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Best Snorkeling Spots in Amed Guide & Tours for Beginners

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About Amed

Amed is situated in the southernmost corner of Bali in the shadow of the holy mount Agung. The area has stunning vistas of mountains and some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in Bali. Despite that, Amed feels like the town gets missed by most visitors to Bali. The only two exceptions are French and divers, who seem to have found this paradise-like corner of the island. Frankly, the lack of tourists feels surprising to me having in mind that Bali is arguably the world’s top destination in its category and Amed could be the best snorkeling area from the beach on the whole island. Of course, all these reasons just make Amed even more attractive. It is very easy to find a frontline hotel with access to the beach with world-class snorkeling for a relatively small price.

Snorkeling is great across the area of Amed but there are five main snorkeling spots around the town: Japanese Shipwreck, USAT Liberty Shipwreck, Lipah Beach, Jemeluk Beach, and Amed Beach. Different locations require different levels of skills and accessibility. Therefore if you have a limited time in Amed, it is important to do your research before picking the best spots for you. Despite being located in relatively close proximity to each other, they are different and offer different experiences. For example, Amed Beach is your best shot to see a sea turtle but the coral reef is not as impressive as elsewhere. You can also hire a snorkeling day trip around Amed by boat, this way you gonna be sure you are not gonna miss a single spot in a relatively short time.

As a rule, the most beautiful corals could be found in the least popular places. Conclusions? Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Jemeluk Beach

It is famous for its coral temple and some other attempts to create artificial coral formations but with no great success in my opinion. I have to tell you that I’m a fan of natural things, and these are nowhere close to being as impressive as the coral reef of Jemeluk Beach itself. Nevertheless, many people find these structures attractive, therefore it is considered the trademark of the beach.

Snorkeling from the beach is very typical here. Jemeluk Beach is covered by black sand and stones, once you get into the water you have to trespass the sand area until you reach the coral reef. Beyond it, the depths increase dramatically. Further on, only the divers go, and on the area accessible to both snorkelers and divers stands the coral temple. For snorkeling, it is best to stay on the edge of the coral reef because swimming above might feel uncomfortable to some people. Snorkeling in Jemeluk should be possible even on the low tide but with extra carefulness. I found the safe passage across the coral reef on the right edge of the beach in front of a small shrine.

So far, corals doesn’t seem to be interested in living on the coral temple as expected. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Highlights

The popularity of Jemeluk Beach is leading to its demise. A lot of the local coral reef is dead or severely damaged. It is still a great place to see a rather rare species of fish but the beach is just a shadow of what it must have been. The fate of Jemeluk Beach reminds me of a rock star, its success was its demise life for so many others. But that is just my opinion, if you want to know more, it is best to judge the situation yourself.

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There are plenty of Blue Seastars in Jemeluk Beach and they are also noticeable in Amed Beach. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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Gallery of Jemeluk Beach

Some areas of the coral reef around Jemeluk Beach are hard to watch. At this stage, it is hard to tell wherever it is bleaching events, sunscreen, or the physical damage caused by humans, that killed the local corals. Nevertheless, given how many divers come to this, I expect deeper waters are hiding a healthy coral ecosystem. The overspill of beautiful and rather rare fishes has to come from somewhere. In this gallery, you can see just a tiny bit of the marine life that Jemeluk Beach has to offer.


After your snorkeling session, Amed Beach is a great place to enjoy sunsets over Mount Agung. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Amed Beach

Amed Beach, or Amed Pyramids snorkeling spot, is another popular place to snorkel. It is a less popular and less colorful beach compared to Jemeluk but it has one unique feature to it – Hawksbill Sea Turtle. These gentle creatures are common visitors to Amed Beach but not plentiful. Out of my four snorkeling sessions I managed to see only one sea turtle. Other than these peaceful reptiles, lookout for plenty of colorful fishes and other sea life.

The coral reef in Amed Beach extends from somewhere around Amed Beach Villa to BARracuda and beyond. Most people do snorkeling in front of Warung Amed Pyramids but I would suggest doing your snorkeling with help of currents. If the tide is withdrawing, I would recommend entering the beach on the western side of this range because the currents will help you to reach another end of it. If the tide is rising – do the opposite. Without fins, it might be very hard to swim against the current.

There are many people trying to see Hawksbill sea turtles. The more people the less turtles. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Highlights

Entering the water in Amed Beach is not difficult because it gets deep quite quickly and the corals are not as plentiful as on other beaches in the area.

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Gallery of Amed Beach

Lipah Beach

Situated just 3.5 km / 1.86 mi from Jemeluk Beach, Lipah offers a similar experience just without any man-made perks and such apparent damage of exploitation. The corals in the area close to the beach are unfortunately bleached but if you continue further, there is a rich marine ecosystem living around where the coral reef drops off to the endless blue depths of the ocean. Look out for sea fan corals around whom the marine life circles in a manner worthy of David Attenborough’s documentary.

Like anywhere else around Amed, accessing the best parts of the coral reef might be difficult during the low tide. Your best shot to access the outer layer of corals and other marine life in Lipah Beach is by Vienna Beach Resort. The Eastern part of the beach also has fewer waves, therefore as a general rule, it is the best location for snorkeling in this part of the area.

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Highlights

Scrawled Butterflyfish, Amed. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Japanese Wreck Snorkeling Spot

One of the most popular spots for snorkelers around Amed is the Japanese Wreck. As the name suggests it is a sunken Japanese freighter from World War II, Ryuko Maru. The ship is located just off the coast not too far from Amed. Japanese Wreck is home to an abundance of corals, attracting a wide variety of marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. From all the aquatic beauty the site has to offer, the most distinctive is the mesmerizing soft corals like pens, sea fans, and the majestic Dendronephtya.

The sunken Japanese WWII freighter is about 20 m / 66 ft long, making it a very diverse site to explore. Some areas of the wreck are easy to access and are suitable for snorkelers of all abilities. The site is also popular with scuba divers because parts of the sunken ship go to depths up to 20 m / 60 ft.

Highlights

The area of the wreck is marked by black buoys and could be reached from the beach. If you don’t trust your ability of swimming, hiring a snorkeling tour boat is a good idea, which also could be used as transport to the famous snorkeling site from other areas of Amed.

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Sea fans are relatively common around Amed. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The USAT Liberty Snorkeling Spot

The USAT Liberty wreck is another popular snorkeling spot in Amed. Some say it is the most popular snorkeling and diving spot in the whole of Bali. I’m not sure about that but the site is definitely a must-visit. Due to its reputation, the waters around the shipwreck might get uncomfortably crowded, therefore consider visiting the spot early or late in the day.

This wreck was a World War II U.S. cargo ship that was torpedoed in 1942 by the Japanese forces and sunk off the northern coast of Bali. Little did they know that this vessel will continue its life in a totally different way, together with its colorful coral and abundant marine life. The wreck is around 85 meters long and 10 meters deep with various passages, making it a great spot to explore. It is also home to a variety of tropical fish, nudibranchs, sharks, and even the occasional sea turtle.

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Highlights

Blackdotted Pufferfish, Amed. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Other Beaches of Amed

One thing I can tell from my experience about snorkeling is that if you look well, the most serene and beautiful corals lie often somewhere off the beaten path. The explanation for that is rather simple – people don’t respect the fragile coral reefs. First thing, sunscreen affects corals a lot and people don’t seem to care as much as they should. Therefore, generally, the fewer people visit the place, the less it is the coral reef is damaged. I’m not even talking about the physical damage, which is caused directly by people or by boats.

Usually, the main problem with random locations is getting access to the coral reef. Sometimes it is hard to get to the beach itself, sometimes it is difficult to swim through the first layer of the corals. It is very unlikely that you are going to get to any of these unpopular places, but don’t be afraid to book hotels on the first line, further from the main beaches. I had a great time snorkeling from Bali Dream House about 1km/0.62 mi from Jemeluk Beach. Some of the most interesting encounters happened just a dozen meters from my hotel room. My wife even managed to spot a Clownfish! So don’t be afraid to experiment, below you can see some pictures from the off-beaten path beaches.

Gallery from Unpopular Beaches

Mount Agung from Amed beach. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Map of Bali

Getting around Amed

Like everything, moving around Amed is relatively cheap even by Bali standards. Taxi services are similar to anywhere else on the island.

By Scooter

If you have some experience, moving around with a scooter might be the best option. The distances around Amed are short and the roads are not too bad as well. Ask your hotel for a scooter rental.

By boat

There are quite a few boats around Amed, it is a fisherman’s village after all. Getting a boat will be easy on any major beach or by asking your hotel. If you are afraid of random service quality, you can book your trip in advance online.

By tour

There are two options for a tour: One is booking driver services to get you around; The second one is Amed snorkeling tour by boat. If you book via GetYourGuide, you’ll get a guarantee of quality service, a cancellation option, and a free refund if you are not satisfied with the results.

Jukung – the typical Balinese boat. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Amed Snorkeling Tours

Red coral sea fan in Banutan Beach. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Personal Experience

Snorkeling in Bali and the surrounding islands should be a real joy to anyone, especially if you haven’t seen a healthy coral reef ecosystem before. Even so, I imagine that the number of fishes and corals are not the same anymore even here, but that applies to almost all natural environment worldwide. So far, based on my experience, I didn’t expect to see a coral reef without bleached corals anymore, but I guess the “bright spots” of resistant coral ecosystems are real after all. The rising temperatures are making the dangerous heat waves too frequent for corals to bounce back in time. This emerging phenomenon is killing off entire ecosystems around the globe. Happily, as I mentioned before, this is not the case in Bali, which is rather surprising given the popularity of the island among tourists. By this time, hopefully, we all know that most of the sunscreens are killing off corals as well.

Amed is absolutely a must-visit on your trip to Bali if you love snorkeling or exploring natural environments in general. Jemeluk Beach and Amed Beach area could be enough for most visitors, but Lipah Beach and Shipwrecks are also close. All of them could be done within a day with a boat tour but I would recommend spending at least three days. You might also want to slow down and enjoy the paradise-like setting on a lower gear for a change.

Bali Dream House. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

What Can I Do to Protect Bali Coral Reefs?

All content and photos by Alis Monte, unless stated differently. If you want to collaborate, contact me on info@ctdots.eu Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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