The USS Liberty wreck in Bali

One of the best wreck dives I’ve ever done, the USS Liberty wreck was a U.S. Army cargo ship hit by a Japanese torpedo in January 1942 near Bali. Two other ships managed to tow it to the beach in Tulamben, on the eastern shore of Bali (right next to Amed, so perfect to visit on your way to or from the Gili Islands for some more diving). Fortunately for us, the tremors associated with the eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963 made it slip on the sand and come to its current resting place at an approximate depth of 30m, where it’s become one of Bali’s top dive sites and home to numberless corals and fish.

USS-Kittiwake-Wreck

Even though the maximum depth is a little over 30m, parts of the huge ship are as shallow as 8m, and it’s not uncommon to see groups of snorkelers admiring it from the surface. Although you’ll need to be an Advanced Open Water diver to see the deepest parts, Open Water divers can still have an amazing time exploring up to 18m deep, and won’t need to feel like they are missing anything important. The ship is in relatively good condition but far from intact, and it’s possible to swim and see through most of it, so 18m is good enough to try to guess what the different structures used to be and picture the ship in its full former glory.

 

If you want to save some money, this is the perfect site for you to start practicing your underwater navigation! At least some dive shops in the area will allow you to rent equipment and go diving with your buddy without the need for a guide. If you feel comfortable enough, it’s a great way to explore this site and a couple others nearby ones for as little as $20. Me and my dive buddy ended up going to the wreck and a beautiful wall dive in the small bay where the fastboat from Gili Trawangan dropped us which featured an underwater temple. The dive shop we used in Amed also arranged a car to drive us to the wreck, about 15 minutes away, but if you want to save even more money it’s possible to rent a scooter and just drive there with your gear on.

tulamben2

Once you get there, the wreck couldn’t be any easier to find: not even 50m from the beach, in waters clear enough to see it as soon as you go below. You will almost certainly run into other divers there that you can ask for directions, and if in doubt just follow the bubbles, look under the snorkelers or simply follow one of the groups going in, being such a popular site there’s always someone around. Speaking of which, if you decide to do it without a guide and can choose, you’ll probably want to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

 

The wreck itself is of course the main star of the dive, but don’t let it distract you too much from appreciating all the life around you! Apart from the coral and big sponges, we saw a couple of huge groupers, lionfish, a few small rays in the slope just south from the wreck, a very curious moray eel and several beautiful fish that I couldn’t even identify.

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