Bali Ocean Wonder: USS Liberty Shipwreck at Tulamben

People going to Bali not only to enjoy the famed sunset at the southwestern coast of the island. Some of them want to go deeper into the sea. While the southwestern beaches are closely related to sunset and surfing, the eastern coastal areas of the island promise different wonder. Amed, Candidasa, and Tulamben are the places that tease tourists with their snorkeling- and diving-friendly environments. The most well-known of these three places is of course Tulamben. The USS Liberty shipwreck off shore draws many visitors throughout the year. About 100 divers of all levels visit the wreck point during the peak season.

The diving industry has been evolving since the place is popular in 2000. Accommodation places have also been built around the area. However, the general atmosphere here is still tranquil, quiet and slow. Relaxation and ocean activities are combined in good harmony to provide visitors with refreshing moment. Tulamben itself is a culture-laden fishing in the eastern coast of the island, just like the other villages in the Island of the Gods. While a few years ago fishing is the major occupation of the inhabitants, they also hold diving industry now, contributing to the increase in their level of welfare.

Tulamben obtained its name from the word Batulambin, or many stone. With time, the name evolved into Batulamben and finally reached its current name. The village is a constant victim of the eruption of Mount Agung. As such, the shore in the village is not made of sand but of large, smooth stone. Mount Agung indeed plays an important role for the local. Its eruption in 1963 pushed the shipwreck into the current location, thus attracting more and more fish, including large fish, to make a home in it. Coral also makes the wreck point as their natural home.

The USS Liberty was a supply ship sailing in the Bali Strait when a Japanese submarine spotted the vessel. It was soon torpedoed. While trying to run away, the ship finally sunk in the eastern shore of the Bali Island. In 1963, the Mount Agung erupted, sending tons of stones and volcanic sand to the area around the shipwreck. Now the shipwreck lies 30 meters under the water but the top part of the wreck can be seen 5 meter below the surface. Divers can reach the wreck rather easy as it is only 25 meters away from the shore.

Recommended time to dive the shipwreck is during October and November. The weather is rather calm and visibility at the clearest during these months. The current is mild enough so that it is safe for beginners but there are several spots where only experienced divers can reach them. In addition to the beautiful coral colony, divers can expect to meet large fish at some season. Mola mola, black-tip reef sharks and whale sharks have been reported visiting the wreck. The local also participate in the conservation of the diving site. Awareness is good and fishing activities are minimal around the shipwreck.

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