After many years reading about Tulamben in magazines and books it became known to my horror a few years ago that this wonderful place was actually in Bali Indonesia. I had to get there as it is only a hop, skip and a jump from my home in Fremantle Western Australia. A number of my under water photographer friends have been there, some on numerous occasions and I had to get there too.
The flight to Denpasar Bali is 3.5hrs from Perth with a 3hr Car ride from Denpasar to Tulamben. A number of operators fly to Bali notably their national carrier Garuda Indonesia and Jet Star. On this occasion we flew Jet Star. Remember $25US for the Visa into Indonesia.
We were staying at Tulamben Wreck Diver Resort, which is in two parts. The resort complex is situated around the dive shop which is across the road from the USAT Liberty Wreck, and the Beach Front Bungalows, which are a little more up market and about 5 minutes from the main resort by car.
Facilities at the resort complex consisted of 6 double rooms, 3 beach villas, all with on suite. The rooms are of a generous size and cleaned each day. Coffee and Tea is available in the room together with a fully stocked bar fridge.
The Dive centre offers unlimited beach dives with guide on every dive. $35US for a single dive or $115US for unlimited dives a day. For further details on Tulamben Wreck Diver Resort please visit their web site:
The Wreck of the USAT Liberty is a walk of about 200 to 300 metres from the resort dive shop. Divers walk with their wet suits on and carry fins, weights, mask and camera if they are photographers. Tank setup is carried in the traditional way on the heads of local female porters. Amazingly, some two at a time and without complaint and with such poise. So much so without using their hands. Makes one feel quite inadequate. Discussing with my friends I travelled with, they believe this practice is local to Tulamben and they have not seen it anywhere else.......I have to say neither have I.
I was very excited to be diving Bali for the first time! So many people said it is a wonderful place to dive. I do believe them but unfortunately I do not recommend March!
I also expect to receive a large number of comments from my friends and others who have been to Tulamben to make additional comments on how good it was for them (Just to rub it in a little).
Due to the weather and time of year, conditions provided a challenging entry and exit from the beach, especially with expensive camera equipment! The beach is rocks and pebbles and at this time of year (although March is supposed to be the end of the wet season) with winds, the waves can prove quite troublesome even for the experienced divers. I must stress all the guides did a terrific job assisting divers in and out of the water.
Tulamben itself has 7 well known dive sites:
USAT Liberty Ship - depth from 10 to 30 metres, exceptional marine life providing both Wide Angle and Macro Opportunities for all levels of photographer.
The Drop Off – depth from 10 to 40 metres phenomenal wall dive, with wide range of corals all the way down to 60 metres (according to my more adventurous dive buddies).
Coral Gardens – depth from 5-15m providing an amazing array of corals, fish and critters. Batu Kalibit – depth from 10-25m, this is a comfortable drift dive. Provides wide variety of Nudibranchs.
Kubu Reef – depth from 10-30m. Abundant marine life and different corals.
Mystery Rocks – depth from 10 to 40 metres, this is one of the newer sites found, with wonderful terrace formations with different marine life on each level and even a fresh water cave.
Seraya – depth from 10 to 25 metres, Seraya has been defined as one of the best Macro Photography locations in the region if not the World. Many unusual critters can be found here.
Unfortunately, due to the weather we were only able to dive the Liberty and a single dive at the Drop Off and we did not get to sample the delights of Coral Gardens, Mystery Rocks, or Seraya all of which are well known suppliers of quality Macro subjects........It is fair to say that I have wet my Whistle and am craving more.........A lot lot more! I do not think this will be my last visit somehow.
Now for the important issues. How did I rate this trip? I think it is important to take the time of year into consideration as this was not the best time of year to visit this part of the world.
Resort Rating: 5 (Good)
Dive Operator Rating: 3 (Average)
Dive Guide Rating: 5 (Excellent)
Macro Diving Activity Rating: 5 (Excellent) Marine Life Rating: 5 (Excellent)
Visibility Rating: 3-7 metres
Overall Rating: 4 (Good)
Resort and Dive Operator Name:
Tulamben Wreck Diver Resort