Indonesia October 2012 – North Bali

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 10:20 am

On Saturday, we piled back into the minibus and headed east. Our next hotel was in Tulamben, one of Bali’s most popular SCUBA destinations.

But first, we stopped for a couple of muck dives at Puri Jati, about an hour east of Pemuteran. AquaMarine has installed a great little facility here on the beach, with rinse tubs, showers, bathrooms, and someone to make you lunch.

Today Jeff and I were both celebrating milestone dives: our first dive would be his 600th, and our second was my 800th. (I am unattractively proud of being so far ahead of him.)

Like Secret Bay, Puri Jati is a shallow sandy dive site chock full of random critters. Janri found us frogfish, ornate ghost pipefish, a coconut octopus, and imperial shrimp.

On both dives, we kept running into a pair of mating cuttlefish! They occasionally took a break from courtship to investigate us.

We packed our things back into the van after two long, satisfying dives, and continued on to Tulamben, home to one of Bali’s most popular dive sites: the USS Liberty. This 120-meter WWII-era cargo ship lies just offshore, and all the dive hotels are clustered nearby. We stayed at Puri Wirata Dive Resort, a small hotel of 8 bungalows clustered around a small garden with a pool and spa.

The only downside of the Puri Wirata is that it’s not RIGHT next to the beach (like the Ocean View Resort, which has an attached dive shop which AquaMarine uses). It’s easy walking distance, but down a bit of a hill that’s less fun to come back up. I wholeheartedly recommend it if you want a nice quiet place to stay that costs less, but only if you don’t mind a little extra exercise!

We gave the hill a test drive that night: our first dive in Tulamben was a night dive on the USS Liberty. We entered at dusk over what quickly became my LEAST FAVORITE BEACH in Bali: the shore here is made up of the kind of loose rocks that I would describe as “ankle-breakers.” Pointy ankle-breakers. We tried to be all “tough California divers” about it, but it wasn’t long before we agreed to at least let Janri carry our cameras safely in and out of the water while we wobbled over the rocks.

It was full dark by the time we reached the wreck, so we concentrated on macro photography. Janri took us straight to a pygmy seahorse that smiled for the camera:

The current was with us on the way back, which I greatly appreciated as it gave me a chance to rest a bit before hauling my butt back over the rocky beach and up the hill to our hotel! Even though Puri Wirata is small, it still has its own restaurant. When we walked upstairs for dinner, there were no other guests in sight, and the staff were all relaxing watching television. They sprang into action immediately, though, and whipped up some truly delicious food. It’s not often you have an entire restaurant catering just to you!

We kept diving the Liberty all of next day and the following morning. It gets quite crowded with divers during the day, so our first dives were between 6am and 7am in an attempt to beat the rush! Sometimes in the morning a school of bumphead parrotfish hangs out by the stern:

It’s a truly enormous wreck with lots of cool areas to explore.

Most of the wreck is a bit too deep for me to be able to get good wide-angle video of it – but I did find this awesome little mantis shrimp chopping up his dinner. This is another video you should turn the sound on for:

On Monday, we did an early morning dive on the Liberty but then hopped on a jukung for 2 dives a bit further afield. What’s a jukung, you may ask? This is a jukung:

What a great way to travel!

We dove at Blue Hillside and Pulang-pulang: both sites were similar to Puri Jati. At Blue Hillside, Janri was even able to tempt a Wonderpus out of its hole for a few photos!

That night we did one more shore dive on the Liberty – my feet had pretty much HAD IT, even through my moderate-thickness booties, so I wasn’t sorry it would be the last time over the rocks!

The best part of the dive was completely impossible to catch on film or camera: we found ourselves in the middle of a school of flashlight fish. When we covered our lights, it was like being surrounded by enormous green, schooling fireflies! Absolutely beautiful and a bit surreal!

Tuesday morning we were on the move again…..

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