Tulamben, Bali August 2008
We had planned to visit this place for a while and
August 2008 seemed a good a time as any to
make the journey. We contacted Tulamben
Wreck Divers by e-mail to make some enquiries
and before we knew it we were booked for a
seven day trip which was as simple as “ no
worries, we will pick you up at the airport”. We
then booked our flights and waited patiently for
the day.
Arrival at Dempasar Airport was at 2.00 am and
our driver was eagerly waiting to embark on the
two and a half hour trip up to Tulamben and upon
arrival we were welcomed and shown to our
room for some well earned sleep. After dragging
ourselves out of bed at about 9:00 am we walked
to the other end of town and had some breakfast at Mimpi resort, which turned out to be our regular haunt at meal times. Following
breakfast we spoke with Wyan who introduced us to our dive guide and organised our gear for the first dive.
On this first day we did a couple of relaxed dives at a site called Coral Gardens. I had a list in my head of what would make me happy as
far as photographic subjects for the trip and we completed that list on the first dive, such is the diversity of marine life around
Tulamben.
Day two started with an early morning dive on the local wreck of the Liberty ship which lies along the edge
of the beach in about 35m of water and is home to huge schools of fish as well as Pygmy Sea horses and
numerous reef fish. Early morning is the best time for the wreck as you almost have the site to yourself
whereas by about 10:30 am divers from Kuta and Dempasar arrive in huge numbers and that is no fun at
all. Over the next few days we covered pretty much the same sites by our choice as there was so much to
photograph and in fact we dived a small cleaning station at Coral Gardens on four consecutive dives
leaving our dive guide somewhat bored.
The days were broken up with a couple of short trips either northwest or southeast of town including two
dives at a site about 5 km south east which for me was muck diving
heaven. Harlequin Shrimp were the order of the day here as well as several
Lion fish, Moray eels and Fire urchins with their resident Coleman Shrimp.
Northwest of town found us at Kubu reef that we dived on two
consecutive days, as you had to do this site with macro and wide angle.
Here we were shown Pygmy Sea horses, Ghost Fish as well as sweeping
reef scenes in clear water. There are many sites here that we did not dive
including the Drop off because we were too involved in the sites we did
visit over the seven days so I guess that means just one thing, We have
to go back. For me this place is perfect for the type of diving I enjoy with its simplicity and wealth of
marine life. There are virtually no currents and although the visibility is not gin clear it is more than
adequate for the type of photography I do ( check out my Tulamben 2008 gallery ). My only concern prior
to the trip was the fact we were diving with a guide but my fear dissipated rapidly when we found out the
guide was exclusive to the two of us and we were not herded into a group. In fact I would not bother
diving this area without one as these guys found everything and were there to make sure you had a great
experience. The guides were friendly, well trained and very knowledgeable when it came to the creatures
we encountered. You can bring your own equipment or do as we did and only bring the essentials such as
mask, wet suit (3mm) gloves and booties as the gear is supplied by Tulamben Wreck Divers but make sure
you bring a computer, as this is not supplied.
In these days of limited baggage restrictions and with all the photographic gear you tend to take it is advantageous to use their gear.
Tulamben wreck divers have their own accommodation, which is clean and well serviced as well as a pool, but they do not have a
restaurant so meals will have to be sourced at one of the many good restaurants in town. Another good thing here is after 3 or 4 dives for
the day you will find some of the local women waiting at the dive shop to give you a relaxing massage by the pool, what a life.
P.S. One word of warning. Large quantities of Bintang Beer can cause loss of memory.