Contributed by DanielN
Bali is a land famous for its lush green landscapes, endless sunny days and
a bustling tourism industry in the south with many activities including surfing,
cycling, trekking and rafting. Often overlooked though is the variety and quality
of diving. From deep drift dives in search of pelagics to muck diving in the
volcanic black sand looking for critters; Bali has it all!
I had planned a 3 month trip in Indonesia and diving here was high on my to
do list. The Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben is justifiably the most popular dive
site in Bali and it was here on its doorstep at Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort
that I would be based. Alongside the wreck there are 2 more sites: Drop off
are easy shore dives within walking distance of the resort. When combined with
short journeys to the surrounding sites such as Kubu, Alamanda, Ahmed and Seraya,
there is plenty to keep any diver entertained for weeks.
An average day's itinerary would be to wake at dawn, grab a quick coffee and
kit up for an early dive at the wreck, followed by breakfast and at least 2
more dives at the other sites. I was amazed by the variety of life in the area.
Friendly competition between dive guides provides many interesting finds and
on every dive I encountered something rare or new to me. I happily shot away
filling my 4GB memory card more than once.
one dive after spending 20 mins looking for a recently spotted pygmy seahorse
I turned and met a big Black-tip Reefshark, quickly followed by a giant Napoleon
Wrasse and a few Bumphead Parrotfish. So much for the macro dive! There would
be many more chances to satisfy my small critter fix though and one of the best
sites for this is Seraya Secrets. A 5 kilometre drive from Tulamben, the area
hosts black sand slopes down to 30m+ and the chance to see many rare and unusual
creatures. With the invaluable help of my dive guide I was rewarded with sightings
of Harlequin shrimps, seahorses, boxer crabs, many moray eels, and also a great
number of fire urchins which hosted the photogenic Colemans shrimp!
other stand out macro dive is Paradise or Coral Garden as it is also known,
a shallow reef which runs between the wreck and the drop off. I spent many long
dives of 70 minutes plus here at around 5 meters photographing Ribbon Eels,
Frogfish, Mantis Shrimp and Leaf Scorpionfish among many other things.
The resort also organise day trips to Nusa Lembongan where there is a famous
Manta Ray cleaning station. On the day I arrived the site was so busy with diveboats
it looked like a harbour! Luckily for us though everyone seemed to be ascending
from their dives and I spent an hour with as many as 8 different mantas! Whilst
I would be looking into the blue trying to spot one I would then turn to find
another gliding above my head! Although this site is incredibly busy it is definitly
worth doing and if you get lucky like I did then it can be spectacular,
the star attraction though is the Liberty shipwreck. Being as famous and popular
as the wreck is, from 8.30am until around 2pm everyday the area gets amazingly
busy with up to 100+ divers in the water! For this reason it is well worth getting
up early. On more than one occasion me and my excellent dive guide Nyoman had
the dive site all to ourselves! An amazing feeling and an excellent chance to
really explore and get some good photographs.The wreck lies in less than 30m
of water and starts at a depth of just 5m. The broken ship is encrusted with
many colorfull hard and soft corals and seafans and hosts a massive variety
of fish. Staying so close meant plenty of dives to experience everything this
wonderful site has to offer. My final and best dive of the trip would highlight
just why this sight is so special.
had decided to dive 30 minutes earlier than usual (6am) hoping to witness the
daily departure of the resident school of bumphead parrotfish. Me and my guide
were the only people in the water this early and found the herd of 20+ huge
fish within minutes. We then descended to a familiar area just before the wreck
where we found approx 10 Orrnate Ghostpipefish and Robust Pipefish. I swapped
my wet lens from fish eye to macro and happily shot away.
We then planned to descend to the deep end of the wreck at approx 28m to a
seafan known to host Pygmy Seahorses. Halfway there whilst scanning the wreck
for critters I heard frantic banging from my guide and looked up to see a huge
Oceanic Sunfish. A Mola Mola on my last dive of the trip
and not another diver in site! The giant fish has been known to make rare appearances
here and allowed us to watch as it got cleaned by Bannerfish for 15 minutes
before sinking back into the depths.
The dive was not over yet though and as planned we found 2 different species
of pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus bargibanti & Hippocampus
denise). From the oceans biggest bony fish to one of its most famous
tiny critters within a few minutes! With time running out we also found a white
juvenile Frogfish before ascending to the top of the wreck to complete my safety
stop amongst the huge school of swirling jacks. An unforgettable dive to end
the trip. This site is reason enough to dive in Bali and I will be back to Tulamben
wreck divers ASAP. Bali is an underwater photographers paradise.......