16 April, 2008

Bewitched by Bali

All pictures are thanks to Renaud Wicky Bali Hai Diving Adventures http://www.scubali.com/
Diversity of diving is one notable hallmark of Bali. Be it big fish sightings — such as Mola Molas and mantas; a superb and accessible wreck; or fascinating discoveries with muck diving.

I have been diving in a number of locations in Bali over the years. The fast-and-furious drift dives around Nusa Penida, the wall diving in Menjangan complemented by some superb natural surroundings and the washing-machine experience at Gili Selang. But there is one place I am always eager to go back to: Tulamben.

The two-hour transfer from Denpasar to Tulamben is always filled with all the colors, sounds, scents and flavours which make Bali such a unique destination. The road to Tulamben winds its way through Gianyar, Klungkung and Amlapura. It then climbs up the flanks of Gunung Seraya affording great views of the famous rice terraces and of the imposing volcanic cone of Gunung Agung which, at 3,142 meters, dominates, unperturbed, the local landscape. The most memorable moment during the transfer is, however, when the road reaches a vantage point which affords a spectacular view down the valley; past the emerald-green rice terraces lie the Tulamben coast with its sweep of black cobbled beaches in stark contrast with the countless bright white, blue and red jukungs (local fishing boats) pulled up beneath the trees and the very deep blue waters of the Bali Sea.

I always stay at Scuba Seraya Resort which sits bang in the middle of Tulamben Bay. With a 120-meter shipwreck, a dramatic drop-off reef, rich sand slopes and bank reef to explore and other prominent dive site within easy reach, this place can keep a diver happy for weeks. In reality, Tulamben, is one diving spot where, personally, I will never tire of diving. I really don’t understand divers who say “We have been there already”. This is as illogical as saying you have seen a sunset on a particular beach once, and don’t need to see it from the same place again. We spend only a brief period underwater, usually barely an hour at the time, and the probability that we will see everything of interest in that moment is nonsensical. I have been going diving to Tulamben on a regular basis since 2005 and every time it has been a truly memorable experience.

The resort offers some very comfortable living with all the amenities one would normally expect. Attentive, charming and good humored staff, a good selection of tasty food to keep the energy levels up, a well organized and professionally staffed dive centre…all the things that contribute towards a very pleasant diving experience. However, the one thing that truly makes this place special is the interesting characters you always meet there. Starting with Patrick Shwartz, the founder of SSR, you always end up meeting some fascinating and like-minded individuals with their own unique diving and non-diving stories to share.

Even during the rainy season Tulamben remains a fascinating diving destination while waiting for the east wind to start blowing steadily in April signalling the official start of the southeast monsoon (the dry season).

The only true dive guide to Bali:

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