Mola Mola or giant sunfish are one of the most incredible creatures to see in waters around Bali. The best place to see them is off the coast of Candisasa, East Bali, where Lotus Bungalows is located. If you’d like to dive with these fish, read on to find out more about the species, and plan when and where to see them.
What are Mola mola?
You might know Mola mola by the name ocean sunfish or even common mola. Its closest relatives are pufferfish and porcupinefish. This fish is the heaviest bony fish in the world, weighing up to a massive 1,000kg!
Their strange flattened shape gives them their name, as mola is the latin word for millstone. Seeing these giant fish in the wild is an incredible experience. Their sheer size and odd shape is both eerie and beautiful at the same time.
Where to see Mola Mola
The reefs surrounding Candidasa are a favorite spot for these massive ocean fish due to the cleaning stations where banner-fish and emperor angelfish eat the parasites out of their mouth and gills.
Further across the channel, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are also a great places to see these wonderful creatures. Gangga Divers at Lotus Bungalows know the best places to see sunfish and do their research to give you the best chance of seeing the Mola mola when they are around.
Mola mola spend the majority of their time swimming at depths of 200 – 600 metres but they can also be seen basking in a horizontal position on the surface of the water. This is where the name sunfish comes from. They soak up the warmth of the sun before heading back to the darker, cooler depths.
When to see Mola Mola
Between the months of August and October, the cold currents shift north from Antarctica and giant sunfish follow the cooler water. At this time of year water temperatures can dip as low as 18-20 degrees off the south coast of Nusa Penida. Long wetsuits 5-7 mm are recommended during these months.
This is around when rainy season starts in Bali. The winds of the dry season have gone and the seas are generally calmer. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any currents. The strait between Bali and Lombok is extremely deep and experiences some of the strongest tidal flows on earth. This means this area is not ideal for beginner divers.
Diving with Mola mola
Many divers want to see Mola mola around Bali, which can be detrimental to them. To combat this a code of conduct when diving with Manta rays and Mola mola was developed by researchers and experts in the early 2000’s.
In this code of conduct you will find the minimum distances you should stay away from the animals in certain situations, and also advice on how not to disturb them. These tips will allow you to view natural Mola mola behavior. You can find the full code of content here.
Would you like to dive with Mola mola?
There is no guarantee that you will see Mola mola while diving in Bali, but follow these guidelines and you have a good chance. Comment in the message section if you dream of getting up close and personal with these sea giants.