The USAT Liberty Shipwreck | Best Tulamben Dive Sites

Bali’s most famous dive site. Built circa WWI this cargo ship was equipped with guns for WWII, torpedoed by the Japanese off Lombok; despite attempts to tow the ship to N Bali it was taking on too much water so was semi-beached at Tulamben. Over the years anything reusable was removed. In 1963, with the earth tremors from the last eruption of Mount Agung, the wreck slid further down the slope where it still lies (as close to the beach as it can be and still be underwater!).

The Liberty lies approximately 30m offshore almost parallel to the beach on the sand slope and is suitable for all levels of qualification and experience. The wreck lies in depths from 9-30m; the shallowest part of the wreck, where it touches the sand slope, is at 5-10m. Depth along the middle of the wreck is 16-20m. The lower edge of the wreck, ie: furthest down the slope, is 20-28m (at high tide). The wreck is 120m long, it’s pretty broken up (ie: no penetration possible) but you can still see the guns, toilets, boilers, anchor chain, etc. It is a lovely dive site, possibly the world’s easiest wreck dive.

You can also snorkel on the wreck – the highest point of the stern is about 4m below the surface. Visibility is usually 18-25m, lower when it has been raining. There is rarely a current present, at most it will be mild. During the 3 days before the full moon, there are usually waves. The air temp is 25-32degrees, the water 26-28degrees. The wreck is very popular with photographers as it is totally encrusted in anemone, gorgonia and corals. The black sand provides an excellent colour contrast for the incredible variety of marinelife, which includes a huge school (literally 100s) of 10-12inch silver fish called Big-Eyed Trevally and over 400 other species of fish.

All the fish are very tame (partly as a result of some guides feeding them, a rather unenvironmentally-sound practice!) from the Goatfish and Wrasse that nibble around your feet and fins during entry/exit to the Unicornfish and Surgeonfish which make a (slightly alarming the first time you see them!) beeline for your mask as you swim down towards the Wreck. It is quite difficult to list what you will see because you’ll see just about everything in any Indo-Pacific Reef Guide book if you dive here. From the minute Anglerfish, neon nudibranches, Ghost Pipefish, shrimp/goby sets, through to the areas of Garden Eels and multi-coloured clouds of anthias and damsels and on to the schools of Sweetlips, Batfish, fusiliers, Butterflyfish, the variety is amazing.

Then there are the invertebrates, the hard and soft corals, black corals, sponges with crinoids, sea fans, tunicates. If you dive early ie: first divers on the wreck (only possible if you stay overnight) you may, may, see turtle. It’s the best time of day to dive the wreck. Night diving on the wreck is great especially during the full moon. You may see Spanish Dancers, flashlight fish, phosphorescence. Where else in the world could you make such an easy – and varied – Night Dive?

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