Bali is one of the most exotic tourism destinations in the world. The unique culture that is found in this part of Indonesia, the outstanding beaches and the nightlife make this an attractive destination. Australian tourists have been the primary tourist group as it is just a short flight away from Western Australia.
Bali is also known as an outstanding dive destination, and a number of liveaboards depart from Bali to dive more remote destinations including the Komodo Marine Reserve. Bali is not a very large island you can drive anywhere in a matter of a few hours. Still, you will find three distinct dive destinations each with their own draws. Shore diving is popular in all the destinations. If your interest tends towards muck diving and photography as well as wrecks then the shore dives on the north-east coast may be the best place for you. There are many dive sites along this coast that are outstanding shore dives with diving near Amed, Tumamben and Lipah Bay.
No discussion about diving in Bali would be complete without the inclusion of the USAT Liberty. The USAT Liberty may be the most diverse dive site in Asia. Built over a hundred years ago, named the USS Liberty, the ship delivered horses and other cargo to cavalry troops in WWI. After the Great War was over, she served as a general cargo ship. The opening of hostilities in World War II saw her back in war service, this time as an army transport ship. On January 11, 1942, while passing through the strait between Bali and Lombok, she was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. The damage was extensive and an attempt was made to return her to a port. When it became clear that she would sink before reaching a port, the USAT Liberty was beached at Tumamben a small fishing village. The military salvaged the cargo and any military items they could, leaving the rest of the ship on the shore. For 20 years, the wreck sat on the beach slowly being stripped by the locals. It has been joked that nearby Mount Agung got feed-up with the eyesore sitting on the beautiful beach and in 1963 it erupted. Earthquakes associated with the eruption pushed the wreck off the beach and into the sea. Out of sight of the mountain.
Today the USTA Liberty is one of the top dive sites in Bali. It is also considered one of the best wreck sites and one of the best shore dives in the world. Previous eruptions of Mount Agung has left the area with a black sand beach. The black sand, that extends into the water, is the home of many species of critters just waiting to be found by muck divers and macro photographers. Nearby Lombok is one of the top muck diving destinations in the world and the conditions here are very similar.
Located just 100 feet (ca. 30 meters) offshore the 411 feet (ca. 125 meters) long USAT Liberty is just 25 feet (ca. 8 meters) below the surface with depths reaching 110 feet (ca. 34 meters). Time, nature and the violent eviction from the beach has left the USAT Liberty broken but still an outstanding wreck. This is a dive site that you can dive a number of times and always find something new.
Also, along the coast, not far away from the USAT Liberty, is the village of Banyuning in Lipah bay. Here is a small wreck of unknown origin but called the Japanese wreck. The wreck is about 20 meters long and may have been a patrol boat or even a tug. The ship has been fully covered by gorgonian fans, sponges and soft corals. Black coral is also found on the wreck. This is a popular site for both divers and snorkelers. The wreck itself sits in 12 meters of water, with portions of the wreck reaching 6 meters. While the wreck itself sits on silty sand, most of the slope to the wreck is black sand the mecca for muck diving. The wreck sits near a very healthy reef. The reef slopes down to about 40 meters. However, divers crossing the reef need to understand that the reef will take you beyond the protection of Lipah bay and expose you to strong currents. The Indonesian Throughflow passes just outside of Lipah Bay and along the coast in this area. The Indonesian Throughflow is one of the strongest of surface ocean currents in the world. It is very rich in nutrients and some nutrients find their way into the bay feeding the marine life.
Sitting near the base of Mount Seraya, Muntig Bay is the home of some of the best reefs and muck diving in Indonesia. There are a number of dive sites in three areas of the bay. Noisy Reef is a small reef just 20 meters offshore and in 12 meters of water. Situated on a black sand slope the reef is well-developed and has a large population of juvenile reef fish. Both the reef and surrounding sand are perfect for macro photography.
Seraya Secrets is the best known of the dive sites in the bay. Many divers give this site credit for being the best muck dive in Bali. While Seraya Secrets does have some scatter reefs with reef fish and a number of cleaning stations, divers who are not macro or muck divers will find this site on the boring side. However, The black sand is the perfect place for small critters to hide and challenge the muck divers to find them. Your search can start just off the beach. Many first time visitors get so wrapped up at what they find early in their dive, they might not venture deeper than one or two meters. However, the conditions continue down the slope to deeper waters. Around 10 meters divers will find a few clumps of corals that have established cleaning stations. Many photographers find these a nice balance to the macro shots.
The third area of the bay is called Deep Secrets. Deep Secrets is a corral outcrop sitting on a ridge in 35 meters of water. There is a cleaning station here that draws pelagic up from the deeper waters. This is a great place to photograph these large marine animals.
Shore dives can give us flexibility in scheduling our dives. Perfect for a location like Bali.