The Bali Sea is sometimes grouped with Flores Sea for oceanographic purposes, however in some nautical charts, Bali Sea is written as a distinct sea for navigation. The sea has an area of 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) and a maximum depth of 1,590 m (5,217 ft).
The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) defines the Bali Sea as being one of the waters of the East Indian Archipelago. The IHO defines its limits as follows:
On the North. A line from the Western Paternoster Island to the East point of Sepandjang and thence through this island to the West point of Gedeh Bay on the South coast of Kangean (7°01′S 115°18′E / 7.017°S 115.300°E / -7.017; 115.300).
On the West. A line from the West point of Gedeh Bay, Kangean Island, to Tg Sedano, the Northeast extreme of Java and down the East coast to Tg Bantenan, the Southeast extreme of the island.
On the South. A line from Tanjong Banenan through the Southern points of Balt [sic] and Noesa Islands to Tanjong Bt Gendang, the Southwest extreme of Lombok, and its South coast to Tanjong Ringgit the Southeast extreme, thence a line to Tanjong Mangkoen (9°01′S 116°43′E / 9.017°S 116.717°E / -9.017; 116.717) the Southwest extreme of Soembawa.
On the East. The West and North coasts of Soembawa as far East as Tanjong Sarokaja (8°22′S 117°10′E / 8.367°S 117.167°E / -8.367; 117.167), thence the Western limit of Flores Sea [A line from Tg Sarokaja to the Western Paternoster island (7°26′S 117°08′E / 7.433°S 117.133°E / -7.433; 117.133)].
The circulation and mass water properties in Bali Sea are a continuation from Flores Sea to the Java Sea in the north. In oceanographic, Bali Sea is concerned with the Indonesian Throughflow coming from Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, the flow of which are mostly passing through Bali Strait and Lombok Strait.
In a recorded tsunami history, Bali Sea observed several tsunamis. The 1815 Tambora eruption (scale 7 of Volcanic Explosivity Index) formed tsunamis on 22 September 1815 at coordinate 8°00′S 115°12′E / 8.00°S 115.20°E / -8.00; 115.20 and three years later (8 September 1818) from subsequent volcanic activities at coordinate 7°00′S 117°00′E / 7.0°S 117.0°E / -7.0; 117.0. Two more tsunamis were recorded in 1857 and 1917 with maximum height of 3 meters (9.8 ft) and 2 meters (6.6 ft) respectively.