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 USS Liberty shipwreck, a US Army Transport ship.
The USS Liberty shipwreck dive site is a great introduction to wreck diving. This is because it is not located too deep nor far from the coast. In fact, for many beginners that achieve their Open Water Dive Certificate in Amed, Bali, this will be their first wreck dive.
Here is what you need to know about scuba diving the USS Liberty Wreck in Amed.
Scuba Diving in Bali, Indonesia
Bali is in Indonesia which is the world’s largest island country and is situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Home to an estimated population of over 260 million people Indonesia lays claim to being one of the most populous countries.
Indonesia itself actually consists of more than 17,000 islands and is the world’s 14th largest country in terms of land area. As well as being the 14th world’s largest country in terms of combined land and sea area. Bali is one of the thousands, and possibly one of the most beautiful islands in the world and is now also ranked as one of the most popular dive destinations in the world.
Many visitors are attracted because of the good shore-based resort diving. This set against an amazing backdrop of magnificent volcanoes and picturesque landscapes, which makes this island simply irresistible.
The History of the USS America Wreck Liberty
Now known as one of the best sunken ships in the world, the USS Liberty ship wreck is the most famous dive site in Bali. The USAT Liberty is also known as the Liberty Shipwreck, USAT Liberty Glo, the USS Liberty, Hog Island Hull No. 517, and SS Scooba.
In 1942, the USS Liberty was on its way from Australia to the Philippines to bring supplies and spare parts. Unfortunately, en route, it 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. A plan was made by the American Navy to tow the ship back to Singaraja harbor (north Bali), however, this never happened because the harbor was completely occupied.
Its captain was forced to steer the ship onto the beach at Tulamben, where it was unloaded. It was here that the USS Liberty 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. Dropping it 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 USS Liberty wreck rests parallel on a 90-degree angle to the shore, with the deck facing out to 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
Depth: 20 – 30 meters
Visibility: 18 meters
Dive Level: Beginner
Best For: wreck diving, coral garden
Now the USS liberty Bali is covered in marine life that has transformed the ship’s remains into an underwater haven of life. However, due to its popularity, the Liberty shipwreck can get overcrowded with scuba divers. It is therefore advisable to find a dive center that organizes early in the morning or late in the afternoon dives.
The shallowest part of the wreck sits below approximately 5 meters of water with a maximum depth of 30 meters for the deepest end. This impressive ship stretches over 120 meters long and sits just 30 meters from the beach of Tulamben.
Although this World War II cargo ship is broken it is still an outstandingly large shipwreck to explore. Proving so popular that up to 100 divers can descend on the wreck each day during high season.
This location is also an excellent place for a great night dive in Bali! Experienced divers and underwater photographers alike will marvel at all the colorful sea life.
What makes the dive site so popular with underwater photographers is that it is encrusted with gorgonians, corals, and anemones. With the black and providing color contrast, the shots you can capture at this dive location are truly unique.
The marine life is rich, with large fish such as the sunfish, barracuda, scribbled filefish and Napoleon fish surrounding the USS Liberty wreck. Bali’s common reef fish are also found within the wreck, including coral trout, surgeonfish, peacock grouper, unicornfish, and angelfish, big-eyed trevally, bream, fusilier, and anthias mill.
The Liberty wreck is simply alive with life. 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. 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 coral reef and invertebrates along the wreck. During specific seasons you might also spot larger fish like the Mola Mola, the oceanic sunfish, and the gentle giant whale shark.
When heading back towards the shore, 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. Keep your eyes peeled and you 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 such as fire corals, leather corals, and some very large table corals. Which all help 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 USS Liberty shipwreck dive is completely covered with corals along with the hundreds of different species of fish that inhabit it. It is actually estimated that there are some 400 species of reef fish live within and around the wreck itself.
Divers might also spot over 100 species of pelagics during their dive here. This remarkable number of species for such an easy dive is what makes this a popular dive site.
Visibility usually ranges from 15 to 20 meters on a good day. Making it comfortable for the experienced diver and the beginner. It’s not just the marine life that makes time diving here some of the best, but the water temperature is wonderfully warm 28 to 29 degrees Celsius.
With the USS shipwreck being so close to the shore, experiencing a night dive is particularly popular and memorable. Whether you are an advanced diver or on your first dive at night dive it is best done 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 with a trusted dive guide to get the best experience while respecting the ecosystem of the dive sites.
When is the Best Time to Dive USS Liberty Shipwreck?
Scuba diving in Tulamben, Bali is accessible 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.
The high season to see the famous Mola Mola, the oceanic sunfish, is during the months of August to October. Scuba divers can find these around the Liberty wreck but also nearby dive sites in Tulamben.
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. Sea fans can enjoy a dive resort right on the volcanic beach or find a little more than sea life in one of the more inland accommodations.
A very popular choice is the award-winning Tulamben Dive Resort located in the best-rated location in Tulamben! The resort has various levels of accommodation, some of which include terrace view cottages which are just beautiful.
After a long day of scuba diving, why not kick off your fins and relax. Bali is known for its affordable yet luxurious dive centers and the many cultural activities.
Don’t forget to take your underwater camera to document the marine life of the sand slope the USS Liberty lies on. You will also be able to rent one at your dive center.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Have more questions about the USAT Liberty shipwreck and what to expect when scuba diving in Amed, Bali? Perhaps the answers you have been looking for are below, to convince you to book your trip to this dive site.
When is USS Liberty open?
Because of the calm waters and good visibility, it is possible to dive the USS Liberty dive site year-round, including the rainy season. In fact, divers that prefer to avoid high season tend to visit Bali and the USAT Liberty wreck in April or October.
Do you need to book in advance to visit USS Liberty?
The USS Liberty is in a remote Bali location, far from the more popular tourist areas so it is a good idea to book a day trip well in advance. However, if you are staying in the Amed, Bali region, you can ask the dive centers there for a spot the next day.
The USS Liberty in Tulamben is one of the best sunken ship wrecks to visit as a beginner PADI Open Water diver. The calm sea conditions make it an excellent place to observe hard and soft corals and colorful fish swimming through the wreck’s crevices.