Submerged in History

A Balinese dive spot attracts international attention

By: Bill Harby

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Tulamben, Bali, is visited by divers
from all over the world.
As I stood in my dive gear on the rocky black-sand shore and stared out at the flat sea, it was hard to believe that the wreck of a 394-foot ship lay just 50 yards away.

There are several reasons why scuba divers from all over the world come to the little village of Tulamben on Bali’s northeast shore. The main reason, however, is the submerged wreck of the U.S. cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II.

Led by a local guide, my friends and I waded into the water and dove down. The murky shallow waters suddenly revealed a hulking wall of rusty steel. A little deeper, the water cleared and we saw the hull of the wreck dug into the black sand. Fish were everywhere, and soft coral attached to the hull waved back and forth in the current. For the next 40 minutes we swam through the skeletal ghost, staying mostly at depths of 40 to 50 feet. This amazing dive is just one of many along the Tulamben coast.

Among other great, easily accessed spots is Tulamben Drop Off, a wall dive rich in corals and other sea life, with occasional sightings of sea horses and deep-sea fish including, once in a great while, huge, docile whale sharks.

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The highlight of a dive in Tulamben is the
wreck of a W.W. II cargo ship.
Island Accommodations
Little Tulamben village has several small hotels that feature their own dive shops and guides. One of the best is Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort. It’s not really a “resort” (no tennis, spa or restaurants), but the large, spotless rooms with polished ceramic tile floors, TV, air-conditioning and included breakfast make it a great place to call home between dives.

The TWD guides speak English well and are competent and friendly.

The hotel and dive shop are owned by Tony and Dot Medcraft, Aussie transplants who run the business with Wayan Ambek from Bali. All are avid divers. They opened Tulamben Wreck Divers in 2003. In August, they expanded their accommodation offerings to include two luxurious villas right on the shore.

The pool, surrounded by lush tropical greenery, is not just a good place to cool off, but serves as the classroom for new divers getting an introductory scuba lesson.

Tulamben Wreck Divers offers several levels of dive training, including introductory dives for newbies, the highly respected PADI open-water course to become a certified diver, refresher courses and advanced courses.

But, even if your clients have never strapped on a tank before, make sure you highly recommend they go diving. This is what Tulamben is all about.


Tulamben Wreck Divers

Room Rates: All rooms have attached bathroom, A/C, refrigerator and TV with DVD player. Breakfast is included. Deluxe: $20; Superior: $30; Penthouse: $45 Beachfront Villa, one-bedroom: $65; Beachfront Villa, two-bedroom: $120

Dive Rates (includes all dive gear and a guide): Day dive, $25; Night dive, $30; Unlimited diving, $90 per day

All-Inclusive Packages: Including room, dive and transportation: from $150 for one night to $520 for seven nights.

Commission: 20 percent