Destinations, Indonesia, Travel log

Tulamben, diving at the bottom of a volcano

At the bottom of Mount Agung

Tulamben is a very small village on the East Coast of Bali, just North from Amed. We arrived in this village for diving but also because it is near Amed, where boats depart towards Gili islands (our next stop).

The great surprise we had upon arriving is to discover the Mount Agung in all its majesty! What an amazing experience is to get out of the sea in front of this beautiful volcano! With 3031 m high it is the highest mountain of Bali. You can hike up, although it is said to be a challenging hike. Unfortunately it was out of the question for us as it was still closed because of its ongoing eruption since November 2017. Although we could not see anything, the danger was there.

Enjoying snorkeling

We arrived just the day before our planned dives so were looking for a cool activity to finish this beautiful day. What else to do better than snorkeling? Our dive club was nice enough to let us use their snorkeling material (not every club would let you…) so here we went!

Don’t expect paradisiac beaches, it is all shingle beaches, which for some people can be even better than sand but these beaches require water shoes. When it comes to snorkeling in Tulamben (and Amed) beaches have a lot to offer! We stayed almost 2 hours in the water enjoying this beautiful aquarium! There were many, I mean many, different species of fishes to observe! And the biggest one of all: the humphead parrotfish, more than a meter long! So big!

Diving the Liberty Shipwreck

We went to Tulamben mainly because of the presence of a big shipwreck: the Liberty USAT. This is a US Army cargo that was torpedoed in 1942 by the Japanese. They somehow managed to pull it over to Bali and it stayed of the beach of Tulamben for a few years until an eruption pushed in down the sea in 1963. Since then it has been a very popular dive site.

The good part of diving from Tulamben is that it is an easy shore dive from the diving club: you get your gears on (luckily they bring the tanks to the beach for you) and walk for 5 minutes to the beach spot just in front of the shipwreck (you cannot see anything from the beach). Then you start diving following the slope downards and suddenly you’re in front of this huge broken boat!

The shipwreck is located between 7 and 30 meters below the surface, so you mainly go around the first half of it but there is still plenty to see: huge fishes (like this huge humphead parrotfish that we also saw while snorkeling), fish schools and even reef sharks if you are lucky ( we were 🙂 )

During that day, we dived twice at the shipwreck and once at a vertical wall, that was also very nice (and we also got to see some reef sharks there)

No pictures, sorry!

What else to do in Tulamben?

To be honest, not so much! The village itself is quite small and most “attractions” are concentrated around the main street. Some trails allow you to go for little walks in the back of the village towards the Mount Agung. Tulamben is a good place for diving and snorkeling for a day, but don’t expect anything more than that.

Amed, departure point for Gili Islands

If you plan (like us) to go to the Gili Islands or Lombok you can take a speedboat from Amed. But to be honest it was a nightmare of a cruise! Taking a speedboat mean you cannot stay outside unless you want to be soaking wet (actually I am not even sure it is allowed), so you have to stay inside. It will be sold as having an AC room; don’t dream, since the AC is usually not working whatever the company you choose. And you cannot really open the windows because water gets in…  So here you go for a 2 hours ride jumping on waves with no fresh air. Fun, fun, fun!

Our recommendations is to go to Padang Bai and take the slow ferry, it will take about 4-5 hours on a big rusty ferry but in the end it would be a much smoother and enjoyable ride!

Next stop: Gili Trawangan island.

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