Simply stated, Tulamben is scuba diving…
This small town on the north-east coast of Bali owes its relative prosperity to the constant flow of divers who visit from all over the world to experience its principal attraction – the Liberty shipwreck.
While diving may be it’s lifeblood, Tulamben’s life-source is Mount Agung, the large volcano the town sits in the shadow of.
The two are inextricably linked as it was the massive eruption of Mount Agung and subsequent earthquakes in 1963 which lifted the grounded remains of the Liberty from Tulamben beach and rolled it unceremoniously down the slope to it’s final resting place some 40m offshore.
In the process the back of the ship was broken and the wreck was left on its side with the stern just 3m below the surface, at its shallowest point, and the bow in about 28m.
The explosion of Mount Agung was a major disaster for the people of northeast Bali and an estimated 2000 people are believed to have died, with another 100,000 made homeless.
The fatal eruption occurred on the 17th March 1963, but the volcano had become active again the previous month when it started rumbling after laying dormant for almost 300 years.
The March eruption literally produced rivers of lava that poured down the slopes of Mount Agung and decimated huge swathes of northeast & east Bali.
Much of that damage is hard to tell these days when viewed at ground level, as it is now covered by vegetation, but that took a long time to happen as unlike the rest of Bali which enjoys a lot of rain, the Tulamben area does not as it sits in the rain shadow of Mount Agung.
When I first visited the Tulamben area in 1999, I was struck by the harsh & barren look of the landscape some 36 years after the eruption.
The Google Earth view below does however illustrates the lava flows and one can only imagine the combined destruction wrought by them and the earthquake on the local population.
Mount Agung and its lava flows
Next Page: Diving Tulamben
Back To: Scuba Diving in Bali