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Scuba Seraya Dive Resort



SCUBA SERAYA DIVE RESORT




Scuba Seraya Dive Resort - Tulamben, Bali


Really beautiful creations have one thing in common; they are founded on someone’s dream. When I worked in Tulamben as a resort manager and dive instructor in 1997 and 1998, I fell seriously in love with the place; the under water realm in front, the magnificent beauty of this special corner of Bali , and its people. Wouldn’t it be nice to run your own resort here and make everything even better?” This thought became an ever recurring dream. In April 2000 we started working on its realization, and Christmas 2003 we were receiving our first guests

It was a long and arduous journey. But today Scuba Seraya Resort represents a prime dive vacation destination with a unique atmosphere that is based on a strong philosophy. And nowhere is this more visible than with the quality of our employees. Most of them have been with us from the very beginning. They hail from where we are based and started as workers during the construction process. They were then selected and retained for personality and hidden talents.



So it is not unusual that for example a young man who had joined us as an unskilled laborer back when we laid the foundations with heavy boulders today is one of our certified Dive Masters and a sought after, English speaking dive guide. Or the shy 18 year old girl from Amlapura I met in 1998 when she was a trainee at a small beach restaurant; she demonstrated such unusual intelligence, loyalty, capacity to learn and leadership qualities, she went from waitress to cashier to supervisor. Since beginning of this year she is the resorts operations manager.

Our employees form one big family; they look after the resort and welcome guests as if welcoming them into their own home. This creates an atmosphere that is quite unique and we are immensely proud of. “Staff problems” are unheard of at Scuba Seraya resort.

Therefore, this page is dedicated not to one persons dream and vision, but to the people that made the realization of such a dream possible. The pictures here represent a small cross section of who will be welcoming you and the genuine smiles that will be with you throughout your stay.



LOCATION






THE RESORT




Just 3 km before the world renown dive destination Tulamben with it's famed "Liberty" ship wreck on Bali North East coast, wedged between the sparkling water of beautiful, un-spoilt Muntig bay and the holy mountain, Gunung Agung, lies a cluster of luxurious Villas and Maisonettes. Scuba Seraya Resort sits amidst lush tropical and landscape on its private beach black volcanic sand. The Resort has been carefully designed with a sense of style.



A picturesque peaceful heaven, with thatched roofs, teak wood furnishings, marble and natural stones from across the Indonesian archipelago, it conveys the serenity of a traditional village, yet it features all modern amenities. The Scuba Seraya Resort provides a tranquil vista in a beautiful setting for quiet relaxation.


Ocean View Villas (4 Units)

Facilities : Double beds only, armoir, sofa, table and chair, reading lights, veranda facing sea,own private garden with kitchenette (bar and small refrigerator), plunge - tub, Bale Bengong (Balinese style day bed) facing sea. Bathroom semi-outdoors, direct access to garden or bedroom, hairdryer, shower.




Garden Maisonettes (8 units)

Facilities : Double or twin beds, armoir, table and chair, reading lights, veranda with sofa facing garden, partial sea and volcano view. Bathroom outdoors, shower.




General Facilities :

  • All rooms are air conditioned and finished in natural stone, marble and teakwood.
  • Beach-side restaurant serving Western and Indonesian food.
  • Fresh water swimming pool.
  • Private beach.
  • Beach Side Massage.
  • Transfers by Scuba Seraya Mini Bus with aircraft style seating for 10 guests.





ROOM RATES

RESORT No. PRICE
Maisonettes (Queen-size bed or two Twin size beds
1 - 8
IDR 950.000
Villas Ocean View
1 - 4
IDR 2.000.000
Additional Bed
  IDR 250.000


Above rates include: Welcome Drink, American Breakfast, 15 % Government Tax and Service Charges.
Children under 6 years sharing the same bed as parents are FOC.
High Season Period: July 15 – October 31
Minimum Stay during High Season Period: 3 Nights
High Season Surcharge: IDR 200.000

Note:
Rates are understood per night and per room, double or single occupancy, unless extra bed required.

Airport transfer (one way/car) up to 3 persons IDR 850.000
Airport transfer (one way/mini bus) up to 6 persons IDR 1.200.000




SCUBA SERAYA DIVE



Scuba Seraya Dive is now widely regarded as one of NE - Bali's best run dive centers. Being a PADI resort association member, safety and quality are of prime concern. If you look for individual attention, no groups, unhurried service and very small classes, Scuba Seraya Resort and Scuba Seraya Dive are just your ticket! Easy beach entries and the resorts purpose-built fast dive boat assure a totally relaxed way of diving. There is a great variety of “critters” just in front of the resort. Besides all the known Tulamben and Amed dive-sites, we have explored and found many as yet unknown sites in the close vicinity as well as further afield.



Our Dive Sites

We regularly visit 20 of NE-Bali's most popular dive sites. Learn more about these exciting places by going to : NE - BALI DIVE SITES Written by Patrick, the way he experienced them by over the years.



DIVE RATES 2016

ITEMS
PRICE PER PERSON
Shore Dive (Seraya Secrets/Noisy Reef) IDR 300.000
TulambenRegion Boat Dive IDR 460.000
All quoted dives are guided dives, including 80cf/11,2 lt aluminium cylinder, air, weights and weight belt.

Additional Surcharges
ITEMS
PRICE
Nitrox per Filling IDR 40.000
Night shore dive (guided/minimum 2 persons) IDR 70.000
Night boat dive (guided/minimum 2 persons) IDR 120.000
Torch (per dive) IDR 70.000
Snorkeling Boat-Trip Tulamben Region (min 2 persons) per person IDR 250.000
Private professional dive guide/day (max 4 dives/day) On Request

Dive Excursion
ITEMS
PRICE
Amed Region(2 dives/minimum 2 persons) IDR 950.000
Lipah Bay (2 dives/minimum 2 persons) IDR 1.100.000
GiliSelang (2 dives/minimum 2 persons) IDR 1.200.000
Nusa Penida (2 dives/minimum 4 persons) IDR 1.800.000
Nusa Penida incl. Manta Point (2 dives/minimum 4 persons) IDR 2.000.000
Tepekong/Mimpang/Biaha (2 dives/minimum 4 persons) IDR 1.200.000
Dive Excursion includes: tanks, air, weights, lunch/snacks box, drinks/refreshments, towels, transfer boat/car. Additional third dive IDR 250.000.

Courses (PADI)
ITEMS
PRICE
Scuba Seraya Resort Introduction shore dive
(1 dive with prof. guide and incl. rental gear)
IDR 1.000.000
Open Water Diver (min 2 persons) IDR 5.000.000
Advance Open Water Diver (min 2 persons) IDR 4.000.000
Nitrox Course IDR 2.500.000
Rescue Diver / Specialities On Request

Equipment Rental Per Day
ITEMS
PRICE
Snorkelling set (mask, snorkel, fins and booties) IDR 75.000
Full Scuba Set (without Computer) IDR 220.000
BCD IDR 60.000
Regulator IDR 60.000
Wetsuit (3mm) IDR 60.000
Dive Computer (Suunto) IDR 90.000
U/W Compact Camera On Request
Dive Torch IDR 70.000


Note:
All Rates are in IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) and include 10% Government Tax and 5% Service Charges.
Rates are valid from April 1, 2012 until March 31, 2013 and may change without prior notice.




DIVE SITES
(A brief description of dive sites on Bali)




A brief description of dive sites on Bali’s north-east coast, from ‘west to east’ – Kubu to Gili Selang.
This is a selection of some of the better known sites that regularly attract divers. There are several lesser known – but no less exciting – sites, and many more are continuously being discovered by various resorts and operators. For more information, check with the operators listed in this guide, or log onto their websites.


• Liberty Shipwreck
• Coral Garden
• Drop Off
• Alam Anda
• Batu Kelebit
• Emerald
• Seraya Secrets
• Batu Niti
• Batu Belah
• Jemeluk
• Bunutan
Lipah Bay
• Gili Selang




MONKEY BUNGALOWS




This site, about 5 km to the west of Tulamben, is named after a small set of bungalows directly on the rocky beach, that in turn again was named after its resident monkey! Rudimentary wash down facilities exist, and porters will help you with your gear against a fee. The site is accessible by car. You enter the water by wading off the beach of boulders just in front of Monkey Bungalow’s restaurant. A shallow reef top of hard coral extends for approximately 100m, and then turns into a gentle slope, gradually forming a drop to the west into a sandy bottom, where one often sights 3 resident white tip reef sharks. The coral reef drop continues to a maximum depth of 45m, and then gives into sandy bottom with rocky outcrops. The reef part extends for about 300 to the east, so it is suggested you follow the drop down to your planned maximum depth (suggested 30m) then turn right and ‘zigzag’ your way back to the reef top, which makes an ideal safety stop.

There is a very good variety of hard- and some soft coral and reef fish. Macro photographers find many Nudibranchs in the sandy patches. This is an ideal ‘alternative’ dive to the ‘busier’ Tulamben Bay sites.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 40m
Visibility : 5 to 25m, depending on season
Current : Low, picking up to medium at full moon
Level of experience : All (open water certification)




JEMELUK




We are now in Amed. The topography here has somewhat changed; the closer we get to mount Seraya to the east, the steeper the shoreline becomes. Large bommies that were formed by big rocks that fell from the high cliffs above give footage to a wild array of hard coral, giving the Amed sites a somewhat more ‘dramatic’ appeal, commensurate with its terrestrial surroundings.

Jemeluk Bay, a large sandy cove with a village and many fishing boats has two sites, both of them widely known and considered the ‘Amed classics’. To the west is a very large reef formation, who’s top extends 200 and more meters off shore, where it will gradually descend, the drop getting steeper and steeper as you go east, eventually tumbling into a vertical wall that bottoms out at 45m and rivals the one at the ‘Drop Off’. It is often swept by a mild to medium current, picking up somewhat in speed around waxing and full moon. But this is not a problem; as this site can only be accessed by boat anyway, have the skipper follow you and enjoy the ride. Another benefit of the current is that this site sports some of the best visibility in the Tulamben-Amed area, often in excess of 30m. A healthy number of timid white- and black tip reef shark patrol this area, as well as at least one full grown Napoleon wrasse and a number of Humphead parrot fish.

At its eastern end, just before it gives way to the sandy bottom of the bay, a deep V is shaped out of the wall, both sides thickly overgrown with a profusion of soft and hard coral, the bottom turning into a 45 degree gradient sand slope at almost 50m depth, the top giving way to the reef flat at 12m at a sharp 90 degrees angle. At the end of my last dive there, while ascending facing the wall, the moment l reached the reef flat I found myself face to face with a black tip reef shark. I can’t remember who was more perplexed, but the shark didn’t seem to bother, taking off slowly over my head and glide along the wall to lie down again in the sand at its bottom. If you have read the above passage carefully this will tell you something about the visibility that prevailed on that day!

To the east of Jemeluk Bay is another large reef formation. The reef top actually starts inside the bay and is also a great, protected snorkeling area. This shallow top had been badly damaged during the 1997 El Nino and 1998 La Nina, when most of the large Arcopora table coral was destroyed. Larger bommies of brain coral, albeit bleached, remained and provided footage to a profusion of soft coral. It is therefore still a very beautiful spot, and the Arcopora variety has since staged a come-back. At places, while not yet dinner table size, they have reached at least dinner plate size again. The reef is very much alive. As you follow its edge out of the bay, you would turn east at which point it would drop very steep, almost forming a wall, to around 40m.

It is rich and fully intact and sports some big reef fish varieties, including some really large and deep red colored coral groupers. Unfortunately this also includes some ‘mothers’ of Titan triggerfish that can be a real pest when they are nesting. Twice a year, for about two weeks, they make it a sport to attack divers. Nothing dangerous really, but these fellows won’t normally give in before the diver (yours very truly included) finds himself back in the boat or way out in the blue and away from the reef at the surface! An average diver would last long enough on a single tank to dive the entire length of this reef to its end after about 500 meters and close to shore; this is a very rich area also and makes for a perfect safety stop at 5m.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 45m
Current : Low to medium
Level of experience : All




BATU KELEBIT




Only accessible by boat, the name Batu Kelebit means ‘Submerged Rock’ in Indonesian for its tip of a pinnacle that would penetrate the surface during low tide but otherwise stay submerged. Adjacent to the Alam Anda site, the drop is even steeper and goes very deep, as deep as the drop off, and more, beyond scuba range. A profusion of Goat, Rabbit and Damsel fish works out in the surf surrounding the rock. The large reef-top starts to both sides of the rock at 5m, gently sloping towards the edge where the drop would begin between 12 and 15 meters. Here, a large field of brittle orange Fire coral is so densely packed, there is no room left for anything else to grow between them. Yet I have been here caught up in a mating session of five Broad-armed cuttlefish, a spectacular display of electric color and pattern changes. Vicious, static mating moments would be interspersed with the female gently holding the egg with her trunk-like arms and graciously deposit it inside the coral with such precision that not even a greedy, hungry and agitated damselfish could get to it. Then she would jump right back into the mating foray, colors flashing!

Three spurs, or ‘fingers’ spaced by sand channels to the west of the rock form the drop-off. What makes this area so special is that the three spurs are so intensely compacted with hard coral, soft coral, sea fans and sponges in uncountable varieties, it would be impossible to find enough room to even stick a finger into anything. There is an equally numerous profusion of reef fish to match: clouds of Glass fish, streams of Fusiliers, Snappers, Sweetlips (especially the yellow eyed Midnight snapper variety), Damsels, Angels, Butterflies, a school of juvenile Barracuda… on a clear day there would be such a flurry of movements it can make a diver dizzy. A lone, large purple sea fan stands isolated in the sand channel between the second and third ‘spur’ or finger; in the channel towards Alam Anda, often white tip reef shark would lay at rest, with one fully grown (2m plus) female bold enough to quietly circle divers for a close look down once, sometimes twice, before quietly gliding out into the blue.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 45 – 50m (though growth extends to 75m)
Current : Low to medium
Level of experience : All




LIBERTY SHIPWRECK





This is, without a doubt, ‘the mother’ of all Tulamben dives and the reason why many divers come to Bali. You enter the water wading across a beach of boulders, which can be a bit tricky when the surf is up. Your guide will assist you.

As you swim out towards the wreck, about 50m off shore, boulders and gravel give way to a sandy bottom. You will instantly be surrounded by rather aggressive but harmless goat fish looking for handouts. Don’t pay them any attention and continue over the sandy bottom; you will probably pass a large field of garden eels just as the wreck comes into view. Lying on her side at a 45 degree angle parallel to shore, what you will see first is her port side, much of which is now covered by sand. Your guide will probably lead you on a ‘grand tour’, taking in the entire wreck with her 120m length and 17m beam, usually beginning at her stern heading towards the bow on the deeper (approximately 25m) side, returning over the broken up center part at an average depth of 15m. It is futile to try to describe the variety of fish you will see on any given dive within the confines of this guide; depending on your brains capability to retaining short term memory I would say at least 60% of everything listed in a pacific tropical fish guide!

The most ‘dramatic’ part of the dive may well be as you come round her bow, where the heavily coral encrusted gun is clearly visible pointing down to the bottom. Here you feel that Liberty looms large indeed; the wall to your left is actually her foredeck deck due to the angle at which she is rested. This is also the deepest part of your dive, should you decide to round the bow under the gun where the deck meets the sandy bottom at 28m. Some ‘deeper diving’ enthusiasts might follow the slope at this point, away from the wreck to about 35m to where the Liberty’s anchor chain will lead them to a beautiful coral garden with an abundance of Sea fans and large Broom coral. Macro photographers often hang out here in pursuit of that perfect Pygmy Seahorse shot.

Returning the length of the wreck towards the stern over the shallower center, you may swim thru the cargo hold, and past 3 clearly visible large boilers, and yes, bits of gear from the sophisticated steam turbine. You will probably end your dive doing a safety stop at 5 m near a boom pointing you on your way home towards shore under which big Snappers and Oriental Sweetlips always hang out, completely ignoring you. Or you may surface thru an enormously huge school of swirling jacks (Bigeye Trevally), an almost guaranteed highlight on every dive on the Liberty. Having said that, I should add, that one dive here is not enough. You may return innumerable times, and each time, Liberty will enthrall and surprise you!

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 35m
Visibility : 15 to 30m
Current : Low (though about twice a year they rip during full moon and certain stellar constellations)
Level of experience : All (open water certification)




EMERALD




This is the last site on the rocky shore lines that overlook the ‘Drop Off’, Alam Anda and Batu Kelebit between Tulamben Bay to the west and the next bay to the east, Muntig Bay. It is also known as the ‘Car-wreck’ site as someone had the brilliant idea to sink Toyota mini van here that was no longer in use to form an ‘artificial reef’. It is an eye sore rather, and not worth the bother. The reef flat to the east of it, however, is very rich, and macro photographers like this site’s sandy slope for the – albeit seasonal – abundance of Nudibranchs. While investigating this area in 1998 with my Japanese dive master Yumiko (a not just highly competent and passionate diver, but equally gutsy girl), we followed down the sandy slope, with nothing particular in sight.

At around 48m, Yumiko busied herself with her new digital camera and a crab. Not much of an eye for ‘small stuff’, I looked beyond and noticed a rock that struck me as odd. It jutted out of the sand at 55m for about 2m by 3m wide. This side of Bali is all volcanic, and the few granite rocks that are found in the area were all broken into smaller, cubical pieces by the eruption, or round boulders that were washed down the mountain while rivers were still flowing before the eruption. But this one had a perfectly flat, smooth surface. When I touched it, I was dumbfounded; it was a thick slab of steel. And up to this day I am sure it was not nitrogen-induced imagination. But I haven’t got a clue how it possibly got there, more than 150m offshore, as there are no other known wrecks in the area.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 25m
Current : Low with exceptional very strong bursts formed by eddies when a strong oceanic current hits Muntig bay
Level of experience : All




LIPAH BAY




This site is popularly known as the ‘Japanese Wreck’ in the diving community. A relatively small steel shipwreck, that appears to be a tug, had sunk in this picturesque bay about 3 km to the east of Jemeluk, at a time not remembered. The fact that this site is easily accessible from the shore (park your car on the roadside, gear up, walk down a couple of stairs, wade across the stony beach, submerge and there you are) and that the wreck rests in very shallow water (5m to 12m), makes this an easy dive. It is also a popular destination for snorkelers. Not much, in fact nothing at all, is known of this wreck and how it got here. It may just as well be Japanese; an almost intact squat type toilet on its port side would speak for that. Amazingly for a wreck this easily accessible and shallow, the prop has survived and produces a beautiful, heavily encrusted silhouette.

Due to its small size, the wreck is quickly explored, and divers would continue down the sandy slope dotted by many large, beautiful Gorgonian sea fans (look out for those Pygmy seahorses), purple, white, yellow, red; each one a great photography object by itself. A reef starts to the left, whose top is impossible to describe within the confines of this space. A German lady I took here not long ago (she started diving when Hans Hass published his first pictures) who had explored the tropical seas all over the world for her entire life had this to say: “Breathtaking. The most incredible, amazing coral formation I have seen anywhere, ever”.

You should save this dive for a day when conditions are right (which is most everyday during the dry south-east monsoon from April to November) however, as you may be disappointed when diving this site in lesser conditions, when reduced visibility would dull the brilliance of the colors of the reef. And be aware, since we are now close to Bali’s easternmost point and the ‘Indonesian Through-Flow’ that currents can be tricky, so don’t wander off too far and stay within the protected confines of the bay.

Diveable : During dry, south-east monsoon April – November, occasionally ‘exceptional days’ otherwise
Maximum depth : 30m
Current : Mostly mild but may pick up seasonally
Level of experience : All




CORAL GARDEN





In case your flight to Bali necessitated you to transfer at Singapore’s Changi airport and you admired the various beautiful marine aquariums there, finding yourself submerged at ‘Coral Garden’ will feel like a déjà vu. So much perfection, you will think, had to be done by a creator, intent on showcasing within the confines of a miniature reef (it starts a mere 10m or less offshore, is perhaps 50m wide and 200m long, dropping into a sandy slope at all but 12m depth) everything reefs of the south-western pacific had on offer.

The interaction of healthy soft and hard corals form a stunningly colorful backdrop to all sorts of marine life: hovering small groups of Eye-patch Butterfly fish, Angel fish in all their varieties, Snappers, Coral trout, Lion fish, Puffer- and Anemone fish and Sea perch are just a few to name; look up and you may see a vicious looking but harmless Giant Trevally cruise bye, look closer into niches and crannies, and you may find yourself gazing into a pair of Octopus eyes, and to top it all off, chances that one of several resident Black tip reef shark (totally harmless) shows up to check you out are very real. I often use this site as a ‘last minute’ destination for photographers whose collection is incomplete because they did not find that Ribbon eel. They normally hang out at the outer edge of the reef; the chances that they won’t go home without a close up of a beady-eyed, branch-snouted, gaping portrait of a ‘scream’ are, well, since nothings absolute, 90%!

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 15m
Visibility : 10 – 25m
Current : Low
Level of experience : All (open water certification)




SERAYA SECRETS




This is one of the latest ‘discoveries’ among the Tulamben area’s dive sites. It was named by famed underwater journalist and book author Michael Aw after the new beachfront Scuba Seraya Resort at the center of Muntig Bay in October 2003 (see article Seraya Secrets – the secret is out in a separate section of this book). The name ‘Seraya’ was ‘borrowed’ from nearby Mt. Seraya. At 1174m elevation it towers ver Bali’s north-eastern peninsula, pointing into the ‘Indonesian Through-Flow’ current swept Lombok Strait. At Mount Seraya’s coral encrusted foot lie some of Bali’s – if not Indonesia’s – most beautiful dive sites. Regulars have divided this dive site into 3 sub-sites: Noisy Reef, Seraya Secrets and Deep Secrets.

Noisy Reef to thewest is immediately facing the new Villa Marquisa resort. A miniature reef measuring approximately 50x200m, starting about 20m offshore and ranging from the surface to about 12m maximum depth, it can be compared with Tulamben Bay’s ‘Coral Garden’, albeit lacking the latter’s perfection and with considerably less hard coral. Still, it makes for a beautiful dive; it’s name Noisy Reef came about from the huge number of juvenile reef fish that are found here and are known for their endless clicks and clatter and smacking sounds telling the underwater realm’s moniker ‘silent world’ lies.

Schools of juvenile blue Triggerfish flutter in large numbers above the hard coral but will hide, well, sort of, in the nearest hole or cranny as soon as a diver approaches. They appear to be not so smart fish; ‘I can’t see you so you don’t see me’ seems to be their conviction, as into whatever opening their flight took them, their long forked tails will always stick out and give them away! At the outer edge at around 12m, the reef turns into a black sandy slope. Large numbers of blue dotted Stingrays congregate here, some of them buried deep in the sand. They, in contrast, will take off in a hurry, leaving a dark cloud, as soon as a diver comes too close for comfort.

Seraya Secrets these days known as ‘the beef’ of all sites for naturalists and underwater photographers. To a novice diver who is not as yet accustomed to the minute beauty of the Indo Pacific’s marine macro life, compared to the ship wreck; the place may as well be dead. Take the trained eye of an experienced naturalist or photographer, however, and Seraya Secrets becomes Critter Heaven. The macro bonanza starts as soon as one is able to submerge in water just knee deep: Shore crab, juvenile Moray eels, Lion fish, Anemone Shrimp, Needle Shrimp, Zebra Crab, Coral Shrimp, Nudibranch, Ghost pipe fish, Boxer crab, Coleman shrimp, Frog fish, Mimicking Octopus, Decorator crab, Scorpion Fish; the list is endless. The rare Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta) has become the trade mark of Seraya Secrets: During 2008, it was there for the entire year but one week, after a storm had gone thru and they hid or went to much deeper water.

The site is dotted with small rocks or pieces of coral that would give footage to Feather stars and form individual mini ecosystems. Some of the larger systems have evolved into cleaning stations where fish such as the Coral groupers, Sweetlips or, in the larger systems, Moray eels, would have their mouths and gills cleaned’ tiny shrimp picking out parasites in perfect symbiosis. One larger station at 17m has its resident Black spotted moray that became a star overnight when it graced a full page in the October 2005 issue of National Geographic Magazine!

One large, busy cleaning station can be found at 35m. It sits on an underwater ridge. Approaching divers can point it out from a distance by a school of Banner fish fluttering above. It forms a sort of mini-reef and hence has several reef fish inhabitants such as Angel fish, Coral trout and Wrasses. This cleaning station often attracts large pelagics, and Spotted eagle ray have been seen here, and most recently Dolphins, while one lucky group had a Whale Shark cruise buy while on the look out for this station. Regulars have named this site Deep Secrets.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 35m
Current : Mild, with occasional but rare violent bursts when stellar constellations cause oceanic currents to hit Muntig bay
Level of experience : All




GILI SELANG




Gili (Indonesian for islet) Selang appears to be a huge, broken off rock from the steep cliffs that forms Bali’s easternmost extremity at the foot of Mount Seraya. It gets the full brunt of the Thru Flow as it enters the Lombok Strait. Not only that; sitting squat at the receving end of this onslaught, it would literally split part of the enormous current, causing some of it to rush westward to flow ‘up’ along the coast. A combination of varying intensity of the Thru Flow, tides and wind-created wave action makes for exciting diving, to say the least. I started exploring this site in 1997, always coming by boat from Tulamben. Many years later I visited the area while driving round the eastern isthmus by car and stopped at a look- out near the temple past the marine light tower that commands a spectacular view over Gili Selang from about 150m above; the convergence and swirls of the currents and their immense energies are clearly visible; I could hardly believe I had been diving regularly in that and lived to write about it.

Once in the water, however, with a properly trained guide that is familiar with the area, some drift diving experience and respect for and understanding of the forces that surround you, this dive is quite manageable and may well turn out to be an experience of a lifetime, as you would drift from a north-Bali typical reef environment with inhabitants that include black tip, white tip and grey reef shark into the realm of pelagics that often includes dolphins, hammerhead shark, tuna and mackerel – even Tiger shark have been sighted here – and back into an east-Bali typical reef flat at the speed of an urban commuter train that regulars have named the ‘Selang Express’.

Gili Selang actually consists of three dive sites: the large bay to the north-west of the islet known as Labuhan Kutumanak, the Express round it, and the large reef top area at the lee side to the south-east of the islet. The coral growth in the area is very rich in both hard and soft coral with some of the biggest Arcopora table coral I have seen anywhere, huge bommies and soft coral fields. Everything appears size XL and up, including the fish and a resident Hawkbill turtle. It is also here one regularly sees sea snakes, which is unheard of in the Tulamben area (where they would be snake eels). It is amazing to see how coral adapt to their environment, even to vicious currents as these.

On the swept outer slopes, they would grow to a maximum of 10cm from the floor to withstand the forces of the flow around them; reef fish such as Moorish idols and Clown triggerfish that are often found on this site and that venture out this far into the current (strangely enough they do) can often be seen being swirled around as if caught in a blender; watch your bubbles explode into foam that reminds you of a spectacle such as diving in a Swiss mountain creek, and you understand why.

But all is calm and well when you stay within the confines of the bay and don’t venture out too far. The reef would slope with an increasing gradient to eventually drop into a sandy slope at around 35m, increasing to 50m to the east of the islet. The current would pick up at around 15m, sometimes 20m, and this is your signal to turn back, as the vicious currents often come in bursts, accompanied by a clearly audible boom. Once you are caught in the Express there is no turning back, and you will have to ride it out to the other side of the islet.

What makes Gili Selang so special and – in my opinion – worth the extra effort to get there and the adventure this dive no doubt entails, is that it is a combination of many dive environs; the richness of the reefs of the north-east blending together with aquatic life typical to the south east of Bali. Add to that the full brunt of the ‘Indonesian Through-Flow’ and adjacent deep water (the slope would drop straight down to 200m a mere 100m to the east of the islet and on to 1200m not much further out) with the pelagic this attracts, and you are in for one exciting cocktail!

Diveable : During dry south-east monsoon April – November or if conditions are ‘exceptional’ during wet season. Not diveable 4 days prior and after full moon ‘exceptional days’ otherwise.
Maximum depth : 35m
15m when riding the ‘Express’ as at the convergence of the main- and counter current, they may turn into an unmanageable ‘down’ current below 20m to 25m
Current : None to mild when staying within the confines of the bay not deeper than 15m to 20m, vicious when riding `the ‘Express’ round the islet
Level of experience : All when staying inside the bay with a guide Advanced with at least 50 recent dives and some drift dive experience to ‘ride the Selang Express




DROP OFF




At the eastern end of Tulamben Bay, a Hindu Temple perches on a cliff of sharp, black volcanic rock that drops into the sea to form a rocky reef-top that parallels the shore from whence 3 solid coral growth ‘spurs’ or fingers descend to well below 70m depth. The western side of the spur facing Tulamben bay forms what is known as ‘The Wall’; a sheer vertical drop of 30m and more. Life forms here are essentially the same you would find on the wreck, albeit in less concentration due to much more open space. Fish congregations would increase in density on the outer reaches of the three spurs where currents bring higher concentrations of nutrients. A classic ‘Tulamben Wall Dive’ would have you enter the water at the beach just below the temple and head away from shore with the reef to your right, over coral outcrops past two huge barrel sponges at 12m and 15m respectively to the beginning of the wall which has several caverns and is richly overgrown with sea fans of many colors, various sponges and black coral bushes.

Several enormous ear sponges dot the area; sadly two of those have the names of diving morons engraved in them. You would gradually descend, wall on your right shoulder, to your predetermined maximum depth (30m is recommended) where you would turn right 90 degrees, gradually ascending to about 20m as you continue your dive parallel to shore, with the ‘Drop Off’ now sloping at an approximately 45 degrees angle below you, the blue yonder on your left shoulder. At this turning point, at 29m depth, is the ‘Drop Off’s’ signature highlight: a huge, purple Gorgonian sea fan that would out-span an adult diver, arms and fins outstretched! It is the home of an extended family of shy Longnose Hawk fish, a relatively uncommon deep water specimen. On a sadder note it must be said, however, that at the time of this writing, the size of this fabulous fan that had been known to divers since time memoriam has withered to about one third of its known size and appears to be slowly dying. No foul play seems to be at work, and storms do not cause surges this deep. During my last visit, I removed some algae growth and clams that appeared to suffocate it; but I have no illusion of being able to save it. Probably, a time comes for all things living, and change is inevitable.

It is here that, unless you have the luxury of a dive boat following your progress so that you won’t have to return to Tulamben Bay, some planning is required: should the current run to the east, don’t follow it too far, as you will have to fight it on your way back, drastically upping your air consumption even if you return at a shallower depth until you can take shelter in the lee of the current when you reach the wall again. But currents here are mostly mild, increasing a bit at the outer reaches of the 3 spurs, and run towards the bay more often than not, taking you home again comfortably.

The entire ‘Drop Off’ area is covered with a filigreed, rusty-red and white carpet of fire (hard) coral, consisting of small trees and branches about the size of a human hand. Up to the ‘La Nina’ year of 1998, that carpet extended all the way to the surface. It now forms a clearly defined navigation mark at 12m depth as hard coral couldn’t survive water temperature warmer than 31 degrees, but which prevailed during that year. True to fashion that most living things underwater are constantly engaged in a tug of war, it appears that in several places fire coral – in a quest for the surface and the sun – is attempting to regain the space it had vacated in the zone above the 12m line and that had been occupied by soft coral since then.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 40m (though the reef extends to well below 70m, see note of caution below)
Visibility : 10 – 30m (somewhat clearer outside the bay)
Current : Low to medium (near full moon)
Level of experience : All (but stay within your personal limits)

A word of caution : Although the Drop Off is an easy dive, the formation of the wall combined with the clarity of the water, coral extending down forever and promises of ‘big dogs that lurk at depth’ are very tempting to go deep. Please stay within the safe limits you have been taught by your instructor. Divers do get bent at the drop off! I had an ‘out of air’ situation many years back when doing a decompression dive to find out for myself where the reef really ends. In October 2008, a European solo diver did lose his life; his body was found floating on the surface near the wall, tank empty. Enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Drop Off – don’t push it!




BATU NITI




This site will provide visitors with an experience I like to describe as ‘diving under the volcano’. It is at this point that the major lava flow that descended when Gunung Agung erupted 1963 entered the sea. Thu gush in Agung’s crater rim is still visible today. The ridge that was formed along the side of this flow actually continues underwater. The site is a very steep drop of coral encrusted black lava rock adjacent to a black sand slope to the west that forms the end of Muntig bay. An enormous Black coral bush at the edge between 16m and 22m marks your waypoint as you descend; until 2006 it was completely inhabited by Coral shrimp fish (a.k.a Razor fish as they vertically, face down in the bushes branches like metallic decorations), but they vanished after a particularly rough monsoonal storm. Two dinner plate sized Frog fish live here now.

Another particularity of this site is the huge number of barrel sponges of all sizes and shapes, some of them barely able to hold on to the steep drop. Besides the general reef fish varieties, macro enthusiasts find more of the critters and Nudi branch the area is known for and therefore often forget to look up and miss what else may cruise by: Schooling Barracuda are regulars, and at this is a point jutting away from the main shore line, occasionally, large pelagics cruise by. A German family I had dropped here some time ago swam into a fully grown Whale shark within minutes after submerging.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum Depth : 40m
Current : Mild, picking up at outer extremity
Level of experience : All




ALAM ANDA




This is the last of the Tulamben area dive sites you can access from shore – provided you (and your porters) are willing to lug your gear past the temple to the horseshoe shaped Alam Anda bay with its huge, landmark Keetapang tree. Underwater, it is an extension of the ‘Drop Off’ area and quite similar, although the seascape changes with the drop somewhat steeper, and on its eastern side, huge columns rise towards the surface, forming spectacular crevasses and swim- throughs. Many Arcopora table coral flourish here, some large ones are standing alone and protrude into the current. But make no mistake; their structure is as brittle as Venetian glass art; watch your turns so your fins won’t accidentally break them.

Fish life is very similar to the one at the ‘Drop Off’. This is the spot where you may also see the rather rare spotted Barramundi cod. Alam Anda is also the home of a fully grown Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus). Australians call him the Maori wrasse. It is the largest reef fish anywhere, growing to more than two meters long and two hundred kilograms in weight. Despite safety in size, this fellow is very shy and rarely seen, and if so only for a short while when he would dive deep quickly. Two juveniles appear less bothered by divers. A fully grown Potato grouper is usually found hanging around a large cavern at 35m.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 35m (the reef extends to well below 50)
Visibility : 10 – 30m
Current : Low
Level of experience : All




BATU BELAH



This would be the last site before the vast Culik bay that separates the ‘Tulamben area’ sites from the Amed sites. The black lava rock here appears particularly volcanic and can be razor sharp (impossible to climb on so you should manage your air consumption in such a way that you can make it back to either one of the bays in case there is no dive boat following your progress). Erosion and wave action have shaped some of these rocks into weird looking formations, often with almost human complexions – a reincarnation of particularly nasty fellows, perhaps? There is a big cavern with bats in them, and various tidal pools. On top of an extruding cliff sits the beautiful Manik Kembar Temple.

This Temple was erected because of a holy fresh water spring (air suci in Balinese) that emerges here from the sharp volcanic rock. The particularity of this spring is that it surfaces – below the water line. Only every four years or so, the low tides would be low enough that the spring is accessible; this is when a day and night long big ceremony would be held by local Hindus; a really special and colorful affair. Actually, there are many of these under water springs along the Tulamben coast, a phenomenon that started after the eruption of Gunung Agung when all surface water flows were extinct, and ‘rivers’ now run underground and would reemerge in the ocean, below the surface.

This influx of mineral rich fresh water is also seen as a reason of the appearance of many mutants as well as new specimen of hard coral, unique to this area. This dive site is accessible by car, as a little, well kept road leads to the temple, and a concrete stair will take you down to a little sandy bay where you enter the water; the reef starts immediately to your left; it has a good variety of healthy hard coral and extends to the next bay to the west about 400m distant. It forms a reef top about 50 to 80m wide, and drops to 15m and 20m at the most, where the slope turns to grey sand. Macro photographers are happy with the variety of their finds, especially in the sandy patches on the reef top, and the usual variety of reef fish is present in good numbers. Not many divers visit this site and you will probably have it all to yourself.

Diveable : Year round
Maximum depth : 20m
Current : None to mild
Level of experience : All




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