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If you’ve ever wanted to explore the underwater world on one breath, Bali is a top destination to do so. Off of this magical island’s coastline are thriving coral reefs, manta rays, reef sharks, coral gardens, and marine life waiting to be discovered. In this post, we’ll show you where to go freediving in Bali.
Bali is an island in Indonesia with a handful of smaller islands in its territory. The most popular are Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Lembongan.
When researching where to go freediving in Bali, you might find schools that are found on the Gili Islands of Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. These are technically not in Bali but are a part of Lombok. We’ll be covering the best freediving schools in Bali and the islands within its domain.
Why go Freediving in Bali?
There are many types of freedivers. Some freedivers like to explore along reefs or swim alongside marine life while others like to set personal records. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to freedive no matter what type of apnea training you’re into.
Warm water: The average water temperature in Bali is around 27-29°C (81-84°F) all year long. While you can opt for a wetsuit, you’ll be just fine in a swimsuit and rashguard for casual freediving.
Marine life: Reef sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, mola mola, nudibranchs… the list goes on and on. Bali is surrounded by coral reef and many freediving schools in Bali have are involved with sustainable coral gardening programs.
Unlimited depth and calm seas: Some of the best freediving spots in Bali, like Jemeluk Bay or off Pemuteran, have depths that reach 50 meters plus. A lack of currents in these areas also enables freedivers to hit their depth goals with little interference when it comes to currents.
Social freediving scene: Freediving is still quite a unique sport, with more people joining every day. In other island nations like Fiji, it can be a challenge to find freediving buddies, courses, and others to train with. However, Bali has a massive freediving scene compared to other places in the world, making it an easy place to find a buddy and drink a beer with.
Plenty of choice: There are tens of freediving instructors who’ve made Bali their home. The difference in school settings, certification agencies, and instructor options makes Bali one of the best places in the world to learn.
Because freediving at its core is simply diving on one breath, you can freedive just about anywhere you find calm water. Obviously, some of the best freediving schools are found next to the best freediving spots.
I’m new to freediving, do I really need a course? YES. Freediving without a proper background is dangerous and can be deadly. It is not a sport you can learn solely online or even teach yourself, like surfing or standup paddling. While you don’t need to be ultra-athletic or even very experienced in the water to become a capable freediver, you absolutely need to take a course.
Ousia Freediving Academy
Best for: Freedivers who are into offbeat travel and want a highly personalized course – The Salt Sirens Top Pick.
Courses offered: Beginner to Instructor (AIDA/PADI/Apnea International). Suitable for beginner to advanced freedivers.
Owned by Indonesian freediver Yoshua Surjo, this freediving course is located in the quiet beach town of Pemuteran, one of the most underrated regions of Bali. Yoshua asks all freedivers what their goals for the course or training are, so that he can tailor his instructions to suit each freediver’s specific interest and ability. No matter if you’re seeking to reach a new depth or hoping to master your equalization techniques, Ousia Freediving Academy is one of the best freediving schools for those who want an experience that stretches a bit beyond the one-size-fits-all experience you may have at other freediving centers. Many instructors teaching around Bali have trained with Yoshua!
Trainings take place from a boat off of Pemuteran, where a coral garden complete with statues of Garuda, buddhas, and other funky underwater objects await.
The Salt Sirens writers have typed many articles from the beachside bean bag chairs at Blue Corner Freedive. It’s one of the best hangout spots in Bali! Part of a larger scuba dive center, Blue Corner Freedive offers courses, freediving retreats, and excursions all set on the quaint island of Nusa Lembongan–and each training or course is taught to a high caliber of safety standards.
Nusa Lembongan is also an incredible home base during your freediving course if you also want to surf, scuba dive, or chill with a drink in hand. Staying relaxed (key to a successful apnea session) is easy when you’re in such a spectacular place.
Best for: All-around freedivers who want to socialize in between reaching depth goals.
Courses offered: Beginner to instructor (AIDA/PADI/Apnea Total). Suitable for beginner to advanced freedivers.
Apnea Bali is one of the most commonly recommended Bali freediving schools by our readers. Located in the tranquil town of Tulamben alongside a black sand beach, the school hosts a range of instructors who vary in teaching style. While freedivers often come here to train intensely to reach personal records, new freedivers will feel at ease as well.
The USAT Liberty–a shipwreck encrusted with corals–is just a short walk away from the freediving school’s doorstep. This makes it one of the most accessible freediving sites in Bali and a prime place to have a bit of fun in between more serious training sessions.
Best for: Freedivers who want to dive in a relaxed and unique location.
Courses offered: Beginner to instructor (SSI/Molchanovs). Suitable for beginner to experienced freedivers.
Location: Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida, one of Bali’s larger outer islands, is famous for its gargantuan manta rays. It’s an island that’s yet to fall victim to mass tourism and an influx of copy-and-paste smoothie bowl cafes like you might on Bali’s southern end. At Freedive Nusa, freedivers can take any level of course or opt for strictly a training session. For a multi-day adventure, join one of Freedive Nusa’s hosted trips to Komodo Island, Raja Ampat, or a day trip around Nusa Penida (where you might see manta rays!).
There is no blanket ‘best’ freediving school in Bali. It depends on your preferences, mindset, and goals when it comes to freediving. Teaching styles vary from instructor to instructor. Some instructors prefer to push their students while others focus on total relaxation. Some schools offer a communal and social experience where others opt for a private, boutique approach.
These are some things to consider when choosing a freediving course in Bali.
Amed/Tulamben: Here you’ll find the most popular part of Bali for freedivers, with a handful of school stretched along the small towns of Amed and Tulamben. We recommend arriving early and checking out the freedive centers in person to see which one feels most welcoming. Come here for tranquil rice paddies, the USAT Liberty Wreck, coral gardens, and thriving reef life. Freediving from shore is possible.
Nusa Lembongan: A small island with a handful of surf spots and yoga centers. Think white sand beaches and plenty of places to relax. Most freedive training is done from a boat.
Nusa Penida: This wild and rugged island is one of the most underrated destination in Bali. While it was once thought to be a place where black magic was practiced, the only magic you’ll find here is under the sea. Most divers come for the manta rays and mola mola. Shore and boat freedive training is available.
Pemuteran: A no-hassle beach town in Bali with coral gardens, plenty of reef life, and a single road that connects you from one warung to the next.
Or, head to the Gili Islands outside of Bali. The Gili Islands host warm water, coral reefs, and sea turtles galore.
A school is nothing without its instructors. Some freediving in centers, like Ousia Freediving Academy in Pemuteran, are led by one instructor. This means that the teaching experience is unlikely to change from course to course. Other schools have a rotation of instructors.
When you choose a freediving school, arrive early to try and chat to your prospective instructor. Let them know why you want to freedive and voice any hesitations you have so that you can feel at ease once your course begins. The right freediving instructor will help you feel comfortable and confident.
Watch out for rogue instructors: One of the most common complaints you’ll see on review sites at freediving schools are complaints about having someone who was not their instructor sign off on the certification training. This means that you take an entire course (AIDA, Molchanovs, SSI…) course with Steve as your instructor. When you get your certification card, Mike is listed as your trainer. What gives?
Sometimes, Steve is a certified trainer but not for the certification agency you signed up for. So, Steve might be allowed to teach SSI freediving but you wanted an AIDA course. Mike is an AIDA instructor, so he signs off on your card. While there are often only minor variations between these freediving agencies, it is an unethical practice. In some cases, Steve may be a talented freediver himself but not a certified instructor at all.
Ask: Are you certified to teach me this (specific) course?
Why do you want to freedive? Knowing your motivation will be a major asset during your training or course. Do you simply want to learn a new skill? Focus on meditation? Reach a depth goal? All reasons are valid–despite what the competition junkies or ‘I do it for inner peace’ freedivers may say.
However, an obsession with chasing certification requirements might create undue stress, making it more challenging to reach these certification goals. The right school has enough room for you to pursue the specific goal that you have.
One of the most popular new forms of freedive training in Bali focuses on freediving for surfers. Take this course from a freediving instructor who actually surfs.
What advice do you have for freedivers visiting Bali?