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Tulamben Scuba Diving – The USAT Liberty Wreck in Bali

The USAT Liberty wreck, beached at the little fishing village Tulamben is one of the top diving spots in Bali. This massive wreck is located a couple of meters from the shore and offers great fun dives for all levels of divers. Walking in from the beach the wreck starts in the shallows dropping to over 30 meters deep. The Liberty and Manta Point on Nusa Penida are two of our favorite spots to snorkel in Bali.

USAT Liberty Tulamben
Diving on the Wreck of the USAT Liberty Tulamben Bali

Diving on the Liberty is rated as one of the best shore dives in the world, a spectacular dive, discovering amazing little critters, seeing big fish, and having great photography opportunities while exploring this extraordinary wreck. Bali has a great variety of dive sites, dive with the strange oceanic sunfish, swim with majestic manta rays, or drift dive on spectacular walls. Check out our article on All the Best Diving around Bali.

Scuba Diving Bali

Bali offers very diverse diving ranging from diving with big pelagic creatures such as manta rays and reef sharks, unique animals like the large mola mola (oceanic sunfish)  to diving with unreal, alien creatures doing muck diving on the black volcanic sand around Amed and Tulamben. Check out our Complete Guide to Dive and Travel Bali

The USAT Liberty Wreck, Tulamben

This massive wreck of the USAT  (United States Army Transport) Liberty cargo ship is 120m long and located only about 30m from the beach in the fishing village of Tulamben making it very accessible for diving. The Liberty Wreck has an interesting history and today it is maybe the most famous dive site on Bali. The cargo ship was on its way from Australia to the Philippines transporting railway parts in January 1942 when it was torpedoed in the Lombok Strait by a Japanese submarine (World War II). The plan was to mend the ship, but the damage was extensive and while towing her to Singaraja for repairs she started sinking and was beached close to the small fishing village of Tulamben. When the volcano Mount Agung erupted on Bali in 1963 the associated tremors pushed the ship back into the water where she now lays on her side.

diving with turtle on USAT Liberty wreck
A turtle in shallow water on the USAT Liberty shipwreck diving in Tulamben Bay.

Tulamben Dive on the Wreck of the Liberty

The accessibility of the wreck, combined with the depth range and variety of marine life make this one of the most popular wreck dives in Indonesia. The USS Liberty wreck is a shore dive, you enter from the beach and a short swim to where you descend. The entry is tricky, the ‘beach’ is covered in big smooth stones, if you go with a good dive center porters will carry your gear close to the water where you kit up, you might be very happy about this. It is not the nicest area to walk with heavy gear, so until you are floating for some it is a mission! It is common to do two dives with a surface interval, some sandwiches, fruit and a cool drink at halftime on shore is great! The dive starts at about 5m depth going to a maximum depth of around 30m.  We went to the bow section on our first dive, our max depth was 27m at the turnaround point. There is an anchor chain in this area. The bow of the Liberty is encrusted in hard and soft corals and there are some booms, nice structure, and overhangs, be careful when diving here. We saw a large coral-encrusted gun.

Bump head Parrot fish on wreck of the USAT Liberty
Bump head parrot fish is common to see on the USAT Liberty wreck.

Tips for Tulamben Wreck Divers

Diving in Tulamben is very popular diving around the Liberty wreck and can get extremely busy.

  • Stay in Tulamben and dive early in the morning to avoid the crowds, the drive from the south of Bali is long and a day trip can become a very long day.
  • To do a night dive on one of the best wreck dives is an incredible experience. Sunrise and night dives are a great time to see the schools of bump head parrotfish.
  • The wreck starts shallow and is a nice site to snorkel.
  • There are many amazing sites in the area, combining the Liberty with some other dives.
  • If you have a knee or back problem (or do not enjoy struggling) inform the dive center beforehand to ensure you will have help carrying your equipment.
  • Combine diving here with exploring the area, and climbing Mount Agung, the highest point in Bali is a great day activity from Tulamben. 
swim-throughs on USAT Liberty shipwreck diving
Gaping swim-throughs diving on the USAT Liberty shipwreck.

The wreck is broken up leading to huge, gaping swim-throughs and some smaller holes in the wreckage, but the ship is in pieces so you can not really penetrate the wreck and no specialty is needed to dive here. There was one large piece of structure that was like a room with nice columns that you can swim into. We swam along and next to the wreck from bow to stern towards the shore. After a surface interval lying in the sun, we did a second dive on the stern section of the wreck. In the middle part of the wreck, there were some rails and ladders, the wreck is heavily encrusted with coral and there was a lot of fish around. The second dive was more shallow and we ended this dive by exploring in the shallows on the stern side for a safety stop. On the way back to shore, look on the sand for groups of garden eels poking out from the sandy seabed.

Best time to Dive Tulamben

The best time of year to dive in Tulamben is from April to July and also from October to November. Visibility is usually very good at this time, up to 40 meters! The monsoon can cause rough seas from December through April and late July to September.

safety stop in shallow water on a tulamben dive
Doing a safety stop in the shallow water on a Tulamben dive..

Marine Life to See Diving on the USAT Liberty Wreck

The Liberty wreck is home to an amazing variety of marine life, lots of fish like barracuda, big bump head parrot fish, groupers, sweetlips, pufferfish, angelfish, surgeonfish, Moorish idol and schools of big eye trevally are seen often diving here. Seeing a whole school of big bumphead parrotfish enter the wreck is a classic Liberty dive image and a big Napoleon wrasse or even Spanish mackerel are sometimes seen around the site. We saw some turtles, a reef shark, and moray eels on the wreck, if you have a divemaster with a good eye there are amazing tiny critters to spot all over the wreck, making for great macro photography! There are some beautiful nudibranchs on the wreck, I love finding these colorful sea slugs! Swimming back to the beach from the wreck over the sand keep an eye out for the field of garden eels. These small conger eels burrow into the sand, if you do not get too close many of them stick their heads out of the sand floating around like a patch of tiny cobras. If you do disturb them they retract into the sand at lightning speed! On the wreck and the black sand surrounding it, there are some unique little critters. Macro lovers would love to find critters like pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimp, frogfish, and mantis shrimps around here.

nudibranch Tulamben
Beautiful nudibranch on the black volcanic sand.

Dive Conditions in Tulamben

  • Water temperatures at Tulamben usually range between 27 and 29C, a 3mm wetsuit is recommended since dives here are usually quite long, 60 to 90 minutes. 
  • The water is usually calm with little current, but it is known to pick up from time to time.

Dive Sites Around Tulamben

The USAT Liberty shipwreck is located on the east coast of Bali and there are many other great dive sites close by. The area is known for some of the best shore diving in the world, great muck diving on the black volcanic sand, and some fantastic wall dives. The small fishermen’s villages of Amed and Tulamben both offer great diving either walking in from the shore or taking a short ride to the dive site in a jukung, a traditional wooden sailboat. The village of Amed is located about 30 minutes drive from Tulamben. Some of the best dives around the wreck of the USAT Liberty are mentioned below. 

The Drop-off, Tulamben

The Drop Off is a shore dive that can be accessed directly from Tulamben Beach. The site is also known as The Tulamben Wall and is a steep wall dropping into the deep from 3m underwater. The wall and steep ridges were created by Lava flow during the eruption of Mount Agung that pushed the Liberty into the water in 1963. Beautiful wall dive covered in hard and soft coral with massive Gorgonian sea fans.  Great variety of marine life, much different fish, and great excellent macro diving, pygmy seahorse are often seen here.

Coral Garden, Tulamben

Coral Garden is another nice shore dive in Tulamben, not far from the Liberty wreck. Easy dive with usually little current, the depth varies from 5m to 25m. Rich fish life, large Moray eels, great macro life with frogfish, ghost pipe fish, mantis shrimps, and more amazing little animals.

Seraya Secret

Excellent dive site. Seraya is one of the main dive sites for muck dives in Tulamben Bay.  It’s a paradise for macro-life, your dive shop can show you strange and rare creatures on the sandy bottom, such as the famous harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish, mimic octopus, ribbon eels, nudibranch, frogfish, dragonets, and a diverse array of colorful fish.

Batu Kelebit 

A deep dive in the Tulamben area, a great experience to dive on a white sandy slope coral reef. A quick ride by jukung (traditional boat). The right place to see pelagics, such as rays, tunas, barracudas, and white and black-tip reef sharks in this plankton-rich waters.

Surface interval Diving Tulamben
Chilling on the ‘beach’ during a surface interval diving The Liberty wreck from Tulamben. Check how close we are to the water.

Transport to Tulamben

You can get to Tulamben by renting a car, by public bus, or by taking a private shuttle. Many dive centers provide shuttle transport.

Renting a Car – Rental Car is a platform comparing the best car rental options in Bali.

Public Bus – Buses depart from Amlapura and Singaraja

Shuttle Bus – Perama shuttle bus drops off in central Tulamben, and picks up at Candi Dasa, Kuta, Padang Bai, Sanur, and Ubud. Book Shuttle Bus

Accommodation Tulamben

Best-rated and reviewed accommodation.

Book Diving around Tulamben

  • 2 Dive Package Tulamben Liberty, includes hotel transfer to different places in Bali.
  • Full-Day Tulamben Dive Trip – Dive three of the best dive site in the east of Bali, the Liberty Wreck, Coral Gardens, and Tulamben Drop Off
  • Want to swim with Manta Rays and explore Nusa Penida island?
  • Full Day Snorkeling Tulamben, Padang Bai, Amed or Nusa Penida  Choose snorkeling at one of Bali’s famous sites, snorkel on the wreck of the Liberty, or with the mantas of Nusa Penida! Includes Snorkel equipment rental, Hotel pick up or drop off (Central Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, and Sanur), Lunch, Drinks, Marine Park entry fees
  • Discover How to Scuba Dive – not certified? No problem, get picked up at your hotel, learn the basic skills, and get taken for a dive on the wreck by a dive instructor!

Dive Insurance

Getting injured while diving can be costly, Get a quick and easy online quote here to see the cost of travel insurance for divers. Want to know the cost of World Nomads dive insurance? Get an instant online quote here!

More Must-Do Things in Bali

Things to Pack for Diving the USAT Liberty Wreck

Disclosure: Stingy Nomads take part in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you buy something recommended in this post, we may get an affiliate commission — but it never affects your price or what we pick.

We never go on a dive trip without a dive computer, mask, and camera.

Check out the Mares Smart Dive computer, good value for money, and a great computer, I love mine.

The Mares Star liquid skin mask is one of the most comfortable masks I have ever had, we have both been using the liquid skin Star for a couple of years now; high-quality mask, great for scuba and freediving.

Going on a dive trip? – Dive Trip Packing List+Tips

Dive Indonesia Resources

For some of the best diving around Indonesia, probably in the world go to Komodo National Park easy to get to from Bali check out our Dive Komodo National Park – a Traveller’s Guide

The large island Sulawesi offers a variety of fantastic diving, diving Bira island is great diving in South Sulawesi. Lembeh Strait in the north is the place to go for muck diving and search the Togian Islands for an off-the-beaten-track diving adventure.

See our Guide to the Best Diving in Indonesia for a comparison of all the best dive sites around Indonesia.

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