Living on the Island of the Gods, with its stunning beaches, verdant rice terraces, and vibrant culture, has been a dream come true. But like many tropical paradises, Bali isn’t without its challenges. One such challenge is its susceptibility to earthquakes.

As an expat living here, I’ve experienced a few tremors and have taken the time to understand the geological intricacies of the island. Let’s delve into the world of earthquakes in Bali.

Bali Earthquakes: How Frequent and How Strong?

Bali, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is no stranger to seismic activities. The region experiences regular earthquakes due to the tectonic movements between the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates. The majority of these earthquakes are minor tremors, but a few can be of significant magnitude, potentially causing damage.

Earthquakes in Bali

Bali’s Historical Earthquakes

Here are some notable earthquakes that have left an impact on the island:

2002: While not an earthquake, the aftershocks of the powerful earthquake off the Sumatra coast were felt in Bali, creating panic among residents and tourists.

1917: One of the most devastating earthquakes, with a magnitude of 6.6, struck the northern part of Bali, killing over 1500 people and destroying thousands of homes and temples.

2018: A series of quakes rattled the neighboring island of Lombok, with aftershocks felt in Bali. The most powerful one, with a magnitude of 6.9, caused damage to buildings in Bali, and many residents and tourists experienced panic.

1976: An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 resulted in significant damage to Denpasar and surrounding areas.

Bali’s Earthquake Preparedness

Bali’s rapid development in the past few decades has made strides in improving building standards, incorporating earthquake-resistant designs. Hotels and modern buildings, especially in tourist areas, follow stricter regulations to ensure the safety of visitors and residents.

However, traditional Balinese homes and older structures might not adhere to these updated standards, making them more vulnerable.

The local government has been working tirelessly to educate the public about earthquake preparedness. Drills are regularly conducted in schools, offices, and communities to prepare the locals for such events. They are taught to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during an earthquake, which can make a significant difference during a seismic event.

Earthquakes in Bali

What to do During an Earthquake

  1. Stay Indoors: If you’re inside, stay there until the shaking stops.
  2. Drop, Cover, Hold: Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, cover your head and neck, and hold on.
  3. Stay Away from Windows: Glass can shatter and cause injuries.
  4. If Outdoors: Find a clear spot, away from buildings, trees, and utility wires. Drop to the ground.
  5. After the Earthquake: Be prepared for aftershocks and be cautious of damaged buildings or infrastructure.

Bali Tsunami From Earthquakes

Tsunamis are prone in the event of underwater earthquakes. Given its location within the Pacific Ring of Fire, the region sees significant tectonic activity, including both earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Underwater earthquakes, especially those occurring in the tectonic subduction zones around Indonesia, can displace large volumes of water, leading to tsunamis.

Bali’s proximity to the Sunda Trench (also known as the Java Trench), where the Indo-Australian Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate, makes it particularly susceptible. Tsunamis generated in this area can reach Bali’s shores in a very short time, giving little warning to residents and visitors.

It’s important to note that while earthquakes are relatively common in the region, not all of them lead to tsunamis. The potential for a tsunami depends on several factors, including the depth, magnitude, and nature of the earthquake.

For those living in or visiting Bali, it’s essential to be aware of tsunami evacuation routes, especially if you’re in coastal areas. Local authorities and some hotels in coastal regions have marked these routes, and it’s a good idea to familiarize oneself with them if staying near the beach.



Living in Bali is an incredible experience, but it’s essential to remain informed and prepared. Earthquakes are a part of life here, as they are in many parts of the world. With the right knowledge and precautions, you can ensure your safety and continue to enjoy the beauty and culture of this enchanting island.


The Bali Guide