If you are an amateur diver and are planning to do an introductory dive in Bali, then I recommend a spectacular wreck diving site at Tulamben. This is a great diving site for beginners and one can experience seeing lots of marine life at a small depth. I personally love and enjoy the wreck diving as the marine life is abundant and colourful.
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Where is Tulamben?
Tulamben is a small village on the north-east coast of Bali. According to Wikipedia, the village Tulamben got its name from the word ‘batulambih‘, which means ‘many stones’. The reference is given to the frequent eruptions from Mount Agung.
How to get to Tulamben?
Taxi or Drive – Tulamben is around 80 kilometres from Ubud. The best and quickest way to get to Tulamben is by a taxi or a car/bike. The taxi is the expensive mode of transport and it generally costs around USD 75 to USD 90 one way.
Ensure to haggle on the quoted price with the taxi driver.
Hiring bikes are very easy in Bali and that is the most preferred way of commuting.
Buses – There is a shuttle bus that runs between Ubud and Tulamben. The cost of the bus fare is about USD 18 one way. Perama Tour and Travel is the operator is that runs these shuttle buses. The bookings can be made on their website in advance.
- Perama Tour and Travel contact number: +62 361 751875.
Note: The bus departure time is 7 AM every morning.
Tulamben is popular because of the wreck dive site. The wreck is of the USAT Liberty, a US Army Transport ship. Since the wreck lies in the shallow waters, the diving is suitable for all kinds and levels of divers. The dive is famous among the beginners as the dive centres provide the introductory dives at this wreck.
The highest point of the wreck is 5 metres and the deepest is 35 metres. The ship was destroyed by the Japanese and was brought to Tulamben for salvage operations. Unfortunately, the eruption from Mount Agung in the year 1963 damaged the eastern side of Bali, and hence the landed in the ocean.
Now, the shipwreck provides a great site to attract all the marine life. There are so many shoals of fish and sea horses. The water is warm and clear. And most times, there is no current.
- Type of Dive: Shore dive (the wreck is around 40 metres from the shore and the path is a bit rocky).
- Dive site: Ship Wreck.
- Depth: 5 metres to 30 metres.
- Visibility: Around 10 metres.
- Ideal for: Any levels of divers from beginners to experienced. However, the dive site is famous for its night dives, which requires the divers to be experienced.
- Wet suit: Yes advisable.
The best time to dive at the wreck is early morning or late afternoon. The dive site is also famous for its night dives. Note: The wreck is generally packed with divers from late morning to afternoon.
Best time and Marine life
The best time to dive at Tulamben is between October and November (inclusive). The conditions for diving is extremely good at these times as the water is calm and warm.
Diving at a shipwreck comes with a great advantage which is having an ample marine life. The site is famous for its large fish sightings such as Barracudas, Trevallies, Whale sharks and Mola Molas. There are also plenty of corals grown on the ship, which attracts many schools of fishes.
I saw a lot of sea horses and a stingray. And this was the first time I had seen a stingray during a dive.
The site is great for macro and wide angle photography.
Diving Centre and Cost
There are plenty of diving centres in Tulamben. All these dive centres specialise in the wreck diving. Most of them are PADI certified as well. The bookings can be done instantly at the dive centre and the dive centres usually prefer cash.
Note: Ensure to ask your taxi driver or the hotel staff as they may know the best ones and can advise you on a recommended dive centre.
I went to Tulamben many years ago and one dive with an instructor cost about USD 60 per person with the equipment and the tank.
Haggle on the prices quoted. Sometimes the dive centres discount and get the prices down. I think if I remember correctly my friends and I were quoted USD 100 per person.
Safety for solo female travelers
I went wreck diving at Tulamben with a local diving centre and with my two girl friends. In spite of being with my two friends, I did not have a good time diving. I was harassed by one of the diving instructors who accompanied me underwater. He tried to hug me and dance with me underwater even though I constantly pushed him away. Due to my experience, I would definitely not suggest diving alone in Tulamben.
Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the dive centre as it was many years ago. And yes, I did complain to the dive centre but not sure if any action was taken against the instructor.
However, if you are traveling alone and really wish to go diving here, I suggest talking and inquiring at a couple of places and reading reviews online before deciding. Also, ensure to go with a reputed diving centre.
Even though I had a bad experience with the instructor, I still recommend diving at this amazing site as I saw so much of underwater life. I know I will definitely return to erase the bad memory that I have. Only this time, I will ensure I do the proper research before selecting any of the centre. The dive at this wreck is surreal and provides a great experience. The ship wreck is massive and definitely worth a trip.