The liberty is one of the most famous wrecks around Asia for a good reason. The wildlife around the rusty old metal is stunning and very diverse. There is something for everyone here.
After checking in at the dive shop in Tulamben (guide to Tulamben diving) we rented single tanks, registered our names on a board and went diving on our own. Luckily I had two buddies with me while traveling Bali so we could explore the Liberty Wreck in Bali together.
The wreck gets busy with divers during the day so we were diving there at 7 am and after 3 pm. During these times only a few other groups were to be found around the wreck.
We told the dive shop when we were ready and they called porters. The porters carried our tanks to the dive site with the women carrying two assembled tanks on their heads over the rocky beach. Impressive! I would struggle to carry one tank to the dive site.
So thanks to the porters we only had to carry fins, mask and camera for the 5-minute walk to the site. The wreck is nicely positioned 30 m away from the beach.
The USAT Liberty was a US Army cargo ship which was hit by Japanese torpedoes. Surprisingly no one was injured during the attack but the ship was no longer seaworthy. It stranded in Tulamben in 1942. The 125 m long vessel was then pushed into the sea during a volcanic eruption in 1963.
It is now situated at a depth from 3 to 30 m with the deck pointing out into the open sea. It’s also suitable for all levels of divers as part of the boat is shallow and can be safely reached by open water certified divers. Functioning as an artificial reef the wreck is covered in hard and soft coral with plenty of marine life around it.
Marine life to be found around the wreck include schools of trevally, big groupers, bumphead parrotfish, sweetlips, lionfish, scorpionfish and all the typical reef fish including anemone fish. We also found pygmy seahorses but they are gone now.
There is so much to explore and discover so we happily did 5 dives on the wreck without becoming bored. It is also possible to do night dives there.
More in Tulamben
Besides the wreck there are other nice shore dives reachable from the resorts along the beach. We explored the house reef or coral garden which is just straight out from the Matahari resort as well as the drop off. The drop off is a short walk to the opposite side from the wreck and is an old lava flow from Mount Agung.
The reef starts as a sandy slope with some coral patches with shrimp and loads of gobies in the sand. The slope then turns into a reef and further south into a wall. Besides the reef fish which are similar to those on the wreck there are other small critters to be found, like nudibranches, crinoid shrimp, ghost pipefish, frogfish and crabs.
Also there might be bigger fish or a whole school of bumphead parrotfish passing by so you should always keep an eye out into the blue.
A bit further
When in Tulamben don’t miss out to go to Seraya, Melasti or Pura Segara, which are about 15 minutes away by car, if you like small stuff. We had our little trip there organized by the dive shop in Tulamben.
We decided to do a guided dive as we did not know where to find all the special critters. The dive is mostly on sand with some coral patches and single corals. During the 90 minute dive we found harlequin shrimp, frogfish, thorned seahorse, loads of special nudibranches, a boxer crab and pipe fish.