One question: Is scuba diving and snorkeling really worth it in Tulamben, Bali?
Yes… and it’s arguably the best diving in the world!
Tulamben is the most overlooked coastal village in Bali.
There aren’t hordes of tourist, thousands of bars or restaurants and – in all honesty – it’s pretty boring.
But that’s only at first glance…
The real action takes place beneath eerie black Bali Sea.
Tulamben (meaning “many stones”) is located on the north-eastern coastline of Bali, Indonesia.
At first glance, this small fishing village seems to have little to offer with only a few hotels, guest houses and restaurants scattered on one short strip of road.
However, if you dive a little deeper (pun intended) there is a brilliant underwater world waiting to be explored.
Diving and Snorkeling Tulamben
Scuba diving and snorkeling are the main attraction in Tulamben due to the warm water, mild north-west flowing currents, abundance of sea life, and underwater visibility up to 40 meters – all easily accessible right from the shore (no boats required).
Oh, you might also notice the USAT Liberty, an US Army Transport ship that now resides an easy 85 foot (25 m) swim from the shore.
Scuba and snorkelers can marvel at the over 460 feet (140 m) long shipwreck that ranging between 16 to 100 feet (5 – 30m) in-depth.
Originally torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942, the Liberty was towed inland to Tulamben be salvaged. The ultimate demise occurred in 1963 when Mt. Agung erupted and devastated much of eastern Bali.
Today the ship is covered with coral and is home to a variety of sea life.
It attracts up to 100 visitors of all skill level each day during the high season. Don’t be discouraged; crowds can be avoided if you dive early in the morning or at night.
Dive Sites of Tulamben
All at less than 100 meters depth, the following dive sites can be accessed from Tulamben: USAT Liberty Shipwreck, Paradise House Reef, Drop Off, and The River.
Further down the road towards the town of Amed are more dive sites Tukad Abu, Batu Kelebit, and Emerald Bay.
Image Credit: http://www.bidp-balidiving.com/diving/sites/tulamben/
What You’ll See
The coastline closest to shore is covered with black volcanic rocks and cobbles.
After 20 feet (6 m) in depth the seafloor changes to sand.
There is a variety of coral, sponges, gorgonians, frogfish, ghostpipe fish, and boxer crab. Reef and larger fish like Mola Mola (ocean sunfish) are spotted regularly. It is rare, but possible to spot barracudas, white-tip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.
It is estimated that over 300 species of fish live in the area.
When To Go
The water and weather conditions are almost near perfect from mid-March to July and October to November.
Tulamben is typically less humid than the rest of Bali. Average temperatures are 82-86°F (28-30°C). During the dry season (July to September) there is a slight breeze with cool evenings at around 71°F (22ºC). The wet season is November to March.
Getting There & Around
Denpasar International Airport is the closest airport in southern Bali. From there you can hire a taxi which takes about 2.5 hours or a bus which takes about 4 hours.
Diving is very inexpensive and prices can be negotiated if you book several dives or with your accommodations. Be sure to have them also throw in free snorkeling gear so you can enjoy the waters on your own time.
- Mid-range accommodations: $20-40
- Meals: $5-10
- Bottle of beer: $2
- Bring a lightweight long sleeve shirt and long pants for when the mosquitoes are out at dusk and dawn.
- Try Mi Goreng a tasty and cheap fried noodle dish.
- Negotiate free snorkeling gear or discounted dives with your accommodations.
- Don’t drink excessively the night before or the day of diving.
- Snorkel or scuba dive alone, bring a buddy.
- Expect much from the town. It’s pretty sleepy.