Villa Markisa provides a safe, high quality dive experience in a well run comfortable resort in rural East Bali. The resort offers great safe diving for beginners as well as interesting and diverse dive sights for more experienced divers. As opposed to Nusa Panida, an island in the south with great drift diving, Tulamben is much calmer and safer. Many of the resorts in this area, although cheap, looked a bit rough around the edges. Villa Markisa offers a much higher level of service at a good price.
We stayed four nights in bungalow 1, plus had a small room, 5, for our son in the main house. The bungalow was spacious with high ceiling, lots of storage and a daybed. Windows wrap around the bungalow so it is filled with light. It was new, clean,and well maintained. The bedding was comfortable, but not luxurious. You are given limited number of towels,but can request more. Some basic toiletries (shampoo and soap) are provided, but with others, like sunscreen bug juice and lotion there is a small charge. As I usually bring those anyway, I thought this was just fine, especially at the reasonable price you are paying for the room. The rooms are cleaned once a day, while you are having breakfast--very efficient!
The bathroom is completely outdoors. It is nice to have the big outdoor shower, plus there is a pretty garden area. But storing make up outside in the heat doesn't work. There was a desk in side where I kept most of the toiletries.
There is a mini fridge, a pot to boil water and some instant coffee and tea, unlimited drinking water and a few mini bar indonesian snacks for purchase.
A big deck out front with chairs and a daybed provides a terrific view of the ocean. Our bungalow was 1, which is right next to the dive center. We enjoyed the convenience and there was never a noise issue, but it is less private.
Our son had room five. It is very small with no view, but was cheap, had amazing air-conditioning and had a side entrance near our bungalow. It worked well for us.
The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. There is a pool, lovely grass areas with gardens and lots of lounge chairs. Villa Markisa sits right on the ocean so there is an amazing view from everywhere in the resort. There is no beach, just some small black rocks, but we were there to dive, not hang out on the beach.
The diving is extremely well run and very service oriented. They have two boats plus shore diving options. We did a shore dive one day. The waters was pretty chopped up, the the shore entry is easy and the dive guides are really helpful in assisting with getting in and out of the water, plus they were amazing at finding loads of small critters the area is known for. For boat dives you sign up the day before. The boat dives trips were one dive only with the exception of the Japanese wreck dive in Banyunging, where you do two dives and have breakfast on the boat. The ride to most sights is about 10 minutes and we were impressed with the variety and amount of fish and coral. The highlight is the liberty wreck in Tulamben. Before breakfast, to beat the hoards of divers, you leave in the dark. It is awesome--huge and teaming with fish.
The dive guides are all locals. They are friendly, thoughtful and helpful. You never touch your dive gear, they take care of everything. As a beginning diver my son had his own personal dive guide on each dive, which made for a safe and enjoyable dive for all. In addition, as you can stay down as long as you have air, my son would be taken up after about 45 minutes, while my husband and I could stay down for over an hour on each dive.
In between dives they offer very affordable massages in a little bungalow near the water. There is a nice boutique selling well priced gorgeous sarongs. Other than that, there is not much to do at the resort, which was fine as we kept busy doing up to 3 dives a day. The town itself is really just a few huts and driveways on the road and the beach is not a wide white sand walking beach.
The meals were enjoyable, with the exception of dinner. All meals are served in a lovely outdoor pavilion with a view of the ocean, gardens and fish pond. Everyone eats at one long table. The breakfast and lunch selections were varied and of good quality. They offered several choices, both Indonesian and European. For breakfast they had bali coffee in a press followed by fruit and your main course. During breakfast you make your lunch selection. This pre-ordering made lunch service quick, but it was not optimal as we would order a light selection and then come back from the morning dive ravenous, wishing we had ordered something different. But the dishes were all nicely prepared and a dessert was offered (even if you did not pre-order it). Service was always prompt and pleasant. Dinner was not as good as breakfast or lunch. It is served as a buffet starting a 7 each night. By 7 we were starving (we should have gone to the afternoon tea, but never made it). The service was brusk, only one stern woman who seemed very concerned that we were not taking too much food. Thank goodness there was always lots of steamed rice and usually a chicken dish. Many of the other steamers contained an odd jumble of European and Indonesian options that were often a bit overcooked. Such a let down after the nice food and service at breakfast and lunch. Still, the price we were paying was very reasonable, but I would have not minded paying a bit more for some better options at dinner.
One other nit was when you did the early morning dive at the Tulamben wreck (we did it two mornings) there is no snack or light breakfast offered before the dive. We convinced the woman at dinner the night the dives to give us each a banana and the press filled with coffee so we could heat water for it in the morning (maybe that was why she was stern with us?) or we would have starved. I recommend bringing snacks and power bars.
We enjoyed our stay at Villa Markisa very much. The owners have worked hard at putting together an exceptionally well run dive resort in the middle of nowhere. I highly recommend Villa Markisa.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our exclusive resort consists of three bungalows, three rooms in different price ranges, as well as a villa with two generous rooms. All buildings are harmoniously nestled into a beautiful garden, where you can also find a big pool with jacuzzi.Even when fully booked, we offer an individual dive service of the highest standards. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Villa Markisa Dive Resort Tulamben, Bali