The Island of Thousand Temples offers different diving destinations. However, the most famous USS Liberty Wreck is located in a small quiet village of Tulamben in the north-eastern part of Bali. It is possible to visit this area just to explore the wreck during 1 day. Though it might be a good idea to stay longer and to get acquainted with other unique and still little explored diving destinations in Tulamben.
You can take a car, a taxi or a minivan at Bali’s International Airport and within 2-3 hours you will find yourself in Tulamben. Most of accommodations and dive clubs can organize a pick-up service from the airport or another spot on Bali.
The village of Tulamben will comfort those who prefer peaceful relaxation in a picturesque place as there are no big shops and night clubs there. There are few ATMs in the village and they can be out of cash while cash is the main currency. So it might be a good idea to cash in advance either at the airport or in another location on Bali.
If you are taking a day trip to Tulamben from another destination in Bali, the dive center will organize everything for you including transfers, 2-3 dives, lunch, and snacks. Usually, you will make a morning dive at USS Liberty Wreck and then another wall or similar dive in the nearby territory.
Some of the dive clubs offer a night dive at USS Liberty Wreck. But you will need either to spend a night in the Village or you can enjoy a longer stay taking an opportunity to see other great diving spots of Tulamben.
There are dive clubs who specialize in Underwater Photography or Video in Tulamben. They can assist and organize specialized diving trips for experienced divers, provide rental of the needed photo and video equipment as well as provide special courses. Reef Wreck & Critter is one of such dive clubs.
There are a few dive sites which can be entered from the shore. As the beach in Tulamben is covered with large and small stones, it might be useful to put on hard sole dive boots. The torch is also highly recommended for wreck diving.
Best dive sites overview
USS Liberty Wreck
The wreck is, of course, the biggest attraction in Tulamben area. She used to be 125m (410ft.) long US cargo vessel. She was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine while traveling from Australia to the Philippines and sank near Bali in 1942.
The wreck is located not far from the shore so it is suitable not only for diving but for snorkeling as well. The upper part of the wreck is located at 5m (16ft.) while the deepest point is 35m (114ft.). You can expect to see many reef and wreck inhabitants; and there is a chance to spot Mola, Blacktip Reef Shark and even Whale Shark here.
If you prefer to dive with fewer people at the site try to arrive before 10 am or after 2pm.
Coral Garden is a beautiful site especially for macro life and photography along the Tulamben Bay. It starts from 2m (6ft.) and goes down to 30m (98ft.). With plenty of light, you can try to make amazing pictures of Shrimps and Groupers at their cleaning stations, Leaf Scorpionfish, Mantis Shrimp, Blue Ribbon Eel, Cuttlefish, Squid, and Bumphead Parrotfish. Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks are often spotted around.
This dive site is perfect for beginners and it is often used for marvelous night dives.
Tulamben Drop Off and Shark Point
Not far from the famous wreck there is another great dive site for advanced divers, it is a wall starting at 4m (13ft.) and going down to 70m (229ft.). While you are close to the surface you can enjoy Nudibranch, Lionfish, and many reef fish.
If you go further and deeper to Shark Point you might be lucky to see Grey Reef Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks, and Rays. There might be strong currents and thermoclines of 24°C (75°F) in the deep areas.
Mystery Rocks is usually accessed from the beach. The maximum depth at the site is 40m (131ft.). At the depth of 14m (45ft.), there is a 5m (16ft.) deep cave. The reef is covered with Anemone, Gorgonias, and Sponges. Morays, Turtles, and Bluespotted Stingrays are residents of this area.
The Eel Garden and Reef Ridges
The Eel Garden is a famous sandy spot with a countless number of Eels living in the area and protruding from their holes.
The other part of the dive site is a beautiful coral reef descending to 40m (131ft.). It is full of hard and soft corals, reef fish and pelagic fish. Several times Manta Rays were spotted here.
This is one of the best dive sites for photography and night dives. The black colored sand at the bottom makes it a perfect background for picturing multi-colored reef inhabitants. Among the most popular underwater models are Cuttlefish, Firefish Goby, Frogfish, Mimic Octopus, Nudibranch, Pipefish, Pigmy Seahorse, Yellow Seahorse, Boxer Crab, Orangutan Crab, Cleaner Shrimp, and Harlequin Shrimp.
This is another amazing shallow dive site which can be used for night dives and photography. It can be accessed from the shore. If there is some current you can enjoy a relaxed drift dive. You can try to spot different types of Nudibranch and Seahorse. Turtle, Barracuda, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks usually pass through the dive site.
Best dive season
Though the dry season lasts between March-July and October-November, the latter two months are the best to dive at Tulamben. The visibility is very good and there are fewer winds during this transition of the seasons.
If you dive during October-November, you will have the best visibility of 20-25m (65-82ft.). During the other months, it can be less due to rains, winds, and waves. The water temperature usually is 28-30°C (82-86°F) with a possibility of thermoclines. The temperature in a thermocline can go down to 20-24°C (68-75°F).
You should also take tide into consideration especially when diving close to the shore.
Tulamben is proud of its biodiversity. So besides enjoying one of the most spectacular wrecks you can also see a great variety of soft and hard corals, reef and pelagic fish as well as some predators at one of the best diving areas. It is possible to meet Hammerhead Shark, Grey Shark, Whale Shark, Manta Ray and Mola (Sunfish) around Tulamben.
Macro paradise offers an opportunity to enjoy Nudibranch, Leaf Scorpionfish, Cleaner Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Harlequin Shrimp, Blue Ribbon Eel, Frogfish, Mimic Octopus, Pigmy Seahorse, Yellow Seahorse, Orangutan Crab and Boxer Crab.
Tulamben is a small village that is why the choice of accommodations is not very big. Nevertheless, you can choose Rooms, Villas, and Bungalows located on the beach or nearby. There are several Resorts integrated with the dive centers.
Liberty Dive Resort
Liberty Dive Resort is located within 100m (328ft.) from the Tulamben Beach. Accommodation is provided in different types of Rooms and Cottages decorated in Balinese style.
Matahari Tulamben Resort, Dive & SPA
The Resort offers different types of Rooms and Bungalows decorated in Balinese-style. The Dive Center is located on the beach of the property. Guests can relax either at a Spa-center or in hammocks and sunbeds around garden and terrace.
Ocean View Dive Resort Tulamben
This is a boutique hotel located within a short distance from the USS Liberty Wreck. There are Rooms and Bungalows to choose from. The Resort offers different packages which include diving and accommodation.
The Resort is located right on the Tulamben Beach. It offers 5 Balinese-style Bungalows with private terraces. Guests can relax in Spa and wellness center as well as join yoga classes.
Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort
This is a boutique resort offering accommodation in one of 5 Rooms or 2 Beach Front Villas. There are all-inclusive offers for the guests combining accommodation, transfers and diving.
Some liveaboards traveling between Komodo National Park and Bali stop at USS Liberty Wreck and Tulamben Drop Off, for example, Indo Aggressor. You can check with the boat operator if there are any other Tulamben dive sites on your route.
One of the most popular ways of diving at Bali is a Dive Safari. It gives you an opportunity to cover dive spots in different parts of the Island. Safari package usually includes guided dives, transfers, and accommodation. At your request, the operator can include into the program different types of accommodation as well as some diving courses. The number of days varies from a short trip to a 2-weeks travel. You can choose such popular packages like Tulamben and Seraya Exploration, Eco-diving, Wreck Diving, Best of Bali, and Photography. If you have your own idea of an itinerary, most of the dive operators will be glad to adapt their Safari in accordance with your request.
Among the clubs who specialize in Dive Safaris, there are Atlantis International, Blue Season Bali, Bali Aqua, Two Fish Divers, Aquamarine, Underwater Tribe, and some others.
Other activities for non-divers
As the coral reef and USS Liberty Wreck is located very close to the shore of Tulamben it is a great place for snorkeling.
Another thing to do in Tulamben is to visit the morning market, it starts at 4 am. You will find a large variety of goods offered: tropical fruits, vegetables, special Balinese herbs and spices, snacks and even live poultry.