Information before you go
Tulamben is one of those tiny Balinese villages which are easily to miss on your way along this part of the island's north-east coast. There are only a handful of buildings of which most of them belong to foreign dive and hotel operators.
Tulamben tourism is low key and you can pretty much say that one kind of traveler is only likely to come here. The divers. This village attracts divers from all over the world and can be seen as the place for diving as Uluwatu is the place for surfing in Bali.
A black beach covered with blue clear water...
Like any other place, Tulamben was no exception and in the beginning just a hand full of divers reached this unspoiled location. Divers would even stay at Kuta and drive all the way to the east of Bali to experience the spectacular underwater world. These day trips from Kuta are still offered today.
Slowly things changed and in the 1980s the first resort was built. Divers were given the opportunity to explore the area even more and soon enough other bays besides the wreck were discovered.
Today Tulamben offers various excellent diving and snorkeling sites. Reef fish is abundant, coral growth includes soft and stone corals while many sites are easy to dive. If you are staying at Amed, Candidasa of Padang bai then you can easily reach these sights too.
Tulamben is at least a 2h30 min. drive from Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport and it could have been quicker but traffic jams in the south of Bali (where the airport is located) are normal nowadays.
Once you've passed Sanur and you're on the highway to Klungkung traffic gets easier and you'll pass rice fields, numerous Balinese villages, beaches and mountain ranges.
When coming from the north you will drive through villages and dry landscapes
If you are coming straight off the airplane and want to go to Tulamben then make sure you have arranged pick-up service at the hotel you are staying at. The airport taxi only lists prices until Candidasa so it could be that everything after that is just too far for them.
Please remember that there are no ATM's in Tulamben. So make sure you have pre-paid your accommodation, have a credit card on you or bring enough cash. Closest ATM is Amplapura.
As mentioned earlier in Tulamben everything evolves around diving. It has several amazing dive sites but the main attraction of this little town is the US Army Transport ship wreck 'The Liberty” which is located just 10 to 30 meters off the beach. It got torpedoed in the Lombok Strait by the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1942. It didn't sink immediately. Instead it was planned to be towed all the way to Singaraja where it could be repaired. However it never reached the north of Bali and was left ashore to get its cargo safe at the fishing village of Tulamben.
It lay there for two decades in which its valuables were pretty much stripped.
Its story doesn't stop here...
During the powerful eruption of Mount Agung and the earthquakes in 1963, where most of the area was destroyed and 2100 Balinese were killed, the ship was relocated into the ocean where it broke at the bow and stern.
Until today The Liberty shipwreck lies untouched off shore beneath the surface of the water where now it is teeming with marine life such as polyps, soft corals, many species of reef fish such as the Mola Mola (if you're lucky), Barracuda, Sunfish, Black-tip reef sharks and very rarely whale sharks have been sighted.
The sea life have become so comfortable here that many fish who live at the wreck are often spotted regularly.
Only for the advanced...
The Liberty ship wreck measures 120 meters in length and runs parallel to the rocky Tulamben beach. You can find the top of the ship at 3/5 meters depth and the deepest point of the ship is located 30 meters below the surface. Due to its location it is considered one of the easiest places to go wreck diving, making it ideal for all levels of divers.
The season for the best diving conditions at the USS Liberty is in the month October and November, however between March end of July you'll experience good diving conditions too. In the months December to March and August into September the winds create waves that aren't desirable for diving.
In contrast to other tropical beaches, Tulamben is known for its dark lava sand which can create a dark setting when diving. So make sure you dive on sunny days to appreciate the site even more.
Great thing about diving the liberty wreck is that you can walk in with your gear and immediately be surrounded by colorful fish, which at this point are so used to divers they won't even swim away. Getting pass the stones and cobbles might be tricky but after 5 meters it changes into sand.
Since the wreck attract many people for its the best Bali diving conditions it can get extremely busy during high season.
Besides the Liberty Wreck another known site is the Drop-off. This wall is an old lava flow from Gunung Agung and can be seen from the beach and resorts. Check how the conditions are before the dive as currents can be tricky. Divers who are already familiar with the Liberty Wreck and the Drop-off may want to explore other sites as River and Slope, just west of the Drop off.
For those who want to come face to face with sharks then they should head to the Shark point, near the Drop off. White and black tip reef sharks are known to come here and if currents permit you might even spot a grey reef shark or a hammerhead shark.
Other special dive sites such as Batu Kelebit (which has bright white sand), Pulang Pulang, Batu Belah and Tanjung Abu can be reached by boat. It is easy to arrange a day trip at one of the dive operators or you can approach one of the local fishing men who will know where to take you.
For those who do not dive you can find the Patch Reef located in front of the resorts. This reef is nice for snorkeling.
Here is a short list of a couple of dive schools in town that offer PADI or SSI diving courses and/or special dive courses such as Deep Diver or Rescue Diver. If you are not a native English speaker double check if there is an instructor who speaks the language you are the most comfortable with. Many schools offer courses in German, Dutch, Japanese, French, Spanish etc.
1. Made Sutama- Private Dive Instructor
Tel: +62 85238669404 or contact him through email
2. Reef Wreck and Critter - Underwater Photography and Live abroad diving
Tel: +62 81337123542 or contact them through email
3. Tulamben Wreck Divers - Bsides courses also known for the digital underwater photo courses
Tel: +62 363 23400 or contact them through email
3. Baruna Tulamben,
French-Balinese dive operator
Tel: +62 81 999 386 426 or contact them here
4. Aqua Dive Paradise
Tel: +62 81 237 933 104/+62 81 706 613 47 or through email
5. Matahari Tulamben Dive Center (part of the above mentioned resort)
Tel: +62 81 3386 366 70/ +62 363229 16 (reception) or contact them here
6. Dive Concepts (part of Tulamben Padi Dive Resort)
Tel: +62 812 368 454 40 or through email
7. Apnea Bali Freediving Education
Tel: +62 822 6612 5814 or contact them here
Enough dive schools to choose from...
Before going to Bali don't forget to get yourself a DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance in case something happens with your diving equipment, you have to interrupt your trip or you need special medical assistance. There's nothing more annoying than saying 'I wish I had'.
There are a couple of shops in but don't count on the juice in the batteries they sell so bring plenty of spare batteries for your underwater torch.
Tulambens only bank is the underwater bank so bring plenty of cash and in most resorts you can pay with credit cards. In case you need an ATM the 'nearest' can be found in Cilik village (15-minute drive), which is the BRI bank but they only accept Mastercard. The other option is to go to the ATM at Hardy's supermarket in Amlapura on Jalan Pangeran Diponegoro, a 45-minute drive.
Bali is located not far from the equator and average temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius so bring several waterproof sunscreen bottles.
While diving or snorkeling it's super easy to get sunburnt and after a couple of nasty sunburns I'm now completely covered in sunscreen and clothing before I jump into the water. Don't let it ruin your holiday!
Bring your own dive boots with proper soles because the beach is hot and rocky. If you like to travel light and don't mind rentals you can cover cover yourself from top to bottom at the dive schools.
All the beach hotels and resorts in Tulamben are dive resorts. They can arrange scuba diving equipment, trips and provide all levels of diving courses. Sometimes the hotels in Tulamben even have free snorkeling gear if you want to explore the coral garden in front of the resort.
Here is a list of the most popular resorts in town:
1. Liberty Dive Resort
Tel: +62 81337762206
2. Villa Markisa
Tel: +62 812 387 3108/+62 813 37141550
3. Matahari Tulamben Resort, Dive & Spa
4. Wreck Divers Resort
Tel: +62 363 23400 /+62 363 21166
5. Puri Tulamben Dive Resort
Tel: ++62 87 863 253 823
Tel: +62 363 2164262 363 21642
7. Tauch Terminal Resort
Tel: + 62-361-774 504 / +62 772 920
8. Paradise Palm Beach Bungalows
Tel: +62 363 22910/ +62 36322913
9. Scuba Seraya Resort
Tel: +62 361 845 0089
10. Ocean Sun Dive Resort
Since there are only a couple of decent resorts and restaurants here many travellers also stay at the emerald-blue bays of Amed or further south at the coconut village of Candidasa where there's more choice and a little bit more action even though you will not find night clubs and dodgy bars here.
A great option is staying in Amed, which is pretty nearby
Home > Tulamben
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Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
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