Indonesia Snorkel+Dive

The Best Diving in Tulamben, Bali (Top 11 spots for Macro and Wrecks)

We had heard that the North East coast of Bali offered some great macro and wreck photography opportunities, so in September 2018 we decided to head out on a two month expedition to discover some of the best diving in Tulamben and its surrounding areas.

Where is the best diving in Tulamben?

With the exception of our dive trip to Padre Burgos in the Philippines, the majority of our scuba lives had been spent enjoying the bigger stuff, so we were ready to change things up a bit. Setting out on a dive expedition of Bali, Indonesia, it was time to try the muck, reef and wreck diving opportunities of the islands north east coast and discover some of the best diving in Tulamben. Here we provide information on some of, in our opinion, the best sites in Tulamben, which will hopefully help you get the most out of your diving trip…

Here is a video of our highlights from diving in Tulamben:

Dive sites

US Liberty Wreck

The US Liberty Ship Wreck Dive Site

Undoubtedly the US Liberty Wreck is the most famed site for diving in Tulamben. As probably the most iconic shipwreck dive in the world, it wasn’t at all surprising to find that this site was often packed full of divers. We dived here a total of 16 times, and once we got the timings right it absolutely blew us away.

The wreck can get especially busy, therefore we recommend avoiding these peak times if possible:
5:30am – 7:30am which is when divers gear up for the sunrise dive, the main attraction being the likelihood of seeing schooling bumphead parrotfish. Although this is an impressive sight, it is somewhat dampened by the colossal groups of divers. 10:00am – 3:00pm was our least favourite time, as hundreds of day-trippers arrive from all over Bali to dive the wreck.

Another extremely popular time is 6:00pm – 7:30pm which is the first slot for the night dive. Although this dive does get very busy, it should definitely not be missed. Abnormal soft corals and brightly coloured sponges coat almost every surface of the wreck, and armed with a torchlight they can be seen in their true vivid colours. Giant moray eels come out to play, weaving between the passages and crevices of the old ship. It is possible to get up close to sleeping bumphead parrotfish which lurk in the dark underhangs, and if you’re really lucky like us, you might even spot the massive napoleon wrasse patrolling the wreck in a semi docile state, or a hairy frogfish!

Our ideal time to dive the wreck was around 4:30pm. By then, the day trippers had gone home and we often had the ship all to ourselves. The low light levels of the late afternoon gave it an exciting but eerie feel. Another great time is just after 7:30pm when most of the night divers surface. In our opinion, the Tulamben Wreck easily offers some of the best diving in Bali.

Visibility: Very good
Macro: Very good
Wide Angle: Excellent
Current: Moderate
Time of day: 4:30pm / 7:30pm
Access: Shore

Melasti

Melasti Diving in Tulamben Bali

This was one of our favourite muck spots, so good in fact that we dived here 6 times – 2 night dives, 2 day dives and 2 unguided dives. Whilst the first and third time we dived here the conditions were easy and very calm, we experienced strong currents on the second dive, making it quite difficult since this site is all about the small stuff. Although it was quite amusing watching the little nudi’s blowing about in the surge!

Here we saw mantis shrimp, ornate ghost pipefish, many types of nudibranch, octopus and stingray. During one of our night dives we spotted two adult harlequin shrimp at around 12 metres snacking on a starfish (our first siting in Bali) which was amazing. On most occasions we were lucky enough to have this site all to ourselves, which was quite a surprise seeing as Melasti is so good.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Nil
Current: Mild – Strong
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Seraya

Diving Seraya Secrets in Tulamben Bali

We’d heard lots of great things about Seraya before diving in Tulamben, and after reading that it was one of the best macro spots in Bali, our expectations were very high! Seraya is located just infront of the Scuba Seraya Resort, approx 5km from Tulamben. We arrived at the site around 4pm as we planned to do 2 dives including a night dive. It was a pleasant surprise to find not a single other diver there.

The shallows were crawling with tiny moray eels. Deeper we found 6 different types of nudibranch and several couples of ornate ghost pipefish. However, the highlight for us was spotted at around 20 meters – a beautiful honeycomb eel chilling out with hundreds of his shrimpy friends under a colourful coral head.

We were told by a local guide that Seraya isn’t what it used to be for macro, and it was only up until recently that you would be guaranteed to see the pygmy seahorse. In our opinion Seraya did not have the best diving in Tulamben for macro, however it certainly didn’t disappoint us.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Fair
Current: Mild
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

The Drop-Off

Drop Off Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

The Drop-off is located just a few hundred meters east of the Tulamben Wreck. It’s not quite as popular as the US Liberty, but it is an iconic wall offering some of the best diving in Bali. We did many dives here, as you can easily walk to this site from many of the dive shops located in the Tulamben area. The ideal time to dive here was either early morning or at night. During night dives we were pretty much alone on the reef, as everyone else is off diving the wreck. The wall is really impressive after dark.

The highlights for us here were seeing a large group of schooling fusiliers, which we found on every single dive at no deeper the 9 metres. We also saw a pygmy seahorse on one of the smaller coral bommies at the start of the reef, a Spanish Dancer swimming in the dark and the only white tip reef shark we saw while diving in Tulamben.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Very good
Wide Angle: good
Current: Mild
Time of day: 6:00am / 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Kubu

Kubu Dive Site in Tulamben Bali

Kubu is also famous for having a shipwreck. Although deeper and smaller than the Tulamben Wreck, it is by far more intact and definitely worth a dive or two. We did 2 dives in this area, a day dive on the sunken ship and another about 100 meters east of the wreck entry point.

Making our way towards the shipwreck, we came across a small coral reef at around 12-15 metres. This was a pleasant surprise, and gave us something to look at on our decent. Eventually at around 25 meters, we started to make out the eerie outline of the ship. It is possible to penetrate the inside of the boat, weaving through small passages into various tiers and cabins, while making a slow ascent at the same time. Taking a torch is definitely worthwhile.

On the second dive, we entered 100 meters east of the wreck and found some interesting macro and small clusters of coral. Here we found a hairy frogfish, ornate ghost pipefish, baby scorpion fish and multiple spanish dancers. The variety of this site means it is definitely up there as some of the best diving in Tulamben.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Very good
Current: Mild
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Batu Niti

Batu Niti Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

We did two amazing dives at Batu Niti, and would have loved to do more but unfortunately the site was closed for several weeks during our stay. Luckily, we first hit Batu Niti during nudibranch mating season and boy were they getting it on! There was tons of nudi action all over the place, we saw many different species in all colours, shapes and sizes. Thanks to our excellent guide, we even spotted a handful of the tiniest, cutest frogfish!

We didn’t just find macro here either. If you’re in the mood for some wide angle then Batu Niti could be your place. A massive school of jacks have recently taken up residence at around 12 metres. While we were there, the fish were being hunted by trevally – which for us was a sight reminiscent of Raja Ampat.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Very good
Current: Moderate
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Batu Ringgit

Batu Ringgit Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

Batu Ringgit or Pura Grombong as it is sometimes referred, is in Desa Kubu approx 6km from the centre of Tulamben. Located just off of the main road along a small dirt track, this lesser known site sits directly in front of the temple of Pura Grombong. Entry is made from the big grey pebbles at the shore, which may make entry and exit a little tricky for some.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we were the only divers at Batu Ringgit. This varied site offers macro opportunities starting at just 3m over a ridge of reef. Descending further, there is a small cave which is possible to enter. The walls of the cave are covered in soft corals, anemones, feather stars and fans. Different species of schooling fish hide in its dark crevices, moving in unison as you get closer.

We found this dive site quite fascinating, it was fun working our way across the ridge and exploring such a varied environment. Batu Ringgit was probably one of our favourite places for diving in Tulamben.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Very good
Current: Moderate
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Cantik

Cantik Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

Cantik is an excellent choice for all the macro and muck enthusiasts out there, but it is important to have a keen eye. We dived Cantik on several occasions both with a guide and without. During our solo dive we struggled to find anything of note, however on the guided dive our experienced spotter found us three baby frogfish, including a clown! Cantik is a great place for underwater photography lovers, although good buoyancy is key.

Upon entry you will find a gentle slope, with nothing more than volcanic sand stretching for miles. Following the coastline descending to the right side of the beach, there is an impressive wall to explore with unusual soft corals including a patch of mesmerising green grass, swaying in the surge. Watch out for the Triggerfish though, they can be aggressive during egg-laying season.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Fair
Current: Mild
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Sergada

Sergada Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

Sergada is great place for night diving in Tulamben. After dark it seems that the weird and wonderful come out to play. Here we spotted an adorable pygmy cuttlefish, the mimic octopus, ornate ghostpipefish, giant sea snails and fluffy spider crabs. The daytime diving was just as rewarding, with plenty of nudibranches and interesting corals to explore, which attracted some pretty reef fish.

During one dive, we got caught in a particularly strong current, which is quite uncommon while diving in Tulamben. Although this posed no threat, it was a little tricky to keep our balance and buoyancy on the silty ocean bed, especially since there was nothing to hook into.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Fair
Current: Mild – Strong
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Sidem

Sidem Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

Sidem located just South of Tulamben, and is a relaxed place to dive. Sitting in a picturesque beach amongst tradition fishing boats, it is a great place to chill and enjoy a surface interval with a Kopi and the friendly locals. Although this is by no means a busy site, we preferred to dive in the late afternoon.

A slope of volcanic black sand gently descends to around 20m and steepens gradually as it becomes more deep. Between the slopes and sandy bottom, there are many little patches of coral, sponges, fans and stones to explore. This patchwork quilt is home to a host of marine life.

Night diving is particularly good at Sidem, and it is an excellent spot for macro photography. We found all sorts of critters here including orange mantis shrimp looking up at us with their googly eyes, spiky porcupine fish, ornate ghost pipefish and many other bizarre creatures we are still yet to identify! We enjoyed a number of dives at Sidem, it was probably some of the best diving in Tulamben we experienced.

Visibility: Excellent
Macro: Excellent
Wide Angle: Fair
Current: Mild
Time of day: 3:30pm / 6:30pm
Access: Shore

Coral Garden

Coral Garden Dive Site in Tulamben, Bali

Coral Garden is just 100 metres east of the Tulamben Wreck. It is a popular spot for beginners and refresher dives, as these can take place on a gentle slope with little to no current. The site is less challenging than The Drop-Off or US Liberty which are on the same stretch of beach. Therefore we recommend it to those who are new or just getting back into diving.

We only dived here once as it wasn’t as exciting as the other sites on our list. It definitely isn’t some of the best diving in Tulamben, but the garden of anemones do have a special point, making it worth at least one dive.

Visibility: Very good
Macro: Good
Wide Angle: Fair
Current: Mild
Time of day: 6:00am / 3:30pm
Access: Shore

Why not try Tulamben for some of the best diving in Bali!

We thoroughly enjoyed diving in Tulamben and left with a new love for small stuff (and a huge improvement in our buoyancy skills!) Diving the US Liberty Wreck at night truly blew us away, as did the astounding diversity of macro life we found across many of Tulamben’s dive sites.

Diving in Tulamben can be incredibly affordable, a bonus for budget backpackers like us. There are lots of dive centres and resorts to choose from in the area, most of which are in walking distance to sites such as Tulamben Wreck, Coral Garden and The Drop Off. We can highly recommend Bali Dive Quest, an awesome Father and Son team who are excellent spotters!

Tulamben’s dive sites are easy to navigate, with mostly unchallenging conditions. If you are an experienced diver, it is possible to rent your own tanks, unguided. After many guided dives we built up enough confidence to go it alone for the first time, which turned out to be a great decision, both financially and in terms of developing our diving skills.

The beauty of Tulamben is its ease. The vast majority of spots are accessed by the beautiful black sand beaches running from Amed to Kubu. Each site receives support from the local communities, and like a well oiled machine, the villagers help by collecting and dropping off tanks to the dive centres and providing basic facilities such as toilets, water for washing equipment plus coffee and snacks for surface intervals. Not only is this incredibly convenient for the divers, but it is also a great example of sustainable tourism – something we love to see.

There is nothing quite like descending into the ocean as the sun sets over Mount Agung. We were lucky to experience some of the best diving in Tulamben and hope you’ll be inspired to consider North East Bali for your next dive trip.

We hope you enjoyed reading our post about the best diving in Tulamben! If you would like the details of the dive guide we used in Tulamben, please make a request in the comments below and we’ll send you an email.

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