Tulamben is a small fishing village on the east coast of Bali, Indonesia. Though Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Indonesia, Tulamben doesn't have a large number of tourists other than dedicated divers and snorkelers.
It is essentially a "one horse" or rather "one wreck town". The USAT Liberty cargo ship wreck that lies close to the beach at a depth of 5-30 m (15-100 ft) is the must see dive site here. There's soft coral growing on steel, schools of fish swarm around the coral and large pelagics like blacktip sharks frequent the deeper sections of the ship. Even snorkelers can enjoy the wreck as it is easy and safe to access from the beach.
Though there's plenty to see around the wreck even on multiple dives, Tulamben also has some other fantastic snorkeling and diving sites such as the Tulamben Drop Off, the Tulamben Coral Garden, Mystery Rocks, Monkey Bungalows and Secret Seraya.
The 125 m (411 ft) USAT Liberty was launched in 1918 and served as a cargo ship in World War II until 1942 when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine close to the Lombok strait. U.S. and Dutch destroyers attempted to escort it to Singaraja, a former Dutch port on the north coast of Bali, but it was taking on too much water. It was decided to beach it at Tulamben to salvage as much from ship.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, the highest point in Bali, caused tremors and lava flows amid widespread destruction. The USAT Liberty slipped off the beach and shifted to its current position on sloping sand just 30 m (100 ft) from the rocky beach.
It became a world-class dive site as coral slowly coated the steel and an amazing diversity of marine life started to call it home. Schools of trevally, emperors, sweetlips, and batfish zoom around the wreck, and often follow divers around. Snorkelers and beginner divers enjoy the shallower areas while advanced divers explore the deepest part, where the bow gun forms the basis of a coral statue. Barracudas hunt the smaller fish and there is usually a stingray or two as you head toward the wreck from the beach. It's not really possible to enter the wreck due to its condition, but the reason it appears on every serious diver's bucket list is the stunning marine life attracted to it.
Don't forget to check out the Eel Garden on your way to the wreck. It's a large area on the seabottom, covered by hundreds of eels, swaying in the current.
The wreck offers unlimited angles and exploration opportunities. A sunrise dive is well worth getting up early for and a special night dive can add to your sense of wonder. No matter how or when, the Tulamben Wreck is one of the best dive sites in Bali if not the world.
Unicorn fish and crescent wrasse will close in on you, to see if you have brought something to eat. There are larger fish like Napoleon wrasse, coral trout and big groupers who will monitor your activities around the wreck. Emperators and batfish lurk in the depths. An improbable array of coral grows on and around the ship, hiding entire schools of small fish. At the other Tulamben dive sites, expect an astonishing variety of coral, tropical fish and a good chance of seeing turtles, rays and sharks on the reef.
The 90 km (55 mi) distance from Bali's International Airport, Denpasar, can take over 3 hours by car or even half a day by bus. Most of the route is quite scenic, especially Tulamben's surrounds with the volcanic Mount Agung and lush tropical vegetation. Divers generally stay at Tulamben or come from nearby Amed or Padangbai for a day trip. Practically all diving companies in Bali offer a trip to Tulamben, if you don't mind a few hours of driving before the ocean plunge.
For astonishing visibility up to 40 m (130 ft), try April to July and October to November.