Located on the parched north coast of Bali under Gunung Agung, Tulamben is an isolated speck on the map with a submerged wreck the primary reason for visiting.
Today, it represents one of Bali's premier dive sites due its proximity to shore, the shallow depth at which it rests and the possibility of exploration of the interior of the hull. Dive shops throughout town can assist with dive options and there is no need to book these excursions in advance, although high season does become extremely busy.
The wreck in question is often mis-identified as the USS Liberty, when it was actually the USAT Liberty (USAT stands for United States Army Transport). The transport ship, travelling from Australian to the Philippines was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Lombok Strait in 1942. The torpedo didn't sink the vessel and an attempt was made to tow it to Singaraja but this was unsuccessful and the ship was beached at Tulamben. where it lay for the next 21 years. In 1963 during the eruption of Gunung Agung, lava flows pushed the vessel down into the ocean and it has been there ever since for your diving pleasure.
This stretch of coast doesn't have beaches in the traditional sense and sunbaking on the boulders on the shoreline is pretty much out of the question unless you're particularly ambitious. Beachside relaxation is better in Amed further to the east or even Lovina to the west and Tulamben is really only worth stopping at for snorkelling and diving of the shipwreck.
Most hotels and restaurants in Tulamben lie along a small strip within 1km of one another along the main Tulamben road. Good eating options are limited: the best bet is to eat local food at Warung Komang and skip the pricey faux-Western options on offer in the one or two other restaurants in town.
A small minimart stocks some pharmaceuticals as well as food and drink at local prices.
The nearest ATMs are either in Amlapura or Singaraja and if you need medical attention, the best option is to head to Singaraja where relatively good medical facilities exist.
By Adam Poskitt