BALI DIVING INDONESIA

BEYOND BALI – FINDING THE UNDERWATER BUDDHA

September 22, 2016
FINDING THE UNDERWATER BUDDHA - NUSA CENINGAN

So, you’ve come to Bali for the quintessential Eat, Pray, Love experience. You’ve done a photoshoot at the picturesque Tegalalang Rice Terraces, you’ve had something stolen by the agile primates of the monkey forest, and maybe you’ve even contracted a little “Bali Belly.” Though you’re probably starting to feel better now that you’ve enjoyed copious amounts of Mie Goreng or Acai bowls (whatever floats your boat). But, you’re still looking for that unique and off the beaten path experience! Well, I have the place for you to visit, the Ceningan Channel, home to some gorgeous coral walls and the underwater Buddha.

THE UNDERWATER BUDDHA

The underwater Buddha, stupas, as well as smaller statues of Ceningan are a sight to behold. Now, before a second internet rumour begins, this is basically a submerged art exhibit and maybe a conservation project. I’ll get to the background of this location and the potential inspiration for it in Pemuteran a little later. But, first I think I have to explain how invigorating it was to skindive next to these beautiful statues.

A few weeks ago, I saw an image of some divers and snorkellers in front of an underwater Buddha. It was so intriguing and unique, I just knew I had to go there. Underwater ruins aren’t terribly common and when I discovered how close it was to the next island I planned to visit, it seemed like a given that I’d go for a dive there.

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Many internet commentators said the Buddha was near Bali, then a few others claimed it could be seen on a drift dive of the Ceningan Wall. Turns out it’s in the much shallower and more accessible Ceningan Channel. I have to admit, getting here wasn’t the easiest task from the island of Nusa Lembongan (30-40 minute speedboat ride from Sanur in Bali).

Many of the locals were confused when I asked to go see the underwater Buddha in Ceningan. Most tourists come to Lembongan to swim, dive or snorkel with the manta rays. Having seen mantas in Hawaii and Derawan (both times were very recent) I wanted a different experience. Over the course of my first few days in Bali, I showed photographs of the Buddha to people in restaurants and homestays, as well as a local guide I had met in the hope of finding someone who knew the location and would take me. Finally, the guide introduced me to a spear fisher who happened to go past this location weekly. His uncle then agreed to help me get there!

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ORIGINS OF THE UNDERWATER BUDDHA

It turns out that after looking into the origins of the Underwater Buddha more closely I learned that the Pemuteran garden came first! Pemuteran is a beautiful fishing village on the northern coast of Bali. Considering that most people rarely venture farther north than Ubud it would be a wonderful refuge from the crowds. Particularly given the shallow depth of the Ceningan channel Buddha, I would highly suggest a visit to Bali Sea Rovers. It’s there where one can have an incredible once in a lifetime diving experience in an underwater garden

From Paul Turley’s video above: “The underwater ‘Temple Garden’ just off ‘Temple Wall’ dive site in Pemuteran. Part of the ‘Reef Gardeners’ a social/environmental project created in 2005. The main section of the ‘Temple Garden’ is down at 30mtrs, vis was hazy an light wasn’t great. Still I was quiet impressed with the results. No tweaking of the original footage. The ‘Temple Garden’ is just that. It is not a real temple or the ‘Atlantis of the East’ as one newspaper claimed. And it is definitely not a theme park as another claimed. It is made primarily of natural stone carved locally and makes a very good medium for coral growth, as can be seen.”

After doing a little more research and learning it’s not an ancient site, I finally understood why people were so confused. This isn’t a sacred place that has been around for generations and would be known to inhabitants of Lembongan or Ceningan.

Now more well known by name, the Pemuteran Temple Garden was actually built by Captain Paul M. Turley, Chris Brown, as well as a number of other local businesses and artists. I should note, I’m not sure if this place in Ceningan Channel is an imitation of that or a second conservation installation by Turley, Brown etc. But, regardless of when these statues were sunk, the site is still very beautiful and worth a visit if you are in this area.

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HOW TO FIND THE UNDERWATER BUDDHA

For people who like tours and groups, there’s now an organized snorkel or underwater scooter tour:  The day tour costs $95 USD or Rp.1.330.000. But, I would encourage people to use a local guide who can take them to the area for a less crowded and more relaxed underwater experience! This is something you could easily combine with other snorkeling destinations in the area. You won’t be disappointed as you’ll have the chance to snorkel with a beautiful manmade 2.5-meter-tall (8.2 ft) statue of Buddha in the middle of several stupas!

The Buddha is facing North and is located at the entrance to the Ceningan channel. To arrive here I took a small local boat departing from the mangrove forest on Lembongan Island. For more information on price points and tours you can contact Hendra Sakti (sakti_tour@yahoo.com, IG @sakti_tour) who resides on Bali, but regularly travels from there to Lembongan. Or reach out to Wayan Nane (IG @nanewayan).

Coming from the Mangrove Center on Nusa Lembongan one would enter the channel between Lembongan and Ceningan, it is near the end of the Ceningan Island on the north end. I’d highly advise against trying to swim into the channel independently as there are many boats, also it can be quite rough. So, hire a local guide with a boat and they can help you get right up to the underwater buddha. If you’d like to depart from Ceningan, you must simply cross the bridge from Lembongan and turn left then head to the north end of the island.


Do you have other tips on how to get to these Underwater Buddhas in Bali? Please share with our readers in the comments below!

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We Are Travel Girls Contributor Tatyana Ray of CurlsAroundTheWorld.com
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37 Comments

  • Reply Kasia September 22, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Wow such an incredible pictures of Buddha under water, makes me wanna go there too 🙂

  • Reply Laura September 22, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    I read about these underwater statues after I left Bali. I wish I could have experienced this on my trip! Looks so awesome!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls September 25, 2016 at 1:54 am

      Maybe on your next trip Laura!

    • Reply Anonymous April 28, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Go again Laura..such an easy fix! ?

  • Reply SheIng September 23, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Cool!
    Been in Ceningan more than 10 years ago, and still no activity for this one.
    Should try it next time when visiting Bali.
    Thanks for the information 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls September 25, 2016 at 1:54 am

      We are in Bali now and excited to go and see this for ourselves!

  • Reply Kathy October 20, 2016 at 8:21 am

    My friend and I checked out the underwater buddah’s – SO cool!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls October 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Thats awesome – let us know if you have any other advice for how to find it for our readers!

    • Reply Lin Katharina August 5, 2017 at 3:45 am

      Hi kathy! I am thinking of going to the underwater buddha temple. how to get there? where? snorkeling or diving? price – you remember? thanks in advance for ur reply KT

      • Reply We Are Travel Girls August 5, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        Hi Lin, We are just putting together an update to this post with more information for getting to the Buddha that should help you! Thanks for reading, Becky

  • Reply Ray October 20, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    They have something similar like this near Cancun, Mexico. The purpose for these “underwater gardens” is to help rejuvenate the coral. Awesome that this Buddha exists as I am planning a trip to Bali in 2017 and would definitely love to check this out!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls October 21, 2016 at 1:26 am

      Thats a great insight Ray! Enjoy Bali, its such a wonderful place and some great dive spots!

  • Reply INDONESIA'S NUSA LEMBONGAN, CENINGAN AND PENIDA IN 4 DAYS | We Are Travel Girls December 6, 2016 at 6:45 am

    […] The snorkel tour will then take you on to various spots around Nusa Penida, one spot being a cool coral wall and then onto the Ceningan Channel. If you are interested in finding the underwater buddha check out our past post Beyond Bali – Finding The Underwater Buddha. […]

  • Reply Diane Slone April 24, 2017 at 2:40 am

    My 13-year old and I just did a private snorkelling day with Newbro out of Nusa Lembongan last week. We wanted to swim with Mantas, as we never had before. Beyond that, I just said we wanted to do things where there wouldn’t be a crowd of people – the underwater Buddha was amazing! And I totally recommend Newbro as a guide for any snorkelling you might want to do out of Lembongan!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls April 27, 2017 at 6:55 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting Diane! Nusa Lembongan is so beautiful,its great to hear that you were able to get off the beaten path when you went snorkelling. We swam with the mantas too but didn’t make it to the Buddha – next time! Thanks for the recommendations. XO, Becky

    • Reply KEILAH KEISER June 20, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Diane,

      Do you by chance have the contact information for your guide Newbro or know where to find him? I will be going to the Nusa islands in July and would love to experience the swim with mantas and the underwater Buddha!

  • Reply Keilah Keiser May 12, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Thanks so much for sharing! I am going to Bali in a couple months and would like to spend some time one Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida. Would you be able to share your contact information for your guide that took you to see the underwater Buddha and any other great dive sites? I would love to go see this for myself.

  • Reply Martin June 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Hi girls,

    Thank you for the post. Really excited for you how you take on the random I-am-gonna-find-my-place-either-way experience. Well done girls!
    So to understand correctly the location, is the channel between nusa lembogan and Nusa cenningan? And I guess once we get to lembogan, we pray for luck asking around for someone to take us there 🙂
    Thank you for reply.

    We are heading to Bali for the third time. so am looking forward to explore new places 🙂

  • Reply Ellie June 19, 2017 at 2:51 am

    I’m going snorkelling tomorrow. One of the stops is Budda Bay. After reading this article I’m very excited to go!

  • Reply Luca July 5, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Hi there! 🙂
    Anyone knows how I can find newbro? Contact or something? I will be in lembongan and penida… someone knows from where I should reach the underwater Buddha garden? From penida or lembongan? Thanks so much for all the infos. God bless you all 🙂 ??

  • Reply Offbeat Bali| 5 Quirky Things To Do In Bali August 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

    […] in the deep waters of Pemuteran Bay and explore the Underwater Temple […]

  • Reply Kirsten January 14, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Hi, I’m going to Bali now in March. Do you know if you could go from Bali to this underwater Buddha as like a day trip or not really? Sorry if that’s a stupid question.

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls January 16, 2018 at 12:59 am

      Hi Kirsten, You can go over to Nusa Lembongan for the day as the boat is only half an hour from Nusa Dua. However, I would recommend staying on the island since it is easier to organising snorkel tours etc when you are there. Plus, Nusa Lembongan, Penida and Ceningan are beautiful with lots more to see! You can also tag on snorkelling withe Manta Rays whilst there. You can read more about the islands on this article https://wearetravelgirls.com/indonesias-nusa-lembongan-ceningan-penida-4-days/. Thanks for reading and commenting. Becky – Founder,We Are Travel Girls

  • Reply Hoa Nguyen February 3, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Hi Guys,

    I spent the New Year Eve in Bali and I took the tour with Hendra Sakti (sakti_tour@yahoo.com, IG @sakti_tour) for Buddha temple garden. It was amazing. Thank you so much for your information.

  • Reply Laure March 2, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Hi! So their are buddahs in Ceningan channel but also in Pemuteran, is that correct? Great info btw!

  • Reply Life of Hoi May 24, 2018 at 1:20 am

    This is really good and full of vital information! Thanks so much 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls May 24, 2018 at 5:00 am

      Glad you found the post useful! Thanks for reading! X, Vanessa, Founder – We Are Travel Girls

  • Reply Maria May 27, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Hi there,
    I’m so confused, maybe you can clear that up for me. Nusa Lembongan is an Island southeast of Bali while Pemuteran is at the north shore of Bali. Wouldn’t it make more sense to start from Pemuteran Beach instead of Nusa Lembongan and going all around Bali? Or is there a second Pemuteran?

  • Reply Franziska Zschau July 30, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Hey 🙂 I want to visit the underwater buddha. I would love to book a local guide. Do you have any recomandations? I saw that you recommended saki_tours. Do they offer small group tours? How do I get there when I am at Nusa Penida? Do you know where I can find the underwater buddha by googlemaps? so many questions 😀 i hope you can help me 🙂 have a nice day

  • Reply Steven October 2, 2018 at 3:54 am

    They have been removed. 🙁

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