Best Diving in Australia

4.02083333333
(12 REVIEWS)
Adelaide alt
diving australia
scuba diving australia
minke whale
scuba diving australia

Scuba diving in Australia

Book Now Button


Check here for the latest travel advisory to Australia in the light of the current coronavirus outbreak.


Australia diving highlights

The Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea offer tremendous volume and diversity of marine life, well managed marine parks, professional dive operations and diving suitable for all experience levels. There is great diving at every depth and a variety of marine life including sharks, minke whales, and large potato cod (potato grouper). In Adelaide, there is some exceptional diving off jetties, where you can see the leafy sea dragon.

Interested in diving in Australia?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in Australia and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for specials and land-based options.


Australias BEST DIVING destinations

Pick a destination or scroll down to read the entire list:  

1. The Great Barrier Reef - World's biggest coral reef system

2. Ningaloo ReefBeautiful coral and best place to swim with whale sharks

3. South Australia The spot for cage diving with great white sharks

4. New South Wales - Dive sites with unique marine biodiversity

5. Victoria - Unique piers and great wreck dives

6. Western Australia - Lesser visited sites and home to some rare species


Or see the top 10 dive sites in Australia.

 


 

Intro to Scuba Diving in Australia

The continent located south of the equator attracts scuba divers all year round and mainly to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Nevertheless, the island itself is huge and offers countless of beautiful dive sites beyond the famous reef. The choices for scuba divers are endless from colorful coral reefs, wrecks, giant kelp forests, and big pelagics. You can even dive with the great white sharks! Besides enjoyable fun dives, Australia is also a great place to get your dive certification in the first place as it has dive sites for all levels of divers. More experienced divers can also upgrade their skills by taking some technical diving courses. Besides numerous underwater adventures, the country itself has great topside activities being home to some gorgeous beaches, unique wildlife, mountains, and rainforests.  

View Location on Google Map

Australia liveaboards and dive resorts

There are many options for liveaboard diving in Australia. Most of them include the Great Barrier Reef. Joining a dive liveaboard will give you the ultimate diving holiday in Australia and will also show you some beautiful sites that dive boats are not able to visit. Australia also has plenty of dive resorts, which are more suitable if you want to also discover some of the great topside activities Australia has to offer. 

 

Diving Information 

Book Now Button


Marine Life

Most scuba divers go diving in Australia to see the world heritage area, the Great Barrier Reef, that is home to more than 1500 fish species. Though Australia has a very diverse marine life, the destination is still best for seeing big fish rather than macro life. You can spot lots of different species of sharks like blacktip, whitetip sharks or wobbegongs. Whales are also quite common and you can see some humpback whales and minke whales. The Great Barrier Reef is also home to all the six of the whole world's seven turtle species.

Here are some of the marine life you are likely to see when diving in Australia: 

  • Sharks
  • Turtles
  • Whales
  • Manta Rays
  • Dolphins
  • Seals
  • Sea Lions
  • Giant Clams
  • Maori Wrasse
  • Clown Fish
  • Cuttlefish
  • Octopus
  • Seahorse
  • Goblinfish
  • Leafy Seadragon
  • Nudibranch

 

 

Ribbon Reef / Osprey Reef video

Potato cod at 2:20, minke whales at 2:46, sharks at 3:24

0:15 - Schooling fish; 0:23 - snappers; 0:30 - Minke whale; 1:14 - table corals; 2:14 - trevally; 3:42 - sea snake; 4:00 - snappers

 

Back to Menu

 

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperatures: Can be anywhere between 70 - 87 degrees.
  • Visibility: Visibility on day trips will be between 50 and 100 ft. while further sites reached via liveaboard can be up to 150 ft. 
  • Depth Range: The majority of dive sites will be relatively shallow, 30 - 60 feet.


 

Best Dive Areas in Australia

1. The Great Barrier Reef

On many scuba divers bucket lists, the world's biggest coral reef system has plenty of amazing dive opportunities to offer. Being so rich in marine life, it has become one of the best diving destinations in the world. Much of the reef is also protected, which is why it is also one of the best dive areas in Australia. The Great Barrier reef is home to many shark species including whale sharks and hammerhead sharks. The reef is also a great opportunity to spot whales like the dwarf minke whales or sperm whales. Much other fish like barracudas, giant groupers, blue spotted rays, turtles and parrotfish can be seen. Besides big pelagics, the Great Barrier reef has offered some beautiful healthy coral, great visibility, and numerous dive sites for different levels of divers. Even though it is highly popular among scuba divers and snorkelers as well, there are also some great dive sites that are rarely visited. 

Want to know more about diving the Great Barrier Reef? Read all about it in our Great Barrier Reef Dive Guide.

2. Ningaloo Reef

Located on the west side of Australia, the Ningaloo Reef is home to the second largest coral reef and an area is not to be missed. The Ningaloo Marine Park has also been listed as a world heritage site, why it's also a good competitor for the Great Barrier Reef. This area is not only great for its amazing coral, but it is one of the best places to swim with whale sharks. The highest chance of seeing these creatures is during the months of April and May. During the winter months, you can even see manta rays. Humpback whales, turtles, and dolphins can be seen very often. The Ningaloo Reef is also one of the best spots in Australia for macro as it is home to many beautiful critters. 

3. South Australia

Diving in South Australia offers true pleasure to all the wreck divers. Throughout the area, there are many shipwrecks to explore. Generally less visited dive area, it is great for escaping the crowds and discover some true gems. South Australia does not only have some nice boat dives but also some very good shore dives. The marine life is wonderful and you can even see some seals and leafy sea dragons in this dive destination. Moreover, this is the spot where adventure lovers come to scuba dive with the great white shark. South Australia is considered among one of the world's best places to shark cage dive and the only place in Australia where you can meet these majestic creatures. 

4. New South Wales 

Like the above-mentioned areas, New South Wales does not lack options for scuba divers either. One of the most popular holiday destinations, Byron Bay with some of the best beaches, great waves for surfing, and of course great scuba diving, is located there. Another UNESCO heritage site, the Lord Howe Island with rare coral and fish species offers absolutely amazing dives. Having a mixture of different currents is why the site is packed with healthy and unique marine biodiversity making it a dream scuba diving destination. 

5. Victoria

Fantastic variety of marine life brings you octopuses, seals, seahorses, eels, nudibranch, weedy seadragons, and plenty of others. Victoria has also some great dive sites for wreck divers. Some of the piers in Victoria have created some unique dive sites with a mystical atmosphere for marine life seeking shade and shelter. 

6. Western Australia

Down from Ningaloo Reef, the rest of Western Australia is rich in marine biodiversity. As a lesser-visited area, many rare and endemic species like to call it their home. Some of the marine life you can see in the area are sharks, cuttlefish, octopus, trevally, mackerel, squids, turtles, dolphins and the list goes on. 

 

Best Dive Sites

  • 1. North Horn - Located in the Coral Sea on a remote atoll called Osprey Reef. Grey Sharks, Silvertip, Great Hammerhead Sharks, and the rare Tiger Shark can all be seen at North Horn.
  • 2. The Yongala Wreck - One of the best shipwrecks to dive in the world, located near Townsville in Queensland. You can spot giant groupers, eagles rays, manta Rays, sea turtles, sea snakes, huge schools of Barracudas, giant trevallies, and various species of sharks. Excellent hard and soft coral and gorgonians sea fans can also be found here. 
  • 3. Navy Pier -  Located in Exmouth, close to the Ningaloo Reef. Wobbegong shark, the grey nurse shark, whitetip reef shark, nudibranch, flat worms, frog fishes, scorpions fishes, and stone fishes are often spotted there.
  • 4. Lord Howe Island - The most southern coral reef with a mixture of currents of different temperatures has brought scuba divers some unique endemic species that cannot be seen elsewhere. The marine life and flora and fauna is truly wonderful. What is even better, only a limited number of tourists are allowed there, which means you are very likely to have the dive site for yourself!
  • 5. Shelly Beach - This shore dive will take you through some great big boulders with gorgeous reef, seagrass, and beautiful white sand. You can spot some rays and even wobbegongs. 
  • 6. Cod Hole - Located on The Great Barrier Reef.  Besides the large potato cods and Maori wrasses, you can also spot whitetip reef sharks, emperor angelfishes, and triggerfishes.
  • 7. Flinders Pier - This popular shore dive will give you a chance to meet its weedy sea dragons. It's also a great dive site to spot some stingrays and eagle rays, cuttlefish, crabs, and different sponges. Unlike other piers, this one has a grass bottom that attracts plenty of life and why weedy sea dragons love this place. 
  • 8. Neptune Islands - For a thrilling adventure of meeting the ultimate apex predator of the seas, the Neptune Islands are among the best places to shark cage dive. You can get real close with great white sharks and have the opportunity to surface or floor cage dive. 
  • 9. Fish Rock Cave - If diving caves and caverns are something that interests you, you must add Fish Rock Cave to your list. The dive site does not only display a cave, but the cave itself is full of marine life. Diving through the cave you can meet nurse sharks, wobbegong, morays, octopus and turtles. The dive site is more suitable for advanced divers. 
  • 10. Lonsdale Wall - This great wall dive provides scuba divers with exciting swim-throughs where stunning soft coral, hanging sea fans and sponges have taken over. A variety of fish like to take shelter under the ledges, overhangs or undercuts. You can spot cuttlefish, seastars, nudibranch, blue devilfish among many others. 

  

Back to Menu

 

Travel Information 

Book Now Button


How to Get There

There are several airlines that fly non-stop between Australia and the US. The airport in Sydney offers the best options for international and domestic flights. Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide also have many international flights. 

 

How to Dive Australia

Although you can take day trips out to dive - in general, the further you go the better the diving becomes.  Due to this, liveaboards are typically better to properly experience what all Australia diving has to offer. In general, the Great Barrier Reef is the most popular, but the Coral Sea is better.

 

Best Time to Dive

The best time to dive fluctuates for what area of Australia you are diving. Numerous areas are accessible year-round, but the southern parts can have bad weather between May-October.  

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Due to Australia's size, it is near impossible to cover all the things you can do while visiting Australia.  It is also dependent on what areas you are visiting. But to touch on a few; no trip can be complete without learning of Australia's Aboriginal culture, try taking a hike to the sacred site of Uluru to catch the sunrise or sunset.   For you city lovers, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge or see a show at the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Or just take a drive along The Great Ocean Road - a scenic drive you won't forget. Australia is an inspiring place to visit, find out all about it.

Back to Menu

 

Liveaboard availability

Book Now Button


The rates shown below are per person in USD. The actual rates provided by the operators are based in Australian Dollar (AUD). The pricing at the time of booking may vary depending on the latest AUD/USD exchange rate.

  

Other Useful Information 

Book Now Button


Practical Information

  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Electricity: 230V 50Hz
  • Language: English
  • Time Zone: Australia has 5 standard time zones: Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) - UTC+8; Australian Central Western Standard Time (ACWST) - UTC+8:45; Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) - UTC+9:30; Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) - UTC+10; Lord Howe Standard Time (LHST) - UTC+10:30
  • Entry Requirements: You must have a valid U.S. passport and a visa to enter Australia. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Australia for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

Back to Menu

 

GOT QUESTIONS? READY TO BOOK?

Call us today at 310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

 Back to Menu

Region: 

Reviews (12)

4
5
5
5

Australia is definitely a bucket list dive destination. Yes, you can go scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, but that is not where my fiancee and I decided to go. Instead, we went to Adelaide, South Australia, and the diving was fantastic. Very unique, very cool, and not busy or crowded.

Rapid Bay jetty is an amazing shore dive with lots of cool fish, especially the beautiful leafy sea dragon. Every dive we looked for leafies there, we found them, including some juveniles!

Our other favourite dive site was a prime macro destination - Edithburgh jetty. The night dives were absolutely insane, just crawling with cool cephalopods with pyjama squid, bobtail squid, Southern sand octopus, blue ring octopus, and pygmy cuttlefish (we saw all of those on one dive).

We were there in December/January, meaning the water temps were at their warmest, but still chilly (20 degrees C). However, it was quite hot on land, up to 35 C +. Topside we went to Kangaroo Island, also nearby, and saw tons of cool stuff in the wild. We swam with bottlenose dolphins, and got up close to wild koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and echnidnas. It was awesome.

Also on our trip, we went diving in Sydney. Surprisingly, the diving was very good there as well, with great encounters with a giant cuttlefish, Port Jackson sharks, and other fun critters.

Cost-wise, the diving is a bit pricy, especially if you rent gear. If you bring your own gear, it would be very affordable. So, if you are going to Australia, think outside the Great Barrier Reef for some unique diving experiences!

Visited on 01/2019 - Submitted on 06/19/2019
3
3
3
5

Location: Byron Bay (Julian Rocks)

Byron Bay is probably my favorite place in Australia. Byron Bay is an amazing little beach town in northern NSW. It is somewhat of a surf town, and it is popular among young backpackers. Byron Bay has a wide selection of accommodation from camping, and cheap hostels, to bed and breakfasts, and beach side hotels. It also has a great selection of bars and restaurants that are open late into the night.

Cape Byron is the most eastern point of the Australian mainland. All of the diving in Byron Bay is concentrated on a large rock formation just off shore, known as Julian Rocks, and is easily visible from the beach. During the summer months tropical species can be found out at the dive sites, and during the winter, colder water species are found. During the winter months the rocks host a large population of the endangered Grey Nurse sharks. The winter months also bring migrating humpback whales. Although you will probably not see a humpback on a dive, it is common to hear them, and come across them on the short boat ride out or back from the rock. During the summer months when the water warms, the tropical species move in, and it common to see Leopard sharks, as well as manta rays. Other tropical species such as eagle rays, lion fish, bat fish, and colorful reef fish can also be found. Year round inhabitants of the rocks include two species of Wobbegong shark, green and loggerhead turtles, massive bull sting rays, guitar fish, king fish, and big friendly Blue Gropers. Being a temperate dive location, visibility and conditions can vary greatly and change quickly. Visibility can range from just a few meters to 25+ on a great day.

The most commonly visited site at the rocks is called the nursery. The nursery is a shallow site that bottoms out around 12 meters at the deepest. It is the most sheltered site, and this is where any classes are usually held. The needles is on the south side of the rock and is about 15 meters in depth. The currents are stronger at this site. The currents draw large schools of fish, and lots of rays. One of my favorite dives is to start in the nursery and end in the needles. Hugo's trench is on the opposite side of the rock from the nursery. This site is more exposed and not visited nearly as much as the nursery side. The site is about 15-20 meters deep. The trench runs perpendicular to the rock and is home to a huge amount of life, and interesting rock formations.

Byron Bay is great town, and should not be missed in Australia. Few travelers go there just for the diving, but if you do visit, I highly recommend doing a day or two of diving.

Visited on 08/2012 - Submitted on 09/27/2015
3
5
5
4

Location: HERON ISLAND (Great Barrier Reef)

Heron Island is a small coral island located about 90 km off the coast of Gladstone in Queensland, AUS. The island is amazingly beautiful, and looks like a postcard. The island is also very small, you can walk around the entire island in about 20 minutes. Heron Island is home to one resort, and the University of Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Marine Research Station. I have not stayed at the resort so I cannot comment on the resort itself, but I was lucky enough to stay at the Marine Research station for 2 weeks while I was studying at UQ. The resort is small and so is the marine research station, so you will never have to worry about crowds or busy dive sites. The island is home to 100,000+ nesting sea birds, as well as a nesting site for green and loggerhead turtles between the months of March and October. Whales can be seen moving through the deeper water off the island during the winter months. The island is surrounded by an unbroken picturesque white sand beach and a shallow coral reef shelf.

There are several options for getting to the island. There is a boat that runs from Gladstone a few days a week. There is also a helicopter pad on the island if you wish to use a faster (and much more expensive) travel mode. Sea plane is the other option.

The resort dive operation is the only dive operation open to the public on the island. The diving on Heron Island is absolutely amazing. Most of the dives are relatively shallow, very few are below 20 meters. The reefs around the island are very healthy; I have never seen so much healthy stag coral anywhere else. The reefs have an abundant amount of marine life. I will never forget that I saw my first Manta ray here, as well as my first tiger shark. Turtles, sharks and rays were seen on pretty much every dive I did. White tip sharks, Grey reef sharks, the occasional tiger shark, manta rays, green turtles, logger head turtles, barramundi cod, coral cod, huge numbers of rays, barracuda, sea snakes, countless colorful reef fish, coral trout, octopus, spotted eagle rays etc. are all found at the sites around the island. The currents at some of the sites can be swift, so there are a number of drift dives done around the island. For the non-divers in your group, the shallow reef surrounding the island is also perfect for snorkeling. There is also a channel cut through the reef to allow boat access to the dock. Snorkeling in this trench in the late afternoon after any boat traffic has stopped is great. In this trench in the evening it is common to see large number of white tipped reef sharks prowling the trench, as well as sleeping turtles, and schools of small bait fish. At the end of the trench is a large intact ship wreck, the HMAS Brisbane, that is only partially submerged, most of the wreck is above water. This island truly is a divers paradise, and I cant recommend it enough.

Visited on 10/2008 - Submitted on 09/12/2015
4
5
0
5

LOCATION: Lord Howe Island

I've been fortunate enough to have several trips to Lord Howe Island and do a fair bit of diving there. Lord Howe is a World Heritage listed area and regularly features as one of the best holiday destinations in the world. It is a truly unique place. The Island is located about 600km (370mi) east of Port Macquarie on mainland Australia. So it's part of Australia, but a long way from anywhere. The whole island is about 10km long and between 0.3 and 2km wide. No more than 400 tourists are allowed on the Island at any one time and it's accessible by flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Port Macquarie. There is no mobile phone coverage and limited internet access so it's really an escape from everyday life. A dozen people in the one place is a big crowd for Lord Howe Island. It's relatively expensive. Flights and accommodation are relatively expensive. There are very few shops on the Island but they can supply all your basic needs. But once you are there you are in paradise, above and below the water. There are great walks, beaches, lot's of birds, fishing. It's not an action adventure destination, it's a relaxing laid back place.

There is great snorkelling right off the beach, particularly at Ned's Beach. You can also do some real nice snorkelling sites in the lagoon but they are better done via a tour with one of the local operators. They are all good. There are two dive operators on the Island. There are a range of boat dives you can do, mostly a short trip away. Some of these are just outside the lagoon, others off the Malabar headland or the Admiralties (a group of rocks and very small Island now far from the main island). Diving around the Island is generally in 12-18m. There is a lot to see and around the Island you can take your pick with wide-angle or macro photography. Arguably the best diving is at Ball's Pyramid which is about 23km SE of the Island and when the weather is good boats head out there for a days diving. Ball's Pyramid is a 562m high rocky outcrop which is the tallest volcanic stack in the world. Diving at Ball's is in around 30m plus and is like swimming in an aquarium. A good day there is the equal of just about any dive site in the world. Bring your wide-angle for Ball's because everything is scaled up!

The dive shops have all the equipment you need but it's basic diving only (i.e. no nitrox or rebreathers etc that I'm aware of). They will have very basic spare parts and items for sale (mask's, snorkels, things for basic repairs) and they will go out of their way to fix a problem with your gear. But because the Island is so remote and everything comes in via plane or the small cargo ship that supplies the Island they keep it pretty simple.

The Island is the southern most reef in Australia and has an interesting mix of tropical and temperate conditions. You'll need a wetsuit to dive even in summer, and definitely in winter. The marine life is incredibly diverse as there are over 90 species of coral and 500 species of fish inhabiting the reef: turtles, reef sharks, morays, lobster, clown fish, angelfish, nudibranchs and more. I was even lucky enough to be on a trip that swam with a young whale shark we encountered on the way to Ball's Pyramid several years back.

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 08/04/2014

BE THE FIRST TO GET NEWS AND SPECIALS

Sign up for the mailing list today