Tulamben in Bali is located on the north-east coast, and is a famous diving destination. It is one of the richest marine bio-geographic zones in the world and contains a stunning diverse underwater eco-system. This area offers great diving conditions suitable for any level of diver, especially underwater photographers who like wide angle and macro diving style in the one area.
On many occasions you may see mola-mola (sunfish), whale sharks, manta rays or reef sharks. But for sure you will see many colourful corals, gorgonians, tropical fish, nudibranchs and many macro species that live there.
I stayed at the Liberty Dive Resort for 5 days, 4 nights with unlimited diving and I did 22 dives in total. It cost US$ 775.- for 6 nights for a single room with air conditioning, hot water, wifi, daily breakfast, transfer to and from the airport or any hotel in Bali, 2 boat dives, nitrox dives and own dive guide.
The trip to Bali was an extension to my trip to Raja Ampat on 18-23 April 2011. However, if I had flown from Sydney it would have been direct to Denpasar (Bali Airport) and would take less than 7 hours. After I arrived in Denpasar the resort car was waiting for me outside and took 3 hours to get to Tulamben.
Liberty Dive Resort is a new resort located in the village of Tulamben, about 150 meters from the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. My room was nice and clean, with air-conditioning, fan, en-suite bathroom with hot and cold water, refrigerator and mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities. There was also a verandah with table and chairs overlooking a swimming pool. One of the best parts was to have a massage after 2-3 dives each day which cost rp80'000 or US$10-15.
I always started my first dive around 6am on the wreck, then breakfast and rest by the swimming pool. The second dive was around 10am then lunch and the third dive was around 2:30pm for the nudibranch hunts followed by a massage. After that it depended on how I felt, sometimes another dive at 4:30pm or a night dive at 6:30pm.
Almost every dive site is from the shore and each dive was around 50-70 minutes. Basically I prepared my diving gear at the resort dive shop, then staff members would put my gear on a motorbike and leave it at the beach entrance. Me and my dive guide walked down to the beach with my camera which took about 3 minutes. I put my gear on and walked on the rock beach for about 50 meters to the dive sites.
The "USAT Liberty Shipwreck" is one of the famous wreck dives. The wreck is 120m long and pretty broken up. It lies approximately 30m offshore almost parallel to the beach, the shallow part is at 5 meters and the deepest part is at 30 meters, and great for all levels of diving experience. Every part of the wreck offers a great mixture of both big fish and small creatures, like beautiful corals, sponges, gorgonian fans, schools of jacks, giant barracuda, giant groupers, blue spotted sting rays, bumphead parrot fish, moray eels, leafy scorpion fish, frog fish, pygmy seahoses and nudibranchs.
The "Drop Off" is a great landscape sculpted with many overhanging rocks and giant gorgonian sea fans which descend down to more than 70 meters. I enjoyed the cleaning station under the overhang where the cleaning shrimps were cleaning the emperor angelfish, yellow-faced angelfish or blue-banded angelfish.
The "Coral Garden" is between the Liberty wreck and the "Drop Off". It starts at a depth of 3-15 meters and has beautiful healthy hard and soft coral and is also a great spot for snorkeling. This site is great for practicing photography skill, it is a shallow dive and there are so many subjects to take, like peacock mantis shrimps, blue ribbon eels, ghost pipefish, cuttlefish, octopus and a couple of times I spotted black tip reef sharks.
The "Slope" is between the Liberty wreck and the coral garden. This dive site is the best for nudibranch hunts. I saw so many different nudibranchs on this dive site crawling around everywhere. You can descend down to more than 60 meters, but the best marine life is around the 10-20 meters mark.
"Seraya Secrets" is about 10 minutes drive from the resort. I stayed there for 2 dives after the first morning wreck dive and breakfast. The resort organised a car to dropped me off and picked me up after the dive.
"Seraya Secrets" is the best for macro diving in this area, the deeper areas are from 9-35 meters. There is so much macro marine life here like harlequin shrimps, frogfish, seahorses, nudibranchs and more.
I would recommend to stay close to the wreck and start the first dive very early like 6am, get your wide angle lens out as you will see schools of bumphead parrot fish and schools of jacks for sure. Also it can be very crowded on the wreck later as the day trippers from Bali will arrive around 11am. I also recommend wearing boots as there is a rocky beach entry and exit, it can cause problems with bare feet walking to and from.
The visibility was usually 15-25m, lower when it rained. The air temp was 25-32 degrees, the water temp was 24-28 degrees. The best time to dive at Tulamben is August to November. Generally December through to early April is not good conditions due to the strong winds and rough seas. Also, if you need a visa, it is better to get it before you land here. You might get stuck for hours as lots of flights land at the same time.