Bali,  Diving Trips

Tulamben Diving: How to Create the Most Exciting Scuba Trip of a Lifetime

Indonesia is, without a doubt, one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world.   

As one of only six countries that make up the Coral Triangle, Indonesia is a sought-after dive destination for world-class diving in places like Raja Ampat, Ambon, Lembongan, and of course, Bali

Bali is a perfect destination for scuba divers with all levels of experience, offering a spectrum of marine life from the smallest painted frogfish to the biggest bony fish in the world, as well as a variety of dive sites from muck to vibrant coral reefs.

Tulamben is one of many spectacular dive destinations in Bali.  

What I love about Tulamben is that you can experience a wide range of dive sites along one shoreline, from the Drop Off that is covered in colorful barrel sponges and gorgonian fans, the shallowest shipwreck that can be enjoyed even by snorkelers, to muck diving that is sure to please macro lovers!   You can read more on Tulamben dive sites in the following sections.

Whether you are a beginner diver or an experienced underwater photographer, Tulamben fulfills just about every diver’s wishlist.

This post will summarize everything you need to know about planning a dive trip to Tulamben, from dive conditions, how to get there, where to dive, and where to stay.

diving in Tulamben - view of Amed
Shoreline of Tulamben

The Basics of Diving Tulamben Bali

When to Go: Diving in Bali can be good year round, but December to March is the “rainy season,” which means the visibility can be murky compared to the rest of the year. But the good news is the rainy season also means slow season – so there will be much less crowd to share the dive sites with!

Dive Experience level:
  Beginner to advanced.
If you are not yet a scuba diver, worry not! Tulamben, with shallow reefs along the coast, actually makes an excellent location for learning how to dive or even snorkeling!

You can choose to do a Discover Scuba Dive  (a single trial dive that you will conduct with an instructor), or an Open Water course where you will receive training to become a certified diver. Note that the PADI Open Water course can take 3-4 days depending on the program schedule.

PADI Advanced Open Water course is also a great opportunity at Tulamben, as the USS Liberty Shipwreck site is fantastic for a night dive, deep dive, navigation, fish ID, and other specialties.

Water temperature:  24 – 29°C

Depth:
5 – >60m

Visibility:
  10 – 30m

Access:  Tulamben is located along the east coast of the island, about 2 hours’ drive from Sanur and up to 3 hours from Kuta/Seminyak/Canggu areas.

Since most of the sites are located along the shore, you can expect to do shore entry for most of your dives in Tulamben.

Currents:  Easy. Currents around Tulamben are very mild (unlike what you may experience in Nusa Penida region).

The shallow depths combined with easy dive conditions make Tulamben an optimal diving destination for beginner divers 😉

Surface conditions:  Between August and September, the surface waves pick up along the shores of Tulamben, making a shore dive difficult and even dangerous. The beaches at Tulamben consist of mostly rocks and pebbles, which makes getting in/out of the water especially uncomfortable and tricky.

During the “big wave” season, divers often lose their balance during entry and exit, resulting in injury. Take extreme caution and follow the guidance of your dive guide.

And regardless of when you go diving in Tulamben, make sure you always have travel insurance.   It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Number of dive sites: 12-15 throughout Tulamben. Highlights of best dive sites in Tulamben are discussed below.

scuba dive in bali - view of mountain
view of the countryside along the drive to Tulamben

Diving in Tulamben: Getting There

There are two ways you can dive Tulamben:

1.  Book a Day Trip

If you are staying in South Bali (Kuta, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Jimbaran, etc.) and have limited vacation time, it may be convenient for you to take a day trip to Tulamben rather than planning and arranging a separate trip on your own.

You can sign up with Bali Diving in Sanur who will pick you up at your hotel in the morning and transport you in their van/bus up to Tulamben.   The drive can take about 2-2.5hrs from South Bali.

A day trip package involves two dives at Tulamben, generally scheduled at USS Liberty Shipwreck and Drop-Off (or Coral Garden).

You will do the first dive around 10:15 at the wreck, take a lunch break during the surface interval and then do a second dive around 13:00.

You will have an opportunity to change into dry clothes before hopping into the car for a drive back to your hotel.

You can expect to return to your place around 17:30 – 18:30.

2.  Arrange Your Own Trip to Tulamben

If you plan to go scuba diving in Tulamben, my recommendation is that you stay locally in the area, rather than take a day trip to Tulamben from South Bali.   You can hire a private driver in advance and plan for a 2-3 hour ride through the mountains, depending on where you begin your trip.

Speaking of a driver, be sure not to get scammed by the Taxi Mafia the airport.  I have written several tips on how to navigate out of the Denpasar airport.

Once you exit the hustling and bustling south Bai, you will have a pleasant drive through the countryside to a small fishing village of Tulamben.

The main strip in Tulamben has some accommodation and food options, but the town caters mostly to divers so don’t expect much social life.   What you CAN expect is to experience a countryside of Bali with a stunning view of Mount Agung, and more dive site options that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to if you were on a day trip.

TIP

If you decide to stay in Tulamben, dive the USAT Liberty wreck and the Drop Off before 10am or after 2pm.  The hours of 10am-2pm are packed with day trippers from South Bali.  

scuba dive bali - shore entry in Tulamben
Shore entry at Drop Off

Tulamben Hotels

Budget

$12/night for a Superior Double Room including breakfast

It’s hard to believe that you can get a room for this price for double occupancy, not to mention breakfast and a resort pool!   The hotel is located within walking distance to other restaurants in town and a couple of supermarkets.   

Crystal does not have an in-house dive center but recommended dive operators in Tulamben are listed below.

Mid-Range

$41/night for a Standard Double Room including breakfast

Located directly on the beach just a stone throw away from the Liberty wreck, you can’t get a better value than Ocean View Dive Resort.   

With spacious rooms and a lovely pool to relax in between the dives, this Tulamben dive resort is perfect for those looking for comfort, convenience, and value.

There is an attached dive center where you can hire guides and equipment.  

Luxury

$97/night for Garden view Bungalow including breakfast

The bungalows at Toyabali are clean, modern and beautifully decorated.   The resort is located right on the beach, where you can enjoy the stunning ocean views from the pool, restaurant, or anywhere on the beautifully manicured gardens.

The bathroom with a huge tub and outdoor shower is one of the highlights of this resort.  You can choose to shower under the stars or unwind in a hot tub after an incredible night dive at the wreck.   I don’t know about you, but I live for outdoor showers 😉

Tulamben Dive Sites

Liberty Shipwreck

Located just 30m from the shore and 5-30m deep, USS Liberty is one of the most accessible and famous underwater shipwrecks in the world.   This cargo ship from WWII submerged underwater by the eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963 and has since become a haven for schooling fish, turtles, corals, and invertebrates.   

The 120 meter-long wreckage is now coated in a variety of colorful soft corals where you can encounter a group of bumpheads in early mornings, and fascinating critters after sunset.  

Usual Suspects: Sweet lips, turtle, garden eels, snapper, nudibranchs, moray eels, bumphead parrot fish, Napoleon wrasse, scorpion fish, anemone fish, barracudas

Drop Off

This dive site is located just south of the Liberty wreck and is a reef wall that gradually descends to 70 meters starting from the shore.  The reef wall has a fascinating landscape filled with overhangs that are covered in soft and hard corals, most notably the sea fans and barrel sponges.

Usual suspects: schooling trevallies, bumpheads, and other reef fish, pygmy seahorse, nudibranchs, shrimps and more

diving in Tulamben_clown fish

Coral Garden Tulamben

The Coral Garden is a shallow reef that is located between the Liberty wreck and the Drop Off.   The reef is only 2-15 meters deep, making it a perfect second dive spot after the wreck, or even a snorkeling site.  The combination of hard corals and soft corals make this site home to a variety of colorful reef fish such as angelfish, butterfly fish, anemone fish, and damsels. 

Usual suspects: Leaf Scorpion Fish, Cuttlefish, Ribbon Eels, Ghost Pipefish, schools of Snapper, Trevally and Sweetlips and an occasional reef shark.

Seraya Secrets

Popular among macro-life enthusiasts and underwater photographers, Seraya is a muck dive site that is home to some of Bali’s most fascinating critters.   This critter heaven is mainly sloping black sand with patches of corals.  

Only advanced divers with excellent buoyancy control are recommended for muck diving.

Usual suspects: Frogfish, boxer crabs, Coleman shrimp, Sea Months, Harlequin Shrimp, cuttlefish, mimic octopus, robust ghost pipefish, seahorse, nudibranchs galore

There are many more dive sites around Tulamben.   If you have a flexible schedule, you may also consider exploring the neighboring town of Amed, which is another charming diving destination just 20-30 minute south of Tulamben.  

diving in tulamben: frogfish
Don't miss Seraya if you love these guys!

Tulamben Dive Centers

If you decide to head to Tulamben for more of a “local experience,” check out the local dive centers listed below.  I have either dived with or worked with all of them, and they also have great customer reviews!

  • Tulamben Wreck Divers
  • Aqua Dive Paradise Tulamben
  • Let’s Dive Tulamben
  • Tour Dive Bali is run by a local Indonesian guy, his name is Wayan.
    Wayan speaks great English and can create a custom package for you including pick-up/drop-off anywhere in Bali, as well as sightseeing destinations throughout the island.   He’s a great guide under and above water 😉    

Summary

Diving in Indonesia is as good as they say.  It’s so good in fact, that there are more liveaboard cruises that operate in Indonesia than any other region in the world!

I have dived throughout Indonesia including Raja Ampat, Komodo, Ambon, and Nusa Islands and can attest that it’s not just the hype!

I hope you found this guide to Tulamben diving helpful and informative – if you have any questions regarding diving in Tulamben or planning a trip to Tulamben, please leave a comment below!

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scuba diving | scuba travel | Bali travel | If you are a scuba diver heading to Bali, make sure you don't miss Tulamben! Read this post for a comprehensive guide to diving in Tulamben, Bali. #scuba #balitravel #scubadiving
If you are heading to Bali Indonesia, be sure that snorkeling or scuba diving in Tulamben is on your Bali Bucket List! Seeing the Liberty Shipwreck underwater is one of the things to do in Bali that you don't want to miss on your itinerary! Check out this Bali guide for all the travel tips you need to plan a dive trip to Tulamben, including the dive sites, what to do and where to stay. #bali #tulamben #scubadiving #indonesia #scubadiver #divetravel #baliguide #balitravel

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