In the last instalment of this short series, I’ll be covering the third (and often greatest) area of interest in Tulamben; the wreck of the USAT Liberty. The wreck itself has a fascinating history, being shot up by the Japanese in WW2 and beached by her crew, stripped by locals over the years and finally being rolled into the water when the volcano erupted in the 60’s. Now she rests underwater, a beckoning fun dive for all skill levels with it’s many occupants and open areas.
The wreck is surprisingly open, and areas are easily entered and exited by divers without extensive training. That said, this is a feature not common to wrecks in general. The USAT Liberty has several wide open areas that are not enclosed or overhead obstacle areas. Other parts are more like a bit of a swim through. Situational awareness is still important though, as sea fans and Stinging Hydrozoans are common and can quickly turn a fun dive into an irritating first aid experience. The wreck is just, just suitable to do wreck training in, as it lacks truly enclosed spaces. As with any other wreck, be careful of the metal and structure, and leave it in shape for the next group of divers!
The USAT Liberty is a home to a plethora of marine life. Great Barracuda, anemones, Maroon Clownfish, large blue Bumphead Parrotfish, various wrasse, Blacktip Reef Sharks, giant clams, and a variety of butterflyfish and groupers. The opportunities for photography and video are unbelievable. Given that the top of the wreck is in shallow enough water to allow for snorkelers to look it over, the USAT Liberty is truly a great wreck dive!
The actual dive to the wreck is a simple one, suitable for any level of experience. It’s a shore entrance with a small stones followed by a short swim/dive over a gently sloping sandy bottom. At a maximum of 30m, with no current of note and warm water, it’s an easy go. Along the way you’ll see isolated coral growths, the odd anemone and it’s residents, random fish and if you’re lucky maybe a small school of fish. Once you’re at the wreck, a normal pattern is to go one side, the come back along the other. The dive is typically 35-45 minutes, depending on your air consumption. Even during the rainy season, visibility is good, and the water temperature is seldom below 25˚C.
Diving in Tulamben is, was and will be again, some of my best experiences underwater. Whether it’s been training or fun, Tulamben has provided great experiences and opportunities as a diver. If you’re in Bali, get ahold of Bali Scuba and get up there for some of the best warm water action you’ll ever have. While you’re there, try the Paradise kitchen’s grilled pork with a Bintang beer. It’s the perfect end to a day of perfect diving!