Tulamben, Bali July 2011
I was lucky enough to be invited back up to
Tulamben this year for a seven-day trip, which
included five days of diving. Tulamben is located
at the northeastern end of the island and is the
home of Tulamben Wreck Divers who have
accommodated me for four trips to date.
A well-equipped dive shop fronts the property,
which has seven units at the rear as well as a
Tony, an Aussie,
and Wayan as well as a large staff of the friendliest local Balinese people that you can find run the
operation and I always feel like I have never left when I get here.
We flew up earlier in the day this time so that we could get to our final destination at a more respectable
hour as in the past it has always been a 2:00 am arrival. As we landed in Denpasar at 5:00 pm and had a
fast processing time we were able to get on the road by 5:30 pm, just in time for the traffic. After a brief
toilet stop we managed to get to Tulamben at about 8:15 pm and this gave us plenty of time to check in,
get changed and go get some dinner.
The next morning we set up our cameras and took in some breakfast next to the pool. Our friendly cook “Ni
Luh” (pictured right) remembered us and with some well cooked eggs,
bacon and coffee we were ready to go by 8:00 am for a dive at the Coral
Gardens. To get things started it was straight down to the cleaning
station to photograph the resident creatures that are found there and we were not disappointed. We took
things easy and worked our way up to the airplane at 5 metres, which is a wire structure that was put
together by the locals to attract fish and corals.
These structures can be found throughout the area and are home to a number of marine animals. We put
in another three dives for the day before having a shower and heading over to Wayan’s (a restaurant
across the road from the dive shop) to download the day’s shots to our laptops.
This is also the time for an ice cold Bintang or two.
There are many places to get a feed in Tulamben but we always end up
returning to the Tauch Terminal, which is located on the water, a few
hundred metres from Wreck Divers. The service is fantastic and the food is
great and occasionally they have a banquet with Balinese dancers. Prices
are a little dearer than some of the other places but we find it well worth
it and compared to western prices they are still cheap.
The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn to hit the wreck (USAT Liberty), which is the most
famous site here, and were dismayed to find that the resident Barracuda was no longer to be found.
Rumour has it that it may have ended up dinner but I think age might have got the better of it. The USAT
Liberty is a great dive, which starts off at 5 metres and drops of to depths exceeding thirty metres at the
bow and is home to huge schools of fish like Bump Head Wrasse and Trevally. Amongst the structure you
can find many Anemone’s with their resident Clown Fish as well as Nudibranchs and just about every coral
fish you could imagine.
The rest of the day was made up of another three dives along the slopes of Tulamben with many small creatures and macro photography is
king around here.
Each day for us was made up of a routine that started with the wreck and moved along the slopes while looking for new shots to take and
each day was made up of four dives. The rest of the day is just pure relaxing with good food, drink and the occasional massage by the
pool. At least one night up here is spent at the villas that are a part of the company and just up the road. It involves a big feed put
together by one of Tulamben Wreck Divers most experienced guides and someone who I consider a good friend, Made, as well as his wife
and another friend. The food is to die for and the location as well as a few drinks makes it difficult to end the day.
A trip to Tulamben for me is no longer just for the diving and after four years I have found that I am rarely more relaxed than when I visit
this place. The people are great and I have met many locals that remember me from previous years and treat me like I am more than just a
customer by letting me into their lives through conversation and an attachment that grows with each visit.