One Fine Day in Tulamben

August 15, 2019

This area is dry. Trees, bushes, and grass on the roadside seemed unable to reduce the heat. At the bend in the road where the place is rather high, the blue sea is seen stretching wide in the north. While in the south, Mount Agung stands proudly with thin smoke at its peak. The road which is the main route on the coast of northern Bali is not very crowded. Occasionally large vehicles such as buses and trucks drive, from Java to Lombok, or vice versa.

That day, September 2, 2018, I, together with Anatoli Marbun “Bolenk”, planned to visit these two diving spots on the eastern coast of the Bali Sea, precisely in the waters of Tulamben Village, Kubu District, Karangasem, Bali. Along the waters of this village, including the surrounding villages, there are continuous coral reefs. We arrived at Seraya Resort at nine in the morning, according to our promise with Wayan Semut, a dive guide who had become Bolenk’s acquaintance in the past few weeks.

On the way to Seraya Resort, Bolenk complained about his diving the night before. He was not satisfied because the night dives he did for the first time were too short. The night photos under the sea that he got were not many and not good. Naturally, aside from a short dive, this is the experience of both using underwater cameras. Of course, with the experience of shooting in a little water, maximum results will be difficult to obtain, especially at night with minimal light.

Wayan Wik, a dive guide from Seraya Resort and recommended by Wayan Semut will accompany us to dive. He looked quite wary of us he had just met. But I like his attitude, because at least I know that he is careful to be a dive guide. A little interview about our diving experience was explored by him, including seeing my old diving certificate that was outdated. After wearing the wetsuit and preparing the equipment, we boarded the ship with a captain.

Our first destination was the best and most famous diving spot in Tulamben, namely USAT Liberty Wreck. After traveling about fifteen minutes along the waters, we arrived at this point. The location is not far from the coast, the beach is quite crowded. This dive point can indeed be accessed directly from the beach. From the boat, I saw a shop, air tubes lined up, people passing by and also those who were preparing to dive. While on the surface of the water, there are some people who are snorkeling.

After the installed equipment was ready, we went down. The depth indicated on the altimeter when we arrived at the eastern wreck was eighteen meters. My first impression after entering the water was, “Wow!”. I was stunned. Not because of the beauty of coral reefs or seeing fish among the wreckage of ships of this second world war era, but because of the many divers who also dived at the time. Around twenty to thirty divers, or maybe more. True, a friend said, USAT Liberty Wreck in Tulamben is like a market. Always crowded.

USAT Liberty was an American transport ship in the days of the Second World War. In 1942, he was damaged by a torpedoby torpedo shot by a Japanese submarine while sailing from Australia to the Philippines. This ship is planned to be towed to a Dutch-owned base in Singaraja. Due to severe damage, instead of arriving at Singaraja, this ship was finally landed on the coast of Tulamben to save his belongings. Until then in 1963 when Mount Agung erupted, lava flows pushed it towards the coast and sank it.

We began to explore, around ships that are out of shape and filled with coral reefs. There are red sea fans in some places, green and blue sea plants, beautiful starfish, colorful nudibranchs, and angel fish that milling about; they are the dominant inhabitants of this sea. In some places, there are large reef fish disguised like chameleons, as well as clown fish with a typical home.

Little by little, we began to reduce the depth level. The sun up there is strong enough to penetrate deep into the sea, causing the colors of coral reefs to be more beautiful. The atmosphere is still crowded. Below us there are several divers passing by, above us there are also divers. Further up to the surface of the water, there are those who do snorkeling. We began to enter several aisles on this ship. Quite fun, even though it requires more vigilance. This is because we must not get or the equipment used is stuck.

On one side, I saw a cannon in its snout inhabited by small fish. A green turtle that is roaming around looking for plankton also swims around it. The depth is around five meters. We did a safety stop while passing by looking at the beauty of the coral reef that is approaching the beach. When the indicator of the availability of air was running low, we went up to the surface and into the boat. Then head to the quiet beach to rest. Our total dive time at Liberty Wreck is fifty minutes.

We rested to do surface interval. Wayan Wik, who is a native of Tulamben, tells about his global sea since the last twenty years. About the threat of the eruption of Mount Agung and Tulamben, which is a disaster-prone area, and the lonely effects of tourists. “If Mount Agung erupts, the coral reefs here will be affected by lava floods, like in 1963,” he said. “But over time, these rocks from Mount Agung also helped shape the beauty of Tulamben’s beaches and coral reefs,” he added.

An hour has passed. We are preparing for the second dive. Because along the coast, this area is full of coral reefs, in front of where we rest this is actually a diving spot. But we don’t dive there. Our destination is another dive point called Alamanda. Unlike the busy USAT Liberty Wreck, there are only three of us at Alamanda. The level of visibility is also better, maybe because it’s quiet.

The coral reef area in Alamanda is a wall with a slope of about sixty degrees. We descended to a depth of twenty meters. Then start exploring westward following the ocean currents while reducing depth. The beauty of the coral reefs is quite dense and colorful. Bolenk seemed happy, he was endlessly photographing clown fish which is often found at this dive point. Clown fish are small goldfish with black or white lines on their bodies, better known by the name Nemo which are catapulted by Disney cartoons.

We dived in Alamanda for fifty minutes. Looking at the reddish sea fan, various plankton that turn green, nudi branches, angel fish, clown fish, lionfish, and various other fish whose names were not in my mind dictionary at that time. The inhabitants are in plain sight is not much different from what I saw before at the USAT Liberty Wreck. This is of course because of its location which is close together and is a group of coral reefs. The difference is that there are only cannons and ship plates.

After noon, the sun’s rays slowly penetrate the crevices of the clouds, illuminating the slopes of Mount Agung which makes it glow golden. The sparkling light also glowed in the blue waters of the Tulamben whose waves danced. The beach breeze is gentle. Accompanied by this natural language, I finished my dive that day and prepared to go home. Valuable experience. Although I am not a great diver, but I can assure you and say that diving is always impressive.

Original Blog by our friend! :



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