Here I am, back in the wonderful island of Bali, Indonesia. Yes, even though I hang my hat in Phoenix, Arizona I still love coming back to my “second home,” Indonesia. Bali is always an amazing island with its traditional Balinese culture, touristic areas, but especially for its diving. I get off the plane and all I can think of going to warung (café) Dulang for some great soto ayam (chicken soup Indonesian style) so I did. I arrived late September 2011 in Bali and was welcomed with a new Starbucks right in Kuta. Yes, this dude loves his coffee and free internet to boot. I stayed at the Alam KulKul boutique resort in Legian. A great quiet place to chill from the busy Kuta metro area. Breakfast buffet was exceptional and the service amazing. I am headed back there next year for sure!
After a good night sleep I was picked up at 7am by one of the Aquamarine vans to go on a 3 day diving excursion. I have used this diving outfit over 4x the last 5 years and they are just tremendous. The office staff, drivers, and dive masters are superb and now they are like family. Took the 2 plus hour trip up to the northern part of Bali and made it in time for a late morning dive in Tulamben.
Tulamben is a special village to me since this was where I took my first dives after I became PADI certified back in the early 2000s. You have the famous wreck (the UST Liberty Shipwreck) dive and great wall diving. Visibility is usually good to great and there are 3 main areas to dive just in front of /close to your hotel. In fact it would take you about 6 tank dives to see all of the diving in Tulamben and then you would want to go back again and do a couple more of the wreck dive. I did a couple of sunrise dives (in the water at 6am) and it was just magical. Also on my other dives saw the lone barracuda chilling with one eye open. Also a lone white tip shark that would pace at around 25 feet down chilling waiting for his next fish or my leg. Of course you never know if they will be pouncing on you so the zoom lens works it magic so I don’t have to get too close. As my dive master, Mul, said you can get as close as you want and I will stay behind you! A smart dive master I had! On a side note Mul has become a great friend to me over the years. He has two wonderful kids and a wife who pines for him to come home each week. They are a blessed family. Over a couple Indonesian dinners I walked Mul through the podcast on iTunes since he wants to learn Mandarin so he can converse with his Chinese dive guest.
I was with Aquamarine for 4 days and did 10 dives with them. We went to Amed, another area in north eastern part of Bali for some great diving. I never dived the 20 meter Japanese steel freighter that was down about 20-25 feet in Amed. That was really cool. But went back and dived the Amed wall which never bores us divers. Tons, and yes I mean lots of sting rays, big and small fish, and the occasional turtle are always giving you wonderful video and picture shots.
I stayed at the Mimpi resort at Tulamben and was happy with it. Even though the service was great the food at the restaurant was overpriced for the portions and the “beach front” room was on the beach but hidden by walls. So I was not that impressed since it seems like management has not kept up with the times, the rooms were overpriced as well as the food. I will be visiting other resorts in the area next time.
Can’t wait to get back to Bali next year and for sure will be diving with Aquamarine again.
Cheers for now.
Aka: Doug Gulleson
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