Written by: Matt Newkirk
Destination: Tulamben and Amed, Bali
Visited: June 2018
The small villages of Tulamben and Amed provide some of the best scuba diving in Bali. Divers of all experience levels, from open water to dive master, will all enjoy the stunning visibility and calm waters off the coast of Amed and Tulamben. The dive sites here are home to a mind-blowing variety of tiny invertebrates, as well as larger pelagic species. In addition to the vast array of marine fauna, Tulamben and Amed are home to two sizable shipwrecks.
Whether you are a macro-photography enthusiast, a wreck explorer or just a beginning diver looking for calm water and a place to experience a beautiful underwater world for the first time, this stretch of the North-East coast of Bali has something for everyone.
Coral Garden Tulamben Bali
Up until pretty recently, Amed was a small farming and fishing community on the Northeast shore of the Island of Bali. Situated at the foot of Mt. Agung about a three-hour drive from the Bali airport, Amed is characterized by its lush green rice terraces and rocky black sand beaches.
The first time I visited Amed was in the summer of 1999, while I was in college. At that time, only a few shops lined the dusty road through town, and you were more likely to see cows than people on a typical day in Amed. Almost 20 years later, it is clear that Amed is growing up fast.
Today the road through town is lined with hotels, cafes, yoga studios, and dive shops. Foreign investors are moving in quickly, buying up plots of land to open up shop, selling everything from spiritual retreats to vegan pizzas in this tiny stretch of paradise.
Black Sand Beach Amed, Bali
Despite this, Amed maintains a laid-back, local vibe. You will encounter farmers tending their rice in the terraced paddies, village kids racing each other on BMX bikes, and the smell of babi guling (suckling pig) roasting on open spits along the road; all set to a soundtrack of buzzing motorbikes, and the ethereal tones of the Balinese gamelan orchestras as you pass one of Amed's many Hindu temples.
Dive Boat Amed Bali
I came to Amed in 2018 to scuba dive, and the black volcanic shores just behind the restaurants and yoga studios did not disappoint. I have spent the past three years diving all around Southeast Asia, and I can tell you that the waters off the Eastern coast of Bali are about as good as it gets.
The Smallest Lionfish ever
Suba diving in and around Amed has it all, shipwrecks, schools of trevallies and bump-head parrotfish, some of the most diverse macro critters that I have seen in Asia, and even giant mola mola (sunfish) when the colder currents come up from the South in July thru November.
Butterflyfish Amed Bali
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a crab
After being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942, it was hauled onto the beach in Tulamben awaiting salvage. It sat on the beach until 1963 when earthquakes caused by an eruption of Mt. Agung pushed the Liberty into its current resting place just offshore.
With the stern resting at around 30-meters and the bow practically on the beach, the Liberty is a divers dream come true.
Blue Spotted Stingray Bali
Amed and Tulamben are also home to some of the best artificial reefs I have ever seen. While I support the idea of building artificial reefs to repopulate the diminishing coral populations, rarely have I enjoyed diving in them. They typically consist of a bunch of cement and other "junk" piled together and are about as exciting as diving in an abandoned parking garage. The reefs in Amed and Tulamben are exceptional.
The coral garden at Tulamben is made up of beautifully carved Balinese statues covered with life. The Pyramid reef in Amed is so full of breeding fish and macro that I could have spent the whole week exploring the cracks and crevices, looking at the many species of nudibranchs, crabs, and pipefish hiding within.
Harlequin Shrimp Bali
You can scuba dive in Amed and Tulamben Bali all year round. The best time for visibility is April to July, and October to November. From July to November, the mola mola sunfish can be spotted along the coast.
We got really lucky on this trip and found an amazing dive shop to take us out to explore the waters surrounding Amed and Tulumben. Amed Zen Divers is a locally owned and operated dive company run by two brothers, Wayan Punia and his brother Alit who grew up in Amed. This dive shop is first-rate with exceptionally maintained equipment. Wayan knew every inch of each dive site and was incredibly helpful the entire trip. My wife and I have more than 600 dives between us, and rarely do we find such an excellent guide to take us diving. Even if you have never been diving before, I would highly recommend the shop as a place to get your open water certification.
Amed Zen Divers Bali
You can reach Amed Zen Divers Here:
+62 818-0553-7926 Phone
+62 819-3666-4400 WhatsApp
Amed provides beautifully clear, calm water, and Amed Zen Divers offers the perfect blend of expertise, safe diving practices, and patience for any level of scuba diver. It is also great to be able to support a local business.
As more Western dive operators move into Amed, many of the local people can no longer afford the rising prices. With a PADI dive company like Amed Zen Divers available, there is no reason not support the local community.
Locals in Amed and Tulamben work as dive porters for shore dives
Wayan even made a special effort to surprise us with babi guling for lunch on our last day when he found out that I am a big fan of the dish. These guys are just so kind and hospitable it impossible not to become friends with them.
Purple Crab Bali
If you are looking for a quiet place to get away for the weekend and relax alongside beautiful beaches, Amed might be the place for you. Compared to most tropical beach destinations, the oceanfront hotels in Amed are a bargain.
For a great mid-range option with swimming pools overlooking the ocean, I would recommend the Arya Amed Beach Resort, or if bungalows are more your thing, go for Apa Kabar (which translates to "How are You" in Bahasa Indonesia).
Sunset over Amed Bay Bali
Whether you are a yogi, free diver, scuba diver, or just a beach bum, Amed is a uniquely beautiful place to spend a few days while traveling around Bali. I am almost reluctant to post this article online because Amed is perfect just the way it is. It is just a matter of time before the full force of the tourism wave hits it. Hopefully, it will adapt gracefully and hold on to some of the rustic charm that makes this little village one of my favorite places on Earth.