Tulamben is known as one of the top scuba diving areas in Bali, but if you’ve never been before you may be surprised to know that this world-famous dive destination is actually just a small fishing village on Bali’s north-east coast.
It’s a small area with a few accommodation options, restaurants, and dive operators but it’s great to use as a base if you are looking to escape the crowds.
Dive Sites in Tulamben
Tulamben is most famous for the Liberty wreck that lies just off its shores. But the waters here are bright with colourful reefs and filled with vibrant sea life and plenty of critters. There aren’t a ton of dive sites here, but you may find yourself wanting to do multiple dives at the same spots because there is so much to see.
Here are Tulamben’s dive sites:
- Liberty Wreck/ USAT Liberty: Liberty wreck is the reason why divers come to Tulamben to start with. The massive US Transport ship was sunk by a torpedo in 1942 and lies just off the coast of Tulamben. Divers can easily do 2-3 dives here to explore everything this wreck has to offer. One of the best times to dive is at sunrise, when all it’s night inhabitants (including some impressive bumphead parrotfish) wake up and leave for the day.
- Boga Shipwreck: A cargo vessel that was scuttled in 2011. Just minutes away from the Liberty Wreck.
- Tulamben Drop Off: A wall that starts at 1m and drops down to 40m. Its covered with corals and has plenty of overhangs where lots of little critters like to hide.
- Tulamben Coral Garden: A healthy reef filled with bright corals and lots of reef fish. You may spot some reef sharks here as well.
- Suci Place: Suci Place looks like an underwater museum. Numerous statues have been sunk here to create an artificial reef.
- Shark Point: Not far past the Tulamben Drop Off, Shark Point is a good place to spot reef sharks. If the currents are strong you may even see a hammerhead.
- Tulamben Drift: This drift dive takes divers from the bay, past the gardens, and towards Liberty Wreck. Expect to see tons of marine life (5-15m gives the best variety)
- Mystery Rocks: About 6km from Tulumben this is an interesting dive site with a reef descending to 40m and a small cave around the 14m point. The walls are covered in sponges and lots of cave and reef fish can be found here.
- Rubaya: Only 1km from Tulamben, there are a few dive sites around these reef ridges. The Eel garden is a favourite with literally hundreds of eels coming out of the sand.
- Kubu: A few kilometers from Tulamben is another set of dive sites. Kubu area is a similar reef to Rubaya with gorgeous rock formations covered in corals and sponges, and lots of fish life including barracuda, lionfish, nudibranchs, and even reef sharks.
Getting to Tulamben
Getting to Tulamben can be tricky and expensive. Bali doesn’t really have a public transit options so you will have to hire a private drivers to take you. Of course, the further you have to go the more expensive the cost, so try to plan your visit to Tulamben accordingly.
Tip: If you use the same driver multiple times they are more likely to give you a deal. When bartering ask them if they would be interested in the return trip as well and use that as a bargaining chip; because it’s a bigger and more expensive trip, most drivers will want the job.
Things to Do in Tulamben
Scuba diving is the number one reason why people come to stay in Tulamben, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing to do in this part of Bali. Here are some other sights and attractions in and around Tulamben that you may be interested in checking out.
- Tulamben Tree House: Perched above the treeline, the Tulamben Tree House is a great place for photographers looking to get unique angles. You get a 180-degree view which includes Mount Agung in the distance.
- Tirta Gangga Water Palace: Dating back to the Bali Kingdom era, this beautiful water palace has three main aspects to explore: the garden, the water pools, and the many detailed statues decorating the palace grounds.
- Tulamben Beach: Unlike most other beaches around Bali, Tulamben’s beach isn’t a sand beach but rather a rock beach thanks to a volcano eruption years ago. It’s not ideal for sunbathing but it is good for snorkeling,
Where to Stay in Tulamben
There are a few accommodation option in Tulamben ranging from nicer hotels to homestays and dive resorts. We recommend staying on the dive resort if it’s an option. It just makes things easier, plus means you don’t have far to go when you get up at the crack of dawn for the sunrise dive at liberty wreck which is an absolute must.
It is possible to use a dive operator in Seminyak or other, busier areas further south. However, this also means you will be at the dive sites at the same time as all the other divers which makes for a less pleasant experience. For this reason, we recommend actually staying in Tulamben itself.
Tulamben may be small and remote, but if you are a serious diver and want to see one of the best shipwrecks in the world, it’s an absolute must. Plus, by actually basing yourself in Tulamben you get to experience the best of these dive sites before the crowds. A definite perk for any scuba addict.