Snorkeling in Tulamben Bali – USAT Liberty Shipwreck and Coral Garden

Tulamben is a small fishing village that lies on the less-visited north-east coastline of Bali, right next to the majestic Agung Volcano. Thanks to the laid-back vibe, it is definitely a place to be for travelers who prefer quiet, nature-close holidays and want to disconnect for a few days. This area is well-known of its black sand beaches, stunning underwater life in the Coral Garden, and at the famous USAT Liberty shipwreck! Read this post where we share with you all the information you need to know when planning to go snorkeling in Tulamben!

Best Tulamben snorkeling spots

USAT Libert Shipwreck

USAT Liberty (also known as USS Liberty) was a US Army cargo ship. It was towed to Tulamben beach after got torpedoed by Japanese Submarine in 1942. Mt Agung eruption in 1963 moved the wreck into the sea where it rests now.

Thanks to the ship’s excellent condition and rich marine life around, the Tulamben shipwreck became quickly a worldwide-known place to dive and one of Bali’s best snorkeling spots.

Wreck in Tulamben
The USAT Liberty Shipwreck – Amazing corals and lots of fish to see here!

The 130 m long ship rests about 100ft/30 meters deep. But since its highest point is just 10ft/3 meters below the surface, it is also a superb spot to go snorkeling in Tulamben.

Where is the USS/USAT Liberty Shipwreck?

Tulamben is a less-developed, not so-crowded village, it is easy to find the shipwreck. Follow the main road, then turn right at the Wreck Divers Hotel or Liberty Dive Resort. Keep going until you arrive at the stony beach. You can leave your belongings anywhere where you find free space on the beach.

Beach in Tulamben
This is the beach where you find the shipwreck

The Tulamben shipwreck is not marked with a buoy, or it wasn’t when we were there. But don’t worry, there are always people around you who can ask about the exact entry point or else, just follow the others! The ship can be found approx. 25 meters from the shore.

Enter the water slowly because in the first few meters there are big stones and it is easy to fall while you trying to go through the waves. The best is to arrive early in the morning when the sea is calmer meaning easier entry and also better visibility!

Coral and fish species at USAT Liberty

After the Mount Agung 1963 eruption, USS Liberty slipped off the beach. Marine life quickly started to settle on it turning the Tulamben shipwreck into a blooming coral garden with attractive sea life around.

While a Tulamben snorkeling trip, you can expect to observe the following species:

  • Sponge, Barrel sponge
  • Hard coral species: brain, table, finger coral
  • Wire and feather star coral
  • Sea fans in vibrant colors
  • Various octopus species
  • Batfish, damselfish, wrasse, bumphead parrotfish
  • Stingray, garden eel
Stingray on the sea bottom in Bali
Stingray at the sandy bottom near the shipwreck

Tip: The wreck is a celebrated place among underwater photographers thanks to the diverse marine life, so make sure to bring your snorkeling camera. Investigate these snorkeling photography tips so you will know how to capture the best images!

Coral Garden

Although Tulamben shipwreck is the biggest attraction in this tiny village, but we highly recommend visiting the Tulamben Coral Garden too. This pretty, shallow reef locates just a few hundred meters from the wreck, so a 2-stops Tulamben snorkeling trip can be easily done in one day.

The coral reef runs very close to the shore with an average depth of 2-15 meters (7-50 ft). This is an enjoyable, easy spot to go snorkeling in Tulamben and good for novice snorkelers too.

Corals in Tulamben
Tulamben Coral Garden

The marine life is very vibrant with many different hard and soft coral species, playful tropical fish and often blue-yellow ribbon moray eels around. If the visibility is good, you can see some underwater statues too!

Best time to go snorkeling in Tulamben

Bali has a tropical climate that features hot and humid weather all year long. It is very rainy from December to March. High seas and low-pressure systems might affect the area during the months of July and August too bringing rain and choppy water. Therefore, the best time to dive and snorkel in Tulamben is from April to July and from September to November.

During this period you have a good chance to experience calm waters and great visibility that can reach even 40 meters (120ft). For snorkelers good visibility is even more important than for divers, therefore we recommend always going snorkeling early in the morning. This is when you have the best chance for calm and clear water.

Corals on the USAT Liberty shipwreck
The water clarity is the best in the morning, this is when you u can see the top of the wreck clearly even when snorkeling only.

The sea is usually free of strong currents so snorkeling is safe around the coast. But we recommend checking the weather forecast regularly! Don’t head out to the sea if there is a chance for a tropical storm.

Tip: Read more tips on staying safe while snorkeling!

How to get to Tulamben Bali

This small town lies about 100 km from Denpasar and South Bali tourist areas and is reachable within 3 hours with a private transfer. Shuttle service (for example Perame Shuttle) is also available from the biggest South Bali cities. Should you arrive from Lombok or from The Gilis, speedboats operate to Amed from where Tulamben is available with a short taxi ride.

The name of the village originates from the word batulambih which means many stones and refers to the coastline’s characteristic that was formed by Mount Agung Volcano’s eruptions and covered with smooth, black stones. Therefore, be careful when entering the water not to fall on the stones! If you go just swimming not snorkeling, make sure to wear aqua shoes to protect your feet!

Tulamben rocky beach
Most beaches are rocky in Tulamben

Most tourists who visit the Northeast side of Bali choose Amed as their base and come to do snorkeling in Tulamben as a day trip only. This is absolutely manageable since getting to Tulamben from Amed is just a 15 mins drive.

The main reason behind this is that Tulamben has a wide variety of accommodations too, Amed has more to offer if it comes to shopping and eating options. Amed became a little center of the northeast coast while maintaining the traditional Balinese atmosphere. A place far away from crowded resort areas but close to Bali’s best attractions like Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple or Tirta Gangga Water Palace.

And last but not least, snorkeling in Amed is first class thanks to its shallow, vibrant coral gardens that surround the coastline so we highly recommend visiting this region in Bali! Once you come, you never want to leave this hidden paradise!

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Tulamben snorkeling places

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!