After enjoying our first Scuba Dive in The Great Barrier Reef so much, and had heard such great things about diving in Bali, we were more than ready to see what all the rave was about down at Tulamben’s USAT Liberty Shipwreck. I’m so glad we opted for Joe’s Gone Diving – a member of worldwide PADI group for divers! They really seemed to take the time, made sure we were taken care of, only one instructor per two people so it was more private then big groups going into the water together. We also took it at our own pace and didn’t stick to a strict itinerary of lunch at 12 or anything like that, we lunched after we dived, we dived again after we lunch, simple! And I’m sooooo glad we did, taking our time definitely paid off when we saw the resident barracuda in the late afternoons when the crowd had died down, but I suppose I have the BlackTip reef shark to thank for that, if we hadn’t seen him swimming passed we may have missed the barracuda! Talk about impressive marine life!
It wasn’t just the big marines that impressed us too, there were garden eels, groupers, pufferfish, schools of electric blue and even a friendly silver fishy who thought RJ’s hair may have been food and gave him a little nip. Just FYI, laughing underwater with an air tank equals bubble mania! Was too funny!
First of all, “Joe” is always gone diving, i.e. he doesn’t really exist, but it’s a cool name, I thought. But let’s just say “Joe’s” picked us up from our hotel at 7:30AM before heading over to their head office to get suited up and sized up! We had refreshments offered straight away (which I accidentally spilled everywhere in the equipment room….if your snorkel tastes like coffee, I’m sorry…it was good coffee though if it helps) Our instructor, Eby, carried all of our gear for us into individual bags, so no confusion on whose is who’s. Organized!
We then set off on the two hour drive from Joe’s to Tulamben on the north-east coast of Bali, not gonna lie, pack your motion sickness…those roads man, my tummy just can’t hack it. Our instructors had packed cold drinks and snacks for the drive over, we also got to choose what we may want for the included lunch from the menu’s provided – that way when you come out from the first dive, it’s all ready to go!
Eby also explains some of the main hand signals we would be using and different techniques for breathing in the car, I thought it was really handy to chat it over on the 2-hour drive, make use of some technique time on the way rather than using up crucial diving time, yup, love it! We did a little True or False quiz too, also handy, so that they know you are getting it! We finally arrive in Tulamben and head on down to the shore-entry area. Eby chats to us about the history of Liberty Wreck. It was one of the USAT ships that was primarily used as a Cargo Ship and was enroute from Australia when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and had time to beach itself on the shore of Tulamben, but THEN, when Volcano, Mt Agung, erupted in 1963 the explosion caused the ship to slip back into the sea where it lies some 20metres from the shore – perfect for that beginners shore-entry dive! The coral and sea life have embraced the wreck well and is filled with beautiful colours, life and leads no surprises as to why this is such a popular dive spot!
So Eby goes over the hand signals again and gets us fitted in our dive get-up – except for flippers, cause, well, walking into the black sandy shore with heavy scuba tank, weight belt and duck feet is not such a great combo – hilarious to watch (for some that I saw trying to) but not the brightest idea as a beginner. So we wade in as a trio, get ourselves to floating level and then wack our flippers on. We then go out to where we can kneel down and practice some common issues to feel comfortable i.e. water getting into your mask and how to get rid of it (great tip for snorkelling too – just tilt your head back, press down on the mask at your forehead and blow out through your nose – yay, no water, also great tip for if they are fogging and you want to put water IN to clean and then get it out again, handy dandy!) also if the regulator falls from your mouth and how to clear it to put it back in – without panicking! So we practice breathing underwater, clearing our masks, and different hand signals to make sure we are super comfortable and all good to go. Both RJ n I pick up in no time and we are all good to go, so we head off down the slope towards the stern, covered in beautiful corals and barnacles with hundreds of unafraid fish who love to scope you out, I felt like ariel just swimming around in circles with them dancing around me, and I could breathe, underwater, soooo that’s mermaid material right there.
The first dive I kind’ve keep making sure I’m unblocking my ears a.k.a “equalizing”, sticking close to Eby, looking back to see if RJ is seeing all the cool things I’m seeing cause I don’t want him to miss anything and vice versa! We get about halfway around the wreck before the air is coming to it’s near end so we head back for lunch, clocking out at 47mins for our first dive. But don’t worry, after the rainstorm lunch with refreshing fruit juice (which tastes amazing after you’ve spent the last hour with salt lips) we get a second go! And we are much more comfortable and confident this time! We go down about 12 metres, we aren’t sticking as close together and just scuba-ing around and exploring, we play with curious stingrays, follow big grouper fish, watch the clams clench tight as we get close, get up close with a beautiful white and yellow pufferfish and face off with a barracuda – who wouldn’t take his eyes off us, I get it dude, always gotta watch your back, I don’t want no beef either!
The second dive we made it around the whole wreck and clocked out at 59mins – almost a full hour! Which is great for beginner divers, a good use of air so there ya go, I’m a pretty good breather, one of my many talents, woop woop! I love, love, LOVE that Joe’s Gone Diving offers a two-dive experience at no extra cost for the same dive, it’s so surprising just how much MORE confident you feel the second time, it just makes the whole experience, if I had it my way, I would suggest every dive company include that, it’s virtually two different experiences. So it’s just fantastic that Joe’s includes that, it’s like they know what they’re doing or something?? Haha kidding, of COURSE they do! And they’re amazing at it.
I’m gonna sound super Un-Australian right now, but, I kinda rate this dive over The Reef…BUT, I truly feel that’s purely because of the confidence level to explore, The Great Barrier Reef was my first time diving and I pretty much stuck to the instructors hand the whole time, I’m absolutely itching to go back and give it another go with new found confidence and comfort under the sea. In fact…RJ n I now really want to go and do our dive course so we can go deeper and enjoy dives all over this amazingly beautiful earth.
I mean, here you have two beginners, diving in a foreign country, coming out of a double-dive itching to do a professional dive course – if that’s not an amazing Diving company I don’t know what is. You want to have an amazing dive, see amazing coral life and marine life AND feel totally comfortable doing it, Joe’s Gone Diving, and our instructor Eby especially was just the BEST! It felt so amazing to explore under the shore and I’m left with unforgettable memories and moments to last a life time. Much scuba love!
A MUST in Bali, for bookings visit – www.joesgonediving.com