When divers think of Amed, they think of wrecks including of course the world famous Liberty wreck. Regardless of whether you’re a freediver or a scuba diver, there’s a variety of wrecks to suit your experience and skill level situated relatively close to the town of Amed. When you combine the quality of wreck diving on offer with the mild dry season climate and amazing visibility at this time of year, it’s easy to see why Amed is starting to attract more and more international visitors. So, with this in mind we’ve put together a wreck diving guide to help you plan your wreck diving adventure in Amed!
LIBERTY WRECK – Tulamben (20 minutes from Amed)
Undoubtedly, the USAT (United States Army Transport) Liberty is the most famous of Amed’s four wrecks and is world famous in wreck diving circles. The story of the Liberty goes that in January 1942 the Liberty was en route from Australia to the Philippines with cargo when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near Bali. Taking on water and unable to get all the way to Singaraja, the ship was beached in Tulamben so that the cargo could be salvaged.
The ship then sat on the beach at Tulamben for a couple of decades before nearby volcano Mount Agung erupted in 1963 and the resulting tremors slid the Liberty down into the water where it currently resides on the sand 100 metres or so from shore.
With the top of the ship being around four metres deep (tide depending) and the bottom in over 30 metres, a large part of the Liberty’s attraction is that it is open to everyone from beginners through to advanced divers. While it can get crowded during high season, particularly with scuba divers, the hull is 125 metres long so there is plenty of ship to explore.
After the beaching in WW2 the ship was stripped of anything of any value over the next few years and so while the hull and interior are quite bare of actual ship parts, this makes it very easy and safe to dive without worrying too much about banging your head on a doorway or stairwell.
Oh, and of course no talk of wreck diving is complete without a swimthrough or two and the Liberty has plenty at various depths, meaning the Liberty is probably your safest bet if you’re looking for 100 likes on Insta. It’s also a load of fun without the Gopro, and the biggest swimthrough in the cargo hold starts at about 10 metres with a massive opening making it perfect for level 1 and 2 freedivers. If you’ve got enough breath hold, stop and have a quick look around on your way through because there’s always a big snapper or two hanging out in there!
While any huge man-made piece of steel reef will be an attractant for fish life, it is no doubt thanks to the protected zone surrounding the Liberty that the fish life here rivals anywhere in Bali. You can find all the usual colourful reef species to this area however, it’s the sheer numbers of large demersal fish that makes the Liberty truly special, with plenty of diver-friendly snapper, groupers and parrot fish.
Early mornings are great for sighting the resident humphead parrot fish that habitually come in to school around the wreck, while those who aren’t afraid to stick their head in small holes and under ledges can often be rewarded with sightings of the large and sometimes timid groupers.
JAPANESE WRECK – Banyuning (15 minutes from Amed)
The Japanese wreck is the second most popular wreck in the area and at around 20m long is very small in comparison to the Liberty but, as the Japanese wreck afficionados will tell you, what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty.
Nobody actually knows the reason the wreck is known as the Japanese wreck but the rumour that has the most credibility are that the term Java-nese was mistaken for Japa-nese.
The mystery doesn’t end with the history of the name either, as the actual purpose of the vessel is also cloudy. The wreck is lying on its side with much of the hull, deck and, well pretty much everything else, missing. It could be a fishing boat, a tug or even a small cargo ship but we’ll probably never know for sure.
Whatever the case the wreck has been there for a long time and wasn’t a mainstay of Amed diving until the road out to Lipah from Amed was upgraded from a goat track to a scooter track and eventually a half decent road by East Bali standards. Nowadays, there’s a carpark, a café and snorkel hire right on the beach next to the wreck. There’s also a few small hotels close by and some people like to stay at this end of East Bali because it’s the quietest part.
Just like the Liberty, a few decades of submerged existence has been very kind to the Japanese wreck’s aesthetics and the hull is covered in some of the most beautiful corals and sponges in the area making it a wreck diving favourite for the area. There’s also plenty of fish, shrimp, rays and other marine life to keep you entertained for a couple of hours.
From the beach, you simply swim out the 50 metres or so to the wreck which begins in a few metres of water making it suitable for all levels including snorkelers.
BOGA wreck – Kubu (30 mins from Amed)
On the back of the success of the Liberty and Japanese wrecks in bringing tourism opportunities to the Amed area, in 2012 the Boga was sunk off Kubu beach to further cement Bali’s status in the wreck diving world. The Boga was a 40 metre long, 150-tonne Dutch cargo ship before being purchased by the owner of the Bali Relax Hotel and donated to the Karangasem Badung (regency).
In contrast to the Liberty and Japanese wrecks, the hull of the Boga is well and truly intact and provides a great contrast to the other wrecks with its, ‘not being completely decimated by time, torpedoes or seismic activity’ qualities.
The main issue with the Boga and the reason why it’s nowhere near as popular as its neighbouring wrecks is the depth. The Boga was originally placed in the ‘scuba-friendly’ 30-metre-deep range. That meant that the top of the ship was around 13-15 metres deep and the bottom sat around 30-32. However, the Boga apparently didn’t want to sit in that spot and eventually the hull slid and wiggled its way down to sit at 40m, a good challenge for the freedivers.
The top now sits around 18 metres and when you add in the high current usually experienced in the area this makes it strictly an experienced wreck diving location for both freedivers and scuba divers.
Highlights of the ship include a Volkswagon convertible (yep really), a propeller and a steering wheel which are all very instagrammable for those who can get down to them. There’s also a swimthrough around 28m but often the scuba divers won’t go inside the ship because the current is too strong so freediving must be done with even further care.
There isn’t anywhere near the level of marine life as the nearby Liberty but the Boga can boast that the hull is entirely in tact. So while it doesn’t beat the Liberty at supporting a living reef, it does beat the Liberty at being an actual boat and this has some upsides too!
Amed’s fourth and newest wreck
Now I’m sure there’s a few people reading this that are thinking to themselves, “that’s it, there’s only three wrecks in Amed. What are they talking about, four wrecks?”
Well ladies and gentlemen, Amed now officially has its fourth wreck! Yes that’s right, and this one is right in the heart of Amed! Click here to read more.
Written by Jereme Lane