You can dive at Crystal Bay with Warnakali dive center during a discovery dive, a PADI certification course or, if you are certified, during a fun dive.
The characteristics of Crystal Bay dive site
Type of diving: diving, photography, marine biology, training, technical, deep
Depth: 6 to 40 meters
Level required: for all levels (with the right guide and according to the conditions)
Visibility : 20-30 meters
Current: mild to very strong
Access: 15 minutes navigation from Toyapakeh
Temperature of the sea : 18 ° (sunfish maybe around …) to 28 °
Fauna and Flora: Mola Mola, turtle, reef shark, frogfish, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, …
Best time: All year