The Japanese wreck at Banyuning near Amed is the “other” shipwreck in the area and although it clearly plays second fiddle to the Liberty wreck at Tulamben – which is tough because the Liberty is generally ranked as one of the best wreck sites in Asia.
But there is no doubt that the Japanese wreck is an excellent dive in its own right – kind of like the pretty girl with the beautiful sister…
Its location in shallow water, just off the beach in Lipah Bay near the small village of Banyuning, places it close to Gili Selang where the forces of the Indonesian Throughflow are at their most powerful.
Which means there is an abundance of nutrient rich water feeding the marine life on and around the wreck.
History of the Japanese Wreck in Amed, North-East Bali
Very little is known about the wreck and how it ended up sank at Banyuning, or even if it really was a Japanese ship…
In fact the only indication I could find about its heritage is that the nearly intact Asian style toilet found on the wreck made somebody in the past think that the ship must have been from Japan.
There was a time when hardly anybody dived the wreck as the general area was considered to be quite remote and the road along the coast was in poor condition and washed out regularly during the rainy season.
But all that has changed and the wreck can get quite crowded at times with both divers and snorkelers – there is even a rental area at the beachside cafe.
Diving the Japanese Wreck could not be easier as there is now a small car park near the beach where you can kit up and then it’s a short walk down to the beach.
Once in the water it’s a short surface swim over to the buoy that marks the wreck just off the beach and you are there!
The wreck is quite a small one and looks like it used to be a tug, but it is quite hard to tell now given that it is on its side and partially broken up.
The depth on the wreck varies from just 6m, down to about 12m, and it lies on silty sand that can easily be stirred up by too many divers or a change in the prevailing currents, but overall the wreck itself is a very easy & safe dive.
The wreck now sports a fine array of large gorgonian fans, sponges and general marine life – with the area around the stern particularly vibrant.
The large propeller is still attached and is so richly coated with marine growth that it takes a few moments to actually recognize what it is!
Quite how the wreck ended up on the beach at Banyuning would certainly be an interesting story because the condition of the wreck, with its large marine diesel engine sat bolt upright in the deeper water and surrounded by crankshafts and other engine room debris, points to quite a violent end to its life afloat.
The reef area to the north of the wreck is well worth exploring as there are some really nice small bommies with healthy coral growth and barrel sponges – but don’t go to far as you will wander away from the shelter of Lipah Bay and get a taste of the Indonesian Throughflow as it enters the Lombok Strait.
When to dive the Japanese Wreck
The Japanese Wreck can virtually be dived all year round because of its fairly sheltered location, but will definitely be at its best during the dry monsoonal season between April and November.
The silty bottom and the shallow depth of the wreck means that choppy seas will quickly degrade the underwater visibility and really spoil the dive…
The wreck offers a great location for photographers and you will need a fish-eye lens to do the site justice… but don’t forget your macro lenses as well as there are a lot of commensal shrimps on those gorgonian fans.
For wide-angle photography it is best to dive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the harsh overhead sun during mid-day which is an issue because of the shallow depth.