Photo: Learning to dive in Tulamben.


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Under the shadow of Gunung Agung, amid a scorched landscape of rocky grassland, the tiny fishing village of Tulamben is an isolated speck on the north-east coast of Bali. The main attraction here is underwater — the sunken wreck of US cargo ship Liberty may have been a disaster at the time, but has produced one of Bali’s top dive spots, and one of the easiest wreck dives in the world.

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The village of Tulamben, a cluster of hotels and houses, stretches a short kilometre along the main road which snakes along Bali’s north coast, with a few resorts spread about six kilometres in either direction. The beach is nothing but a narrow strip of black pebbles — good for a foot massage, but not really conducive for sun worshiping. Tulamben’s name is a contraction of ‘batulambih’, which roughly translates to ‘many stones’. Visitors come for the diving and snorkelling and not much else. But they do come — the wreck is one of the busiest dive sites in Bali.

Pebbles and the sea. Photo taken in or around Tulamben, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Pebbles and the sea. Photo: Sally Arnold

In 1942 USAT Liberty (USAT stands for United States Army Transport) was en route from Australian to the Philippines with a cargo of railway parts and rubber when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near the Lombok Strait. She didn’t sink and an unsuccessful attempt was made to tow her to the harbour at Singaraja.

Liberty was beached at Tulamben for salvage operations where she lay for the next 21 years. In 1963 lava flows from the eruption of Gunung Agung, pushed the vessel down into the ocean and she has been there ever since for your diving pleasure. The shipwreck creates an ideal environment for many corals and sea creatures, attracting a large variety of fish too. The cave-like interior hull, invites exploration. Close to the shore, and in relatively shallow waters — it’s an easy swim from the pebbly beach for not only divers, but snorkelers too.

The main attraction. Photo taken in or around Tulamben, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

The main attraction. Photo: Sally Arnold

Besides the Liberty site, Tulamben offers a number of pretty coral gardens, all accessible to both divers and snorkelers from the shore, including another ‘wreck’ — the Boga in nearby Kubu, which was purposely sunk here in 2012. Tulamben is also becoming recognised as a good place to learn ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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