This is the first of two reviews (the other is of the Pondok Sari at Permutaran) following a two centre diving trip to Bali in April. As it was my first trip to Bali, I can’t readily compare the places visited with other alternatives. So I’m rating the two against each other. The overal rating of ‘5’ for the Tauch Terminal is based on:-
Ambience - 4
Food - 4
Diving. - 5 (or 5.5!)
The Tauch Terminal is a small hotel directly on the beach at Tulamben, which is itself a small village with diving activities and not much else in the immediate area. The hotel is small, with accommodation facing onto the beach, pool and garden area. Food is served in an open restaurant at one side, with lovely sea views.
It is 3 *, so reasonably comfortable, but has limited facilities. The garden area is a bit small, and can get filled up when the hotel is busy. Ground floor rooms have terraces opening out onto the pool area so they are OK, but upstairs rooms have a covered balcony which can get extremely hot during the day, because the sun beats down on the roof. So if the pool area is full you can end up ‘trapped’ in your room because the balcony is too hot and all the pool loungers are taken.
Food was quite good; the availability of unlimited amounts of filtered drinking water is a definite strong point as dehydration is a major risk, especially if also diving. Breakfast was reasonable, although only the first cup of coffee is included in the breakfast, which is hard for caffeine addicts like myself.
The reason why you go there is in the name - the only reason for coming there is for the diving. The Dive Centre is excellent - manager Wolf runs a very safe but totally relaxed centre, and the other staff are friendly and helpful. There is a ‘menu’ of around 20 dives in the immediate area to choose from (walk into the sea from the hotel, take a short van or boat ride); you decide what you want to do the day before, sign up for it and (normally) they will organise a dive, even if there are only one or two ‘takers’. And there’s free Nitrox - I love that stuff. You can also dive and snorkel straight off the hotel, and there’s a lot to see. So hardly any need to come out of the water for a week!
Diving is mainly coral gardens and small reef and garden areas, with a couple of walls. Most things are above 25 or 30 metres, so its good for relatively inexperienced divers and even if you’re more experienced, why go deeper when there is so much life to see without racking up long deco stops. Fish life in the area is excellent, with a good selection of brightly coloured fish of all shapes and sizes. I saw some larger fish too; a couple of Black Tipped Reef Sharks, some rays, big Bumpheads and Groupers, lots of Butterflyfish, striped Sweetlips, turtles and so on. All in all, a wonderful range of fish. They also organise dives to sites outside on some days; we did a day trip to Manta Bay to look for mantas (unfortunately apart from a couple of fleeting glimpses, there weren’t any).
The highlight of the trip for me was the USAT Liberty, which has to be one of the best wrecks that I have ever dived. She is a large (120 m) wreck lying largely intact at 45o - you can get more info from the Internet - but is totally accessible as she is 30 metres or so off the shore, with the sternpost at 2 m or so and the lowest point on the bows at around 30m. The ship itself is a mixture of very atmospheric wreck and reef covered in vegetable and animal life. Unfortunately the proximity and wonder of the site makes it accessible for absolute beginners as well, so it can fill up with bait balls of Asian novices thrashing around without proper equipment (I saw several stonefish, so diving in shortys without gloves is not recommended!). But it is different at different times of day, a night dive is also highly recommended, and you can see a totally different set of fish by swimming over it.
All in all I had a very enjoyable and relaxing week at the Tauch Terminal and would recommend it as a diving destination.