Diving the USS Liberty Wreck, Bali Indonesia
Indonesia is the world’s largest island country situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans. The island itself consists of more than 17,000 islands. It is the world’s 14th largest country in terms of land area and the world’s largest country in terms of combined land and sea area. Being the world’s 4th most populous country, it is home to an estimated population of over 260 million people.
Bali is one of the most beautiful islands in the world and is now ranked one of the most popular dive destinations, many visitors are attracted by the good shore-based resort diving set against an amazing backdrop of magnificent volcanoes and picturesque landscapes, makes this island simply irresistible.
On the northeast coast of Bali, sits a small fishing village called Tulamben. It is here where divers congregate to visit one of the world’s most popular dive sites, the wreck of the Liberty US Army Transport ship and experience the Tulamben diving.
The History of the USS Liberty
Now known as one of the best sunken ships in the world, the USS Liberty Wreck is the most famous dive spot in Bali. In 1942, the USS Liberty, a World War II cargo ship, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Lombok Strait. Miraculously, nobody was hurt in the attack, but damage turned the ship into a non-functional and useless hull.
The USAT Liberty is also known as the Liberty Shipwreck, USAT Liberty Glo, the USS Liberty, Hog Island Hull No. 517, and SS Scooba.
A plan was made by the American Navy to tow the ship back to Singaraja harbor (north Bali), however, this failed due as the harbor was completely occupied. Its captain was forced to steer the ship onto the beach at Tulamben Bali where it was unloaded.
It was here that the boat remained until 1963, when the lava flows from Bali’s greatest volcanic eruption from the nearby Mount Gunung Agung pushed the ship back into the ocean, to where it lies now, on a sandy slope in 9 to 30 meters of water for all divers to visit.
Since the eruption, the wreckage has been coated with coral turning this piece of history into an extraordinary new home for a number of marine life. The 120-meter long shipwreck rests parallel on a 90-degree angle to the shore, with the deck facing the open sea.
Tulamben Bay, like the rest of Bali, is situated in the world’s richest marine biogeographic zone: The Indo-Pacific. Bumphead parrotfish, barracuda, and Napoleon wrasse are regularly spotted around the wreck.
Scuba Diving the USS Liberty Wreck
The USS Liberty shipwreck is covered in marine life that has transformed the ship’s remains into an underwater haven. Due to its popularity, the shipwreck does get overcrowded, therefore it’s advised to dive there early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
The shallowest part of the wreck is in about 5 meters of water with the deepest on the other side in a depth of 30 meters. This impressive ship stretches over 120 meters long and sits just 30 meters from the beach of Tulamben.
The World War II cargo ship is broken but is still an outstandingly large shipwreck to explore. Up to 100 divers descend on the wreck each day during high seasons.
This location is also an excellent place for a great night dive Bali! But the real treat here is the wreck diving in Bali as this is definitely a must do.
The Tulamben wreck is an all-around underwater wonderland just beaming with a vast variety of marine life. It’s very popular with photographers as the vessel of this large wreck is encrusted with gorgonians, corals, and anemone.
With the black and providing a color contrast, the shots you can capture at this dive location are truly unique. Large fish such as the sunfish, barracuda, scribbled filefish and Napoleon fish surround the wreck on a daily basis.
Bali’s common reef fish are also found within the wreck, these include; coral trout, surgeonfish, peacock grouper, unicornfish, and angelfish. Schools of big-eyed trevally, bream, fusilier and anthias mill can be seen all over and around the wreck, whilst often following you during the dive.
The Liberty wreck is simply alive with life. The corals, gorgonian fans and sponges are just breath-taking, along with the invertebrate life that lives within them. Large sweetlips, butterflyfish, angelfish, anemone fish, and batfish hover in crevices and underneath the ledges.
The spectacular beams of marigold cup corals shimmer in the sun, where hundreds of shrimp meet you at every corner. This really is a world class dive site and is one not to be missed. Underwater photography experts and divers alike will be in their element with so much to see and explore.
Watch as the Lionfish stalk their prey, alongside the rare nocturnal oscillate dwarf lionfish. See the vast variety of corals and invertebrates along the wreck, wait for the larger fish during specific seasons, the most popular being the Mola Mola, the oceanic sunfish, and the gentle giant whale shark.
When heading back towards the shore on your dive, you will be able to see a colony of spotted garden eels, with their heads swaying as if in a gentle breeze as well as goatfish nuzzling its way through the sandy rubble. If you keep your eyes peeled, may also be able to see the rather peculiar sight of free-swimming crinoids in search of a new hold within the wreck.
The reef is dominated by hard corals, fire corals, leather corals, and some very large table corals which support the diversity of fish population within the area. Local residents have even been praised by professional divers for minimizing the local fishing activity, helping to support this thriving reef and all its residents.
Dive Conditions on the USS Liberty Shipwreck
The famous Bali wreck dive, the USS Liberty Dive is completely covered with corals and hundreds of different species of fish that inhabit it. It is estimated that some of 400 species of reef fish live within and around the wreck itself, which is also visited by over 100 species of pelagic. This is such a remarkable number for an area only 120 meters long and is without a doubt one of the main reasons hundreds of divers come here each year.
Visibility usually ranges from 15 to 20 meters on a good day, making it an ideal dive for the underwater photographer. Water temperature is roughly warm at about 28 to 29 degrees.
With the wreck being so close to the shore, night diving is particularly popular and memorable. Night dives are best to do on the slack tide. During the night you will be able to see the outstanding flashlight fish amongst the black corals as they shine bright like a starlit sky.
Tulamben wreck divers will never leave disappointed. Remember to do some research and choose a well-reviewed Bali dive center. You will be in for a treat when you do, as the diving in Tulamben Bali truly is just out of this world.
When is the Best Time to Travel to Bali?
Bali scuba diving is all year round, however, the best conditions for the diving season runs from May to November. April and May are the best months to be able to see manta rays and the best time or season to see the famous Mola Mola, the oceanic sunfish, are during the months of August to October.
The dry season in Indonesia is between the months of April and September, but the very best time to visit is between September and November. During this time the weather is generally calmer and it is the start of the southeast monsoon, which usually extends from May to July.
Where is the Best Place to Stay in Bali?
There are many places to stay in Bali and many Tulamben dive resorts are located within the area, so be sure to do some research before booking.
A very popular choice is the award-winning Tulamben Dive Resort located in the best-rated locations in Tulamben! The resort has various levels of accommodation, some of which include terrace view cottages which are just beautiful.
After a long day scuba diving, why not kick off your fins and relax and the Bali dive resort and spa and make your dive holiday one remember. And don’t forget to take your underwater camera!!