Ocean Villa & homestay and Aqua dive paradise Tulamben

If you open a travel agent website specialized in diving you will find many offers for Tulamben for sure. Also in diving magazines, Balis diving icon, appears on a regular base. But they show  always the same more or less expensive resorts which i don’t want to name here. Today i want to show you a really nice and cheap alternative. The Ocean Villa & homestay is a a little pearl which hides behind the main road around 300 m on the hill. It is runned by Konmang and Tom. A Balinese/Australian couple, really nice people who will help you with everything you want and try to make your stay as good as possible. After a few days you will feel here like home.

The price per night in the highseaosn is around 30 Euro per bungalow, and in the lowseason around 20 Euro per bungalow. The rooms are clean and comfortable with a little veranda. The resort can accommodate around 12 people, so you can enjoy the beautiful garden with the small pool mostly alone. It is an oasis after a day of diving or an offroad trip around Bali.

The restaurant in the first floor of the main house is the highlight for me.  You have an amazing view over Tulamben. Konmang offers a little but selected menu in here. Everything i eat was quite good.  In the morning you can wake up here very softly with a cup of kopi Bali. 
The amazing panorama view from the resteraunt


A nice garden with a little pool invites for relaxing hours


On the back of the resort, Mount Agung rises  in the midst of wonderful riceteracces and offers a picturesque panorama. I went here for many afternoonwalks. Here you can see the traditional Bali, which still exists far away from the crazy mass tourism of Kuta Beach. Little farms, with free running animals like cows and pigs. From time to time a ceremony in the fields. The panorama of Tulamben backside has really something magical which many divers who live in the beachfront resorts even don’t know.

The backland of Tulamben, Mount Agung usually covered by clouds

When you just walk downhill in beach direction you will find the Aqua dive paradise dive center. The cheapest dive center i found in the last 10 years. You can just come with your partner and rent a tank for 5 Euro. Ridiculous cheap! Or you can do a guided off shore dive for around 20 Euro. Which is still  nothing in compare to other places in South East Asia. The USAT Liberty, one of the nicest wrecks you can imagine,  is really in front of the dive center. But they go also to any other divesite around Tulamben. If you have a special request the will comply your wish. I had two early morning dives at the wreck (5:30 a.m.!!!!!), so i had one of the worlds most famous diving sites  with no other divers around me, only with my private guide Putu. The resident bumphead parrotfishs wait for you for a photo shooting at this early daytime. They just hang in front of the wreck and don’t move at all.  Putu find almost everything for me Tulamben has to offer in two weeks of diving. Harlequin shrimps, raspberry colored frogfishes and many different scorpion leaf fishes. A macro heaven! Even the corals suffered a little bit in 2016, Tulamben is still a good choice in Bali, and the Aqua dive paradise team will not disappoint you.

All in all the combination i present here offer a great price performance ratio. The diving is still fantastic and Tulamben is also a great place to take landbased day trips to some of Balis most famous sights.

The reef life of Tulamben has a lot to offer 



Top 10 dive sites of Egypt

Egypt was a little bit out of fashion for European divers as they wanted to go more far to more exotic countries. The political trouble and the Russian mass tourism made it not better. As many other Europeans i made my first fin kicks in the Red Sea around Hurghada. This was back in 1995. I made several vacations in Egypt in the 90s. 20 years later, i came back to the Red Sea and it ist still a diving paradise. While many regions like the Great Barrier Reef or the Maldives  have a  big problem with coral bleaching, the Reefs of the Red Sea, still look healthy.  When it comes to underwatertopography and visibility it is among the worlds best. Many fishes, like the Arabian Angelfish, are endemic. The colors of the corals are special and together with the dark intense blue in the background,  it looks like a 4K video. And anything can happen here, whale sharks, tiger sharks, Dugongs, Mantas, schooling hammerheads. With a little bit of luck you can find almost anything in this big aquarium.

-Ras Mohammed Shark and Yolanda Reef. A soft coral paradise and the most famous wall dive in the world. The wall drop down to 2000 m. That combined with the normal 50 m visibility or more is so impressive that you should be free from giddiness. The fish schooling here is massive, batfishes, jacks and snappers standing in front of the wall. Sharks are very rare nowadays, but everything is possible here.

Huge moray eels, bigger then anywhere else are one of the Red Sea signatures.


Um Hal Hal, Safaga. This little reef can be only reached in very good conditions. It is far outside and the waves here are normally very high. Two litte underwater seamounts built on a huge deep sea pinnacle. The corals here look untouched.  Spectacular topography. Watch out for huge Napoleons size over 2m. On the reef edge sharks are on patrol.

Elphinstone Reef. Close to Marsa Alam. Elphinstone its a must dive site in the area. It is famous for the resident white tip oceanic sharks and also other sharks sightings. Perfect for drift diving. Dolphins like to visit the reef, but any other pelagic can swim by with a little bit of luck. The resident dive centers demand at least 50 logged dives and a advanced certificate to bring you here.

Thistlegorm. A world famous wreck dive, if not the worlds most famous. A british freighter from World War II with tanks and jeeps ammunition and other stuff. Better use NITROX as the wreck is really deep on 30m.

Brother Islands. A scuba diver heaven. Far away from the mainland, can only be breached by LOB. Wall diving at his best. Grey reef sharks, hammerheads and even treasure sharks can be seen.

Daedalus reef. The „hammerhead“ place in the Red Sea. Good to combine with a brothers island LOB. Big schools of sweetlips and bumphead parrotfishs can be found in the shallower parts.

-Jackson Reef, Strait of Tiran. Probably the best dive site in the Strait of Tiran. The Strait of Titan offers many possibilities, but Jackson is my favorite. Schooling barracuda, huge Morays and Napoleons, many turtles, and even a possibility to see hammerheads.

Fantastic coral gardens, a clear blue with a chrystal clear visibility and millions of red anthias like here in Jackson Reef. A divers dream!


-Giftun Island, Hurghada. Probably not the same anymore like in the 80s and 90s. Specially the Big Giftun Wall, was diving at his best. Huge schools of snappers with big gorgonian seafans, thrilling drift dives are possible along these wall. Sadly influenced by mass snorkel tourism, but i wanted to mention on of my all time favorite dive sites.

-Poseidon Reef, El Gouna. A dive in Poseidon reef reminds me a little bit like an underwater dream. The marine life is not so spectacular, but the reef itself is so beautiful, it deserves to be mentioned. It is one of he most relaxing and most beautiful dives you could do.

-Abu Dabbab, not really one of the best dive sites in Egypt. But famous for diving with dugongs. As the possibility here is so high to see one of this gracefully animals, Abu Dabbab, has to be mentioned. At least you will see a lot of dugongs on the surface with mask and snorkel.

Photo school for beginners

Today, underwater photography, to be honest, is much more simple then you might imagine. I not claim for myself to be in the elite of the world. But i want to show you some easy tricks to improve your pictures. I still use my old Canon G12 and 2015 i bought a Canon G7X. Both are compact cameras. I use them in Canon plastic housings together with an INON D-2000 external flash. The equipment is not really expensive but i even won some competitions with my cams. Don’t believe you need to spend a lot of money for DSLR Cameras to make good pictures. 


Deep position of the camera. For a macro pic, normally, it is important is to hold the camera very deep to get a nice perspective of the object.  The wrong angle is the most common mistake in macrophotography. For this hairy froggy,  i press my camera  in the black sand of Lembeh to get as deep as possible.

Lights and shadows. For the light i put my INON D-2000 external flash on the highest possible position to give the froggy light from above. The shadows which appear from the flash bring some tension in the picture. Take your time and try different power-levels on the external flash. As a rule you can say, if you set your external flash more far from your camera you will have less unwished particles in your picture which reflect the flash. A big advantage of an external flash of course. But even, if you don’t have an external flash, good pictures are possible with only an internal flash. Also here, experiment the different power levels!


The crocodile fish was taken with an internal flash on medium strength, no external flash. 

-Don’t move to much to avoid  agitate to much sand which disturbs the picture. Move slow and clever. Every wrong fin kick could cost you some minutes under water as you have to wait until the sand disappear. Of course you can delete everything later on photoshop. But that is not really fun. Anticipate what the fish will do next, where he goes, bring yourself in a good position.


-Do not use automatic mode or underwater mode!! With automatic mode, you will never be able to make high quality pics underwater. Automatic mode is good for a birthday party but not for a coral reef. To special is the light situation underwater. Many compact cameras have an underwater mode, marked by a  fish symbol in the settings. In my experience  the results are ok, but not satisfying. I always use the manual mode underwater. In manual mode you determine the light and sharpness of a picture. You have to set three things. ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

ISO is the sensitivity of how your camera catches the light for the picture. If you set the ISO to high, your pictures have to much noise inside. Try ISO levels from 100 til 400 and not go higher. The quality suffers otherwise.

The field of depth is influenced by the aperture. The aperture is shown by the f-number. It is a little bit confusing to understand. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, while a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. A small aperture leads to a high field of depth but less light. A large aperture leads to a lower field of depth with more light. For the hairy froggy and for other macro objects, you want to set the focus on the fish and not on the surrounding area. So i can use a high aperture with a low f-number. The background will be blurred the object will be sharp. A nice effect.
Blurred background, sharp motive. Play with the aperture

Short exposure for macro motives. With a fast shutter speed motion blur can be avoided. As a result the background appears dark. This is a desired effect for macro images.

This coconut octopus was taken during a day dive with a very short shutter speed. Very dark background is the result.


-Take your time with the object. The best you can do is dive together with a private guide or one partner who understand your target. Photography in groups make less sense. You spend a lot of money get to the other side of the world. And then you have to rush because you dive with to many people.

-Hold the camera in two hands. You get blurry pictures if you hold the camera casually in one hand. It is important to fix the case calmly and stabilizing always with both hands.

-Dont destroy marine life! In Lembeh macro pictures have mostly no „big“ influence on marine life. Of course you lay in the sand, of course you use a flash which irritates the animal. But you not destroy corals at least. In a coral reef the situation can be completely different. If the animal is in a difficult position surrounded by corals, think twice if you want to take the shot. Please don’t break corals or destroy marine life for taking nice pictures.