Jump to content

- - - - -

Bali or Similan Islands?

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 DesertEagle


    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 389 posts

Posted 20 March 2014 - 05:23 PM

Please help me choose a destination for later this year. I would like to spend a week diving in September or early November. This would be a trip for a solo diver. I have little experience with macro photography and I generally prefer to dive wide angle-friendly sites. My favorite subjects are schools of anthias and soft corals.

Tulamben, Bali - I would want to stay right in front of the Liberty wreck so that I could dive it at first light. The wreck must be fantastic but I'm not sure how colorful the other reefs in Bali are. My biggest fear is showing up on the reef expecting lots of fish and seeing mostly hard corals and very few fish.

In favor of Bali, the accommodations look luxurious for little money, and the Liberty wreck really attracts me. In the minus column are the unknowns about other reefs and the 3 flights necessary each way from Boston.

Similan Islands, Thailand- It hadn't occurred to me that I should visit. I'd say it was a combination of ignorance and watching The Hangover II. But recently Emirates started flights from Boston to Dubai. Then I realized that they fly to Phuket.

In favor of Phuket, it looks like soft coral heaven. I would prefer hotel-based diving but I could opt for a short liveaboard cruise. So where do I look? There are so many different areas, hotels, dive operators, etc. Is this a better or equal choice to Tumbalen
Canon 30D. Olympus SP-310, PT-030 housing with Sea & Sea 16mm lens. Sea&Sea YS-50 and YS-60 stobes. Heinrichs-Weikamp DA2 adapter. ULCS base & arms. A little Magic (original & auto).

#2 MikeVeitch


    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6308 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 20 March 2014 - 07:19 PM

Lots of soft corals on the Liberty, also just down the road in Amed, about 15-20 mins away by car.  A Bali safari sounds more like what you would be interested in.


If you are a fan of the wide angle then I would suggest 2 days diving Menjangan, based out of Pemuteran, then head over to Tulamben for the rest.  You can base yourself out of one of the resorts in front of the wreck and dive the wreck and reef for a day in Tulamben, then do day trips to Amed for a couple of days.


You could also try diving in Nusa Penida for hard corals and the chance to dive with Molas and Mantas, but, its rather chilly at that time of year, in the 60s whereas up north like Tulamben, Amed, and Menjangan it will be 80

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in the Lembeh Strait at NAD Lembeh with Doug Sloss in 2018
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in the ultimate classroom, Bali! or join us on a trip www.underwatertribe.com and www.baliuwphoto.com

Join us for a trip in Indonesia in Komodo or Raja Ampat

#3 sideways


    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 193 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Huntington Beach, CA

Posted 21 March 2014 - 05:26 AM

I've been to both spots and  prefer the Similians.  MUCH more soft, and hard coral than Bali.  Personaly, I will never stay on Bali again.  The traffic and trash is enough to kill it for me.  Tulamben is nice, of course like you mentioned the wreck is the highlight.  It will take you 3-4 hours to get to Tulamben from Denpasar.   Morning time dives are best like you mention, for the bumpheads ;)  As far as the other Tulamben sites, I thought they were OK.   Diving the Padang Bai area was not very good to us.  The best Bali diving for us was like Mike mentioned, Nusa Penida for the Manta's and Mola's. 


The Similians for me was just phenominal.  The diving was superior to Bali, and I found getting around was much easier.  Also, the food and nightlife was superior Phuket vs. Kuta.  Now, here's the unknown for me...  I went to the Similians in 2010.  I thought I heard that there was serious bleaching damage in '11.  Maybe someone can verify if this is true and how much damage was done.  IF it was real bad, then Bali might be the alternative.

Nikon D810, Aquatica housing, Sea&Sea strobes, Tokina 10-17mm, Nikon 105mm, 
Lumix GH5, Nauticam GH5 housing, 2x Sola 1200 lights.

My Flickr page.......https://www.flickr.c...s/29875870@N02/

Vimeo page.......https://vimeo.com/131607598

#4 MortenHansen


    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 230 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lembeh Island, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Posted 22 March 2014 - 06:34 AM

Yep, the bleaching did kill of quite a bit of corals in the Similans.


I would go Bali, and I agree with Mikes advice, find an operator who will take you out to places like Gili Selang (Amed) and you will have great soft and hard corals!


Have a look in my previous thread, there is a little 5min video of diving in Bali! :) 

Guest Relations Manager

Lembeh Resort

Rated #1 Dive-Resort in North Sulawesi 5 years in a row! 

#5 ajay



  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 69 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hong Kong

Posted 22 March 2014 - 06:46 AM

If I was doing Bali for a week, I'd plan almost exactly what Mike said: 2 days in Menjangan, then move to Tulamben for the rest of the trip, with a day trip or perhaps two (depending on how rough is the channel crossing) to Nusa Penida. For me, Bali is a level higher in dive quality and visibility than Similans (with another day or two diving the popular Phuket sites).

Of course, if I had to fly that long a distance to dive, I'd give up a bit more in travel time, and then spend my time in Raja Ampat :-).


Or, if you're averse to flying too much, maybe Palau?




#6 DesertEagle


    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 389 posts

Posted 22 March 2014 - 04:16 PM

My inclination is toward a week in the Similan Islands. At some point I really want to visit Komodo. Bali could be combined with that, but my current work schedule doesn't allow for it.


The choice now is day-based speedboat trips to Similan or a liveaboard. For the latter I would appreciate any recommendations of a reputable agent.

Canon 30D. Olympus SP-310, PT-030 housing with Sea & Sea 16mm lens. Sea&Sea YS-50 and YS-60 stobes. Heinrichs-Weikamp DA2 adapter. ULCS base & arms. A little Magic (original & auto).

#7 DesertEagle


    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 389 posts

Posted 23 March 2014 - 08:15 PM

Update- Just today I received a wedding invitation. An old friend and his fiance have booked a private boat for the week. It looks like Hin Daeng and Hin Muag. The wedding will take place at Ao Nang Bay.


Just a quick question- are there any issues with bringing a small amount of sudafed in case of sinus issues?

Edited by DesertEagle, 23 March 2014 - 08:16 PM.

Canon 30D. Olympus SP-310, PT-030 housing with Sea & Sea 16mm lens. Sea&Sea YS-50 and YS-60 stobes. Heinrichs-Weikamp DA2 adapter. ULCS base & arms. A little Magic (original & auto).

#8 okuma


    Great Hammerhead

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 884 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Anaheim, CA USA

Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:46 PM

We have been all over the south Pacific with sudafed and never had a problem.

Underwater Photography:
If it is so easy every one would be doing it!

Nikon D 500, Subal Housing, Inon Z 240 strobes.