The Rocky Path from Seminyak to Tulamben

by Emma Kaman (Australia)

A leap into the unknown Australia


After a frenzied impulse purchase in a Jetstar airfare sale, my family was heading to Bali. Immediately I begin researching dives and am quickly drawn to the USS Liberty Ship wreck dive in Tulamben. After months of counting sleeps we arrive in Seminyak; planning to dive around day 5. But plans change. Day 2 my hubby slips in the pool, cracks his head open, is stitched up and advised not to put his head under water for a week. Gutted! There goes the dive. Not so bad as days go by filled with Bintangs, braids, swim up bars, amazing food, Motel Mexicola, Potato Head, Waterbomb park, shopping. All the things that had become a custom on the island for us Aussie tourists. With two and a half days left, the glass half empty part of a holiday, I find myself standing in front of a street vendor advertising dive tours. I simply have to ask “Do you do tours to Tulamben?” Not sure I’d researched this company, Bali Fun Diving, but they could pick me up the next morning at 6 am if I paid half now. After a super quick calculation of the time between diving and flying, money lost if they didn’t turn up and a brief pang for my husband, I handed over the Rupiah. I arrive in the foyer a little before 6 am with some trepidation as I hadn’t grabbed a phone number, WhatsApp contact or anything. As I’m berating myself a van turns up. I jump in and we are off. The now familiar sights of Seminyak, Kuta and Denpasar whizz by as we travel across to the East coast. The roads become increasingly more narrow until we hit two way traffic and that is it - for hours. One way in and one way out. My view from the back seat was frightening; trucks consistently barrelling towards me as we overtake vehicles on the wrong side of the road. My only choice is to let go and put my trust in the universe. I close my eyes and let the undulating swing of the van lull me into a semi-sleep as we pass intermittent villages, warungs, offerings to the Gods, chickens, dogs, street vendors, trees, stone masons, children and beautiful scenery. The van stops and we are in a bustling car park. Amenities wise not much there- one shop and a toilet/shower block, but, people everywhere. Tourists putting on wetsuits, taking showers, checking their gear, locals carrying tanks on either their heads or on scooters making their way down to the beach, local vendors selling T shirts and sunglasses. Still groggy I try on reef shoes, flippers and masks at the back of the van, select nasi goreng as my lunch choice and follow my dive master Jo down the worn dirt path to the beach. Again, not what I was expecting. No white, sandy beach here but black rubble and rocks. A bit tricky to manoeuvre in thongs at some points but we make it down to the other end of the beach where our gear is waiting for us. An even tricker walk is the one into the water past the break with a tank on your back. The uneven ground and swell make me cling to Jo. We finally reach calm water, don our flippers and begin our descent. Aaah! I finally felt like I could breathe. I immediately understood why this is one of Bali’s favourite dives and one of the world’s best wreck dives. The gentle descent, the perfect temperature, the shallow depth at the beginning of the wreck, the clarity, the skeleton of the broken wreck, the amazing sea life clinging to those bones, the cracks in the wreck providing sun-dappled housing for wonderful creatures such as barracuda and eels, the swim throughs, overhangs and identifiable pieces of the ship such as the steering wheel all make this an endorphin rich experience. My heart was full and would be for a long time. Sometimes you have to take a leap.