A warty frogfish found at Seraya Secrets on my second dive there in May 2024

Seraya Secrets Dive Site: My Favorite Muck Diving in Tulamben!

While Seraya Secrets is not nearly as well known as the Liberty Wreck dive that Tulamben is most famous for, let’s be honest: the word is out, and Seraya isn’t much of a secret anymore.

This popular muck diving spot is between the Emerald and the Batu Niti dive sites (which is yet another excellent muck diving spot that macro photogrpahers love).

I’ve explored the Seraya Secrets dive site three times and I’ve summarized my experience there below, including photos from my dives!

Dive Site Characteristics & Dive Conditions

Like nearly all dive sites in Tulamben, Seraya Secrets is a shore dive on a rocky volcanic beach, and it has a few amenities that are supported by the local community, who receive a share of profits from the dive operators in exchange for their help.

Many Tulamben locals work at these dive sites and assist the dive shops in offloading tanks, cleaning the bathrooms, selling small snacks, filling the rinse tanks with fresh water for cameras (such a nice benefit!)

Once you get underwater, describing Seraya Secrets is a bit challenging. It’s mostly rather featureless, like most muck diving spots in Tulamben are. But when I say ‘featureless’, I definitely don’t mean boring!

The soft volcanic black sand is interspersed with all sorts of “underwater flora” for lack of a better word: sea squirts, hydroids, crinoids, barrel sponges, anemones, and sea fans.

And yes, I know some of these are technically animals, but when they have a pretty much permanent static location and don’t move much, I mentally categorize them as part of the landscape!

A view of the landscape of Seraya Secrets
Hydroids, barrel sponges, and other life at Seraya Secrets

The true allure of Seraya Secrets its expansive, gradual sandy slope. It leads you deeper and deeper until you reach your maximum depth—we chose to explore up to 32 meters for this particular dive site since we were using Nitrox and doing a no-decompression dive.

Seraya Secrets is split into three sub-sites. There are two in front of Scuba Seraya: Top Secrets (the shallower part of the reef) and Deep Secrets (the deeper part of the reef… shocker, I know). Towards the left side if you are facing the ocean, there’s also “Noisy Reef” in front of Villa Markisa, which is named after all the triggerfish who live here and cause a bit of a ruckus! 

During my dive in the Top Secrets area of the reef, I encountered a rather territorial titan triggerfish who had probably strayed over from the “Noisy Reef” part of the dive site. Fortunately, its main concern seemed to be intimidating other fish, rather than divers like us!

What You Can See at Seraya Secrets

Moray eel seen at Seraya Secrets dive site, hiding in some rocks
Moray eels love to hide between rocks at this dive site!

Seraya Secrets is known for its many rare species of nudibranchs and shrimps who make home amidst niches in the volcanic pebbles and small clustered patches of coral. Of course, you’ll also find the usual suspects like all kinds of moray eels, tobies, filefish, pufferfish, and more.

However, the dive site of Seraya Secrets is mostly a sandy slope, so you’ll want to keep your buoyancy well controlled so that you don’t kick up any sand. This is disturbing both to the little critters who make the sand their home as well as other divers who have traveled far and wide to take photos of these little guys!

Harlequin shrimp hiding in Seraya Secrets dive site
The Harlequin shrimp can be found at Seraya Secrets — often snacking on its favorite food, starfish!

While of course, you can’t guarantee seeing any particular marine critter, Seraya Secrets is notorious for sightings of both the harlequin shrimp (which I saw on my first dive there) and pygmy seahorses (which I saw on my second and third dives there).

If either of those critters are on your dive photography bucket list, you have a good shot of snapping photos of them here!

My Experience Diving Seraya

Sea anemone and clownfish hiding in the tentacles of the anemone in the water
Anemone and clownfish at Seraya Secrets

I’ve done three dives in Seraya Secrets: one in November 2023 (when I based myself diving in Amed, but made a few Tulamben macro expeditions) and two in May 2024. In November, there were so many nudibranchs here and it was a true paradise for me as someone who was just getting started in macro underwater photography.

In May, there were a lot fewer nudibranchs in Seraya and other dive sites in Tulamben — anecdotally, I have heard from other divers that the nudibranchs in Bali disperse a bit when the water is warm, likely choosing to go deeper where they can find slightly cooler waters. So keep in mind that your mileage may very when it comes to spotting nudibranchs!

In November 2023, I saw quite a few different nudibranchs: loads of Mexichromus katalexis nudibranchs, as well as the Hypselodoris maculosa and tryoni nudibranchs. Other interesting sights on that dive included a decorator crab, a ‘Donald Duck shrimp’ aka the longnose rock shrimp and an ornate ghost pipefish, as well as the famous harlequin shrimp!

the long nose shrimp aka donald duck shrimp seen at Seraya Secrets in November 2023
The first time I ever spotted the longnose rock shrimp, aka the Donald Duck shrimp

However, despite the lack of nudibranchs, I liked Seraya even better when I came back to Tulamben to dive in 2024.

Why? Well, during my May dives in Seraya, I did manage to tick a major item off my underwater photography bucket list: a beautiful capture of a pygmy seahorse!

In May, on my first dive there I spotted its pygmy seahorse!

Pygmy seahorse on a sea fan
So happy to spot a pygmy seahorse here!

Besides the pygmy seahorse which was a definite highlight, I also spotted clownfish in some anemone (and a feisty anemone shrimp hiding in there as well), a yellow-edged moray eel, a juvenile ribbon eel (black and yellow), a whitespotted boxfish, several emperor angelfish, a white leaf scorpionfish, a Lisa’s mantis shrimp, and a crinoid shrimp.

I also saw one of favorite underwater scenes I’ve seen — an adorable greyface moray eel hanging out with a giant map pufferfish who was resting on the sea floor.

I don’t know why, but I felt like this was such a wholesome underwater moment, and I love seeing unexpected underwater friendships (or truces, at least). It just looked like two bros having each other’s backs and I loved it!

Pufferfish and eel hanging out underwater
A moray eel and a pufferfish duo — something I’ve never seen before.

On my second dive at Seraya in May, I saw a group of four hanging out in the shallows — they really like this area for some reason!

And much to my delight, I saw the pygmy seahorse again, hanging out on the same sea fan as the first time — I was able to get a much better picture on the second try, to my delight!

A warty frogfish found at Seraya Secrets on my second dive there in May 2024
You can sometimes find frogfish!

I saw more moray eels, several flounder, an ornate ghost pipefish, the largest scrawled filefish I’ve ever seen.

I also spotted two different nudibranchs species hanging out (a Glossodoris cincta and a Ceratosoma tribolatum), a very colorful warty frogfish, and a very cute scene of a symbiotic relationship between a pistol shrimp and a goby.

A colorful white nudibranch (sea slug) and a colorful pinkish-nude nudibranch
Two nudibranchs — Glossodoris cincta and a Ceratosoma tribolatum — right next to each other!

Overall, Seraya Secrets is one of my favorite dive sites in Tulamben and it’s definitely one of the highlights of the Bali muck diving scene.

As well as some of the dive sites in Pemuteran about three hours away to the west, Tulamben is home to some of the best muck diving you’ll find in Bali!

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