There is a very small coastal town on the east coast of Bali that not many people have heard of called Tulamben. We were told about Tulamben when diving on the Great Barrier Reef with a German diving instructor. It turns out this tiny little village is home to one of the best wreck dives in the world!
The USAT Liberty
The USAT Liberty was a US Army cargo ship that was just off the coast of Bali in 1942 when a Japanese submarine fired torpedo’s causing the captain to beach the boat to save the crew and salvage the boat. Obviously a beached ship is not the best for diving, maybe climbing, however this all changed in 1963 with the eruption of Mount Agung. Lava rolled its way down the landscape, reached the beach, picked up the Libery and rolled it over several times before it laying it to rest on a sand slope in 8 to 28 meters of water. Nearly 60 years later the broken boat is covered in coral and is home to a very diverse selection of marine life.
Taking the opportunity to do out advances course
Because the wreck goes down to 28 meters we thought it would be very worthwhile taking our advance divers course. This allows you brake through the 18 meter barrier and venture on to 30. Also, with the advance course you practice “perfect buoyancy” and this has really helped us become better divers. You essentially have to hover perfectly in the water just using your breath whilst your instructor is giving you weights and then taking them away. We also got to go on a night dive, learn how to take better photographs and master underwater navigation so we can more comfortably dive on our own and not get lost.
Do you need to be advanced to dive in Tulamben? No not really, when we was diving the wreck it seemed that most of it could be enjoyed at 18 meters, but as the advance course here is only £150, and you get 5 dives it well worth it.
There is not really much to say about this tiny village apart from that fact that I love it. These out of the way, non touristy villages are just the best. It has only 11 restaurants and probably spans about 1km. Dinner is usually taken care of with £6 and the Wi-Fi is decent. There is quite a good selection of accommodation here, ranging from dorm rooms to luxury resorts. We chose to stay in Liberty Wreck Divers where a private AC room with en suite was only £14 per night.
The wreck is definitely some of the best diving we have ever experienced and being accessible right of the beach means no boat and lower costs, each fun dive is only £15, that’s insane! There are some corral gardens on all the way along the beach but they really pale in comparison to the wreck.
Being over 100 meters long and quite broken up it will take you many dives to fully explore it. In sections most of the paneling has either fallen off or eroded so you are able to safely venture inside with no change in visibility, however the entrance we used was quite small!
Finally getting some luck we managed to find two large turtles and this was a real treat. I managed to get really close with my camera.
There are a couple of things to note if you are thinking about coming to Tulamben but they are only minor. You need booties, the beach and paths are not for bare feet. All the dive schools do provide these, but incase you are brining all your own gear make sure you pack booties. The second is just a slight warning that it can get very busy and there were a few occasions where people were getting in each other’s way. As long as you don’t expect to have the wreck to yourself you will love your time here!
About a 10 minute drive down the road there is another wreck called Boga Wreck and this is by far our favorite dive to date. The wreck is only 35 meters long and because it only sunk 5 years ago it still looks like a boat. At 28 meters you are able to enter the ship from the top deck dropping right in to the hull at 31 meters. This is where you see the remains of a jeep that the ship was carrying when it sunk. Making your way to the bow of the ship you can venture up to the second level where there are some old SCUBA tanks and a statue of a Buddha. Finally on top deck you can pose for a photo by the steering wheel, or what’s left of it.