We drove to Tulamben today, which is a couple of hours north of Sanur in Bali. Just a short swim from the restaurant on the shore is the wreck of the Liberty, which was sunk by a Japanese sub in 1942 and is a great dive.
It was about a three hour drive from Sanur to Tulamben, and although the drive is not unpleasant, you wouldn’t want to be doing it more than once per holiday. Next time I dive there I will spend a couple of days at the Puri Madha Dive Resort, which is the closest accommodation to the beach entry.
We were dropped off at the resort’s restaurant, where we geared up and entered the water, via steps onto the rocky foreshore.
The Liberty wreck starts about 50 metres offshore from the resort, in about 12 metres of water.
The water was very warm, averaging 29 degrees Celsius and visibility was very good at 215-0 metres, considering how close to the shore the dive is.
The Liberty was a US cargo ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 while on the way to the Philippines from Australia. The vessel was heavily damaged and could not make it back to a port, so it was run aground on the beach near Tulamben, where it rested until tremors from the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 pushed it into the sea.
The Liberty wreck is broken into two or three main sections making for easy and interesting swim throughs. The sandy bottom slopes down rapidly from the start of the debris, maxing out at around 30 metres, though to extend your time exploring the large wreck you can comfortably swim around in the 8-17 m range.
The Liberty wreck is a bit of a treat compared to most others. It’s in warm, clear water a short swim from a resort with a restaurant/bar, it has plenty of easy swim throughs and is full of fish. And I shouldn’t forget the Tulamben Porters, who were amazingly talented at carrying two tanks at once and may be the solution to annoying logistic issues caused by sidemount diving.
We had two dives on the USAT Liberty, with lunch served in between. Both dives were fantastic experiences and I would highly recommend adding it to any diving itinerary in the Bali/Gili area.
Most dive shops out of Sanur will make the run up there if there is demand, though the six hour round trip is tiring, so next time I will be staying at the resort for a couple of days.. which of course opens up night diving on the wreck as an option.
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