The rudder, huge! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The rudder, huge! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Liberty, the most famous wreck in Bali

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


I talked about it in the previous article. The wreck of the LibertyTulamben (about 15 kilometers west of Amed) is the most popular dive site in Bali, Indonesia.

I had already dived into the Liberty in 2002. And this is the very first dive I decide to do, the day after my arrival in Amed...

The history of the Liberty : To learn more about this U.S. Army freighter and understand how it ended up stranded like this, on the northeast coast of Bali, just off the beach, I invite you to read this other article below:

Delicate launching

I had the memory of an easy and spectacular dive, in clear water. If the show was still great, this Tuesday's dive was rather sporty, with a rather strong current and a more limited visibility... The fault, it seems, of a few days of rain and wind, last week, which shook the bottom.

Just getting into the water is difficult on this windy day. Big waves are crashing on the black pebble beach.

The dive is from the edge, from the black pebble beach of Tulamben. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Diving on the wreck is done from the shore, from the black pebble beach of Tulamben (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Despite the precautions and warnings of our guides and the help of theEco-DiveSeveral of us lost our balance on the pebbles and fell into the rollers with all our diving gear on our backs...

No injuries for me, fortunately. An Australian girl was less lucky: she smashed her knee while getting out of the water. The trick is to jump in at the right time, right between two waves. The Aussie did well, though, she may hobble for a few days, but nothing is broken.

The wreck of the Libertya steel monster full of life

Here is to start with a small video of the wreck. Sorry for the poor quality, I recall that it was made in 2008, with my modest compact camera of the time, far from what we can do today with cameras that film in HD or 4K ...

 Underwater, we can only see the huge mass of the cargo until the very last moment, when we are almost on top of it, as the visibility is so bad. I plan to dive again on the wreck in a few days, hoping that it will have improved a bit.

But even without being able to fully embrace this steel behemoth, I am captivated.

The rudder, huge! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
The rudder, huge! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Large openings allow easy entry into and out of the wreckage. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Large openings allow for easy entry and exit (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

The wreck is, as I remember, covered with corals, gorgonians, swarming with life. Stingrays in abundance, of all sizes, all colors...

But it is not easy for me to take pictures. This Tuesday, there is a current that could have been a nudibranch. We had to enter the wreck, to take shelter of the hull, to breathe a little.

Nothing scary about it. The openings are wide, easy. All the "swim-through" where we went let the light constantly filter.

A nice cleaner shrimp takes the pose ... If I give him my fingers, she starts to do my nails! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
A nice cleaning shrimp is posing... If I hold out my fingers to her, she starts doing my nails! (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
This big scorpion fish with a sinister look is not at all impressed by my camera. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
This big scorpionfish with a face that looks like it is not impressed at all by my camera (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Only photographer of the palanquée ...

But my palanquée palm a little too fast for me, the only photographer of the band. I am hardly posed in front of a pretty yellow leaf-fish, in a corner not too exposed to the current, that already the others spin towards the end of the hull ...

Oh, boy. I need a few minutes in front of my little fish to try to draw its portrait with its mouth open.

This little yellow leaf fish, snuggled in the coral, half open its mouth in front of my lens. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
This little yellow leaf fish, snuggled in the coral, half open its mouth in front of my lens. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Mission accomplished! I join them quickly, in two strokes of my fins, carried by the current. The others clung under a broken part of the hull, to contemplate the aquatic ballet of a school of big jacks. Yes, the current means more life and more fish...

Except that, once again, I barely have time to settle down in a corner, to admire the show, to raise my lens towards the bench which is cut out against the light towards the surface (how beautiful!) that already the others are moving away to go back to the interior of the hull... Fortunately, the dive-master who is driving the broom is waiting for me.

In the current, trevallies are having a great time ... (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
In the current, the jacks have a great time... (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

But here is the problem: by swimming too much in the current, some of them have already used up their air... Two of them have to go back up, a Frenchman and an Australian, accompanied by the dive-master who closes the group.

Muck diving on the black sand

I finished the dive with the "thrifty consumers" of which I am one, another Australian, impressive with all her "tek" diving gear, and our dive-master Kadek. We sneak into the holes of the hull and have the good surprise to meet two very strong napoleons at the exit. With the pleasure to finish the walk at a small depth, on the sand, in "muck-diving".

In front of big holes in the sand, Kadek hits two stones one against the other. He emerges soon the elongated and bulging eyes of a big "manta-shrimp" or squish. Hop, I'm totally flashing!

Curious, the squire comes out of his hole. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Curious, the squire comes out of his hole. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

When I got out of the water, I made a firm resolution to come back. This wreck is too big! There are too many things to see, we don't know where to put our head!

Mister seahorse-pygmy

And among the beautiful rewards, at the beginning of the dive, Kadek found us, in the branches of a gorgonian fixed to the hull... guess what? A Pygmy seahorse,!

Adorable, this hyppocampus-pygmy attached to its gorgon. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
Adorable, this hyppocampus-pygmy attached to its gorgon. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

Yes, one more! Yippee! Come on, I can't resist the pleasure of putting up his little picture for you. He's so cute, that one.

But when we come back, the beach is already invaded by divers in black overalls, diving tanks and women carrying their gear, sometimes two complete equipments balanced on their heads...

On the Tulamben beach, the carriers are able to carry two bottles on their heads. No need to try to wear in their place, they will not let you do ... This hard work is their livelihood. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)
On the beach of Tulamben, the porters are able to carry two bottles on their heads. Don't bother trying to carry them, they won't let you... This hard work is their livelihood. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008)

All these people, who disembark at Tulamben on the stroke of 11 am, arrive from further away (Kuta, Sanur, Padangbai, Ubud) for an express dive on the famous wreck.

Hey, hey! We, who are on the spot, had it all to ourselves or almost!

Good plan for accommodation and diving in Tulamben: I went back to Bali several times since this trip in 2008 (in 2011, in 2012, in 2015) and I dived again on the fabulous wreck of the LibertyBut now with a guide for me alone and at the right times (those when there are less people)... I point out this real good plan of resort for divers, which is also an excellent address, especially if you are an underwater photographer, and you want to discover the wreck in the best possible conditions →  Liberty Dive Resort

→ See also: all my articles on the wreck of the Liberty

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

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  1. Emerveillée de tout le bonheur que te procure tes plongées; par la pensée je suis avec toi, mais incapable d’en faire autant. grand-mère 🙂 ❗ 🙄

  2. Eh eh!

    Je me doutais bien que vous profiteriez de l’ordi de Lydie pour parcourir mon petit blog en famille… Oui, ces plongees sont un pur bonheur. Je me plais beaucoup a Amed.

    See you soon!
    😉

  3. Hello,

    Depuis que j’ai découvert vos sites web sur l’Asie et la plongée, je ne m’en lasse pas.
    And with a trip to Bali planned in less than two weeks, I read and read again with pleasure your last comments on this destination.

    J’ai une petite question technique concernant les photos d’hippocampes pigmées. Quel matériel utilisez-vous, avec quels réglages? Avec mon Olympus SP550 soit l’hippocampe est minuscule au centre de la photo, soit il est flou (en mode macro).

  4. Hi Myriam,

    I wish you a good trip to Bali in advance ...

    Pour les hippocampes pygmees, je n’utilise aucun materiel supplementaire (voir dans la section Materiel, en haut de page). J’ai un simple appareil photo numerique, le A95 Powershot de Canon, avec son caisson.

    Pour les reglages: mode manuel (M) et je mets une ouverture F8 ou F7.1, jusqu’a F6.3, en general, pour avoir un profondeur de champ aussi importante que possible, histoire que la bestiole ait de bonnes chances d’etre nette, puis j’ajuste le temps de pose en consequence, je mets le flash (doser la puissance selon la distance avec la bestiole), et puis je shoote en priant pour que mon autofocus face bien la mise au point sur l’hippocampe, je shoote, je shoote… Dans le tas, il y a de bons cliches! Je choisis aussi un format tres haute definition, afin de pouvoir zoomer la photo et recadrer sur le minuscule hippocampe, sans perdre en qualite.

    Le mieux, pour se faire la main, c’est de s’entrainer a utiliser le mode macro sur terre, puis sous l’eau, sur des sujets immobiles.

    😉

  5. Ahhh… je retrouve le plaisir que j’ai ressenti en plongeant plusieurs fois sur cette épave très riche en faune. Merci pour cette description Corinne !

    PS : elles s’améliorent les photos, non ?… 😉

  6. Je publierai très bientôt le récit d’une autre plongée, moins “speed”, sur l’épave, dans des conditions plus agréables: meilleure visi et moins de courant. La richesse de la faune est effectivement spectaculaire.

    Merci de ce gentil PS concernant les photos. Venant de ta part, c’est un précieux compliment… Ça me fait bien plaisir, d’autant que mon appareil m’a joué de mauvais tours sous l’eau (du genre: le bouton du flash et/ou du mode macro qui se bloquent).
    😯

  7. Ouah l’hippocampe pygmée lors de la plongée Liberty (cette espèce là, je ne la verrait pas à La Dominique, dommage), et le poisson feuille jaune (A Mayotte j’en avais vu un blanc). C’est galère quand les photographes cotoient des sprinteurs, vive les palanquées homogènes surtout en consommation d’air….
    A mes débuts évidemment je pompais trop vite mes 200 bars mais maintenant ça m’agasse si on doit écourter le moment de bonheur à cause des autres !
    Good luck to Rennes

  8. @LiseMet: Ah, là, là, qu’elle est belle, cette épave… (soupir). En général, j’essaye d’être indulgente, avec les “sprinteurs” et les “débutants”, mais j’ai de plus en plus de mal, j’avoue… Trop de frustrations!
    😉

  9. Hello,

    We intend to return to Bali which has delighted us on our first trip (we felt exactly the same in the CDG Rennes), and since we have our level 1, we think to dive on the liberty ...

    But is there really a crowd? Do you have to dive early in the morning?

    thank you so much

    Alexander

    1. @Alex: oui, quand je dis qu’il y a foule, il y a vraiment foule. C’est en effet préférable de plonger sur le Liberty de bonne heure, avant l’arrivée du gros des troupes. Elle est vraiment très chouette, cette épave, accessible à tous niveaux. Et elle est restée superbe, au fil des années, malgré l’affluence. Je repasse par Bali dans quelques jours et je compte d’ailleurs y retourner plonger moi aussi… 😉

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