Dive Site: USAT Liberty, Tulamben, Bali

On the east side of Bali, Indonesia, Tulamben offers lush rainforest, beautiful Balinese villages, and one of the largest wrecks accessible to snorkelers and divers. 

Tulamben’s main attraction is the wreck of the USAT Liberty, a U.S. Army transport ship from World War II. The Liberty was at anchor off Lombok, a few hours from Bali, when a Japanese submarine torpedoed the ship. No one was hurt, but the damage was so extensive that it was slated for scrap at a nearby harbor. The Liberty was taking on too much water en route, though, and so was beached off Tulamben. It rested there until 1963, when nearby volcano Mount Agung erupted and the tremors sent the wreck sliding out to sea. It now rests on a sandy slope in water 30 to 100 feet deep (9 to 30 m), with the superstructure starting only a few feet from the surface. The wreck itself is an impressive 395 feet (120 m) long, and lies at a 45-degree angle. There are plenty of places where you can explore in relative safety, as it was degraded considerably, and most places offer easy escape to the surface, but do not attempt penetration unless properly trained. The wreck is also home to plenty of wildlife.

The Liberty rests upon a reef, which offers an assortment corals and marine animals. A nearby underwater art installation by a local artist, depicting an airplane, is also worth a visit and often makes for a good second dive. Typical marine life includes clownfish, puffer fish, moray eels and barracuda.

A solid 2-hour drive from the resorts on the south point of the island, Tulamben is nonetheless a highly popular dive site, and most tour operators feature trips here; there are also local Tulamben dive shops. You’ll park nearby to assemble your gear before local women carry it to the beach for you (remember to tip). The beach is black-lava sand, and the surf can be considerable. There are shower facilities in the parking lot, and Tulamben offers several good restaurants and shops when your diving day is through.

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