Diving in Bali, eye to eye with a giant barracuda

by Maarten Rol

Oct 30, 2015
Indonesia has a lot of nice diving spots and Bali is not an exception to that rule. While I consider myself just an amateur, I have been lucky to taste the fine underwater scenery on some of the wonderful spots. Like Menjangan Island and the famous diving hotspot at the Liberty wreck in Tulamben.
There are quite a few qualified diving centers who will be happy to help you with guidance, gear and transport. We had positive experiences with the French-owned Atlantis International on the Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai in Sanur, which is a 5 Star PADI Certified IDC (Instructor Development Center).

Diving at Tulamben
Diving at Tulamben

Ehhh what? Liberty wreck?
For those who do not know the story of the Liberty wreck: In World War II a so-called Liberty Class ship was torpedoed by the Japanese and its captain put it on the beach of Bali in order to save it. Years later the ship glided under water during a violent earthquake. People started diving there around 1979 when they discovered what a fantastic diving site it is. A day of diving there can be a combination of going to the wreck and diving at the beautiful coral gardens close by.

Moorish Idol fish at Tulamben
Colorful Moorish Idol fish to be seen at Tulamben

Nowadays Tulamben has become pretty crowded, as it attracts divers from all over the world. So if you decide to check it out, make sure you arrive very early. The water is most of the times clear, but there may be plankton depending on season, current and weather.
When you arrive there, the small women of the village will take the heavy bottles on their head (sometimes two at one time!) and carry them to the beach. Do not consider being polite by doing it yourself: they do it for their living and it will not be appreciated that you take their source of income from them! Getting in the water may be a little bit difficult with the waves and the stony beach, but as soon as you are under water things will be fine.

Large Grouper at Tulamben” height=
Large Grouper at Tulamben

The last time I was there a lot of beautiful fish could be seen. However, my heart almost stopped when I looked around one of the corners of the Liberty wreck and my face was only centimeters from a giant barracuda of over 2 meter length. Those teeth are enormous! Luckily it wasn’t interested in some foreign meat.

Want to prepare yourself for some fantastic diving and looking for a fine read?
I can recommend “Diving Bali - The Underwater Jewel of Southeast Asia” by David Pickell and Wally Siagian. It is a book from Periplus, maybe you will be able to get it in the Periplus book store that can be found on Ngurah Rai Airport.
It is already quite some time in my possession, so I do not know if it is still for sale.

By the way, a nice place to start from is the award-winning Villa Casis in Sanur, at walking distance from the beach, which can accommodate 2 till 12 persons! Also our other villas in the Gianyar area are located very conveniently for diving at Tulamben.

Huge barracuda at Tulamben
This huge barracuda cost me quite a bit of air from my tank!

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