Tulamben, a village on the north-northeast coast of Bali is the continuing topic of the Bali Dives series of entries. As said previously, the area boasts three excellent dive sites, Coral Garden, Drop Off and the wreck of the USAT Liberty. I’ll talk here today about Coral Garden and Drop Off, as the USAT Liberty deserves it’s own post in the next instalment.
Coral garden is a delightful
area, and much like Drop Off, features depths up to and past 40m, with good visibility (even in the rainy season) and no noticeable current. The water temperature is a pleasant 20˚C or warmer, and all dives at the three immediate location are shore dives. Coral Garden is the only dive of the three where you carry all your own gear to and from location. In all other locations, local women are hired by the dive groups and resorts there to carry tanks
and BCD’s to preposition them for you. This may sound sexist, but don’t try to lug your own kit, they get upset with you because they are paid by trip.
Anyways, Coral Garden. It’s a shallow slope leading down to areas of black volcanic sand with flecks of broken shell. It features both natural and artificial reefs, “forests” of anemones, and many types of marine life. Seriously, there’s over 200 species of fish and invertebrates in the relatively small area of Tulamben. Blacktip Reef sharks, numerous types of clownfish, and great transient schools of fish over concealed flatfish and rays in the sandy patches. It’s a mild and relaxing dive and fantastic by night under a full moon.
Drop Off is just that, a wall dive with a very noticeable drop off part way along. The trip out is a bit of a go, with a walk and a short swim out to the start point. The wall is home to fantastic sea fans, very large anemones, cuttlefish, strange sea stars, and a variety of fish. The Blue-Spotted Ribbontail ray is also there, as well as the occasional shark. Drop Off is also a good location for deep dives, with a sandy stretch at 40m that’s a good area to practice skills.
Overall, these two dives are great for training, ideal for photographic opportunities, or just plain relaxing in tropical water. Abundant life, careful maintenance of the ecosystem by the local population (no fishing close to shore, no cyanide or dynamite fishing at all), makes this area notable for very low intensity, low stress dives that retain their appeal even after you’ve done them a few times. The appeal for both experienced divers and new divers alike makes Coral Garden and Drop Off two of my favourite dive areas in Bali.