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12 Best Places to Go Diving in Australia

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What’s on your bucket list? If diving around a colourful and dynamic reef is a part of it then you’re definitely in luck. When it comes to diving in Australia, this country boasts some of the best reefs with the greatest range of aquatic life in the world, and they’re all easily accessible right off the coast.

Unless you are already trained, after just a short training course to cover the basics of diving and safety under the waves, you’ll be all set to dive down into the mesmerising azure-blue depths.

1. Great Barrier Reef

The Giant Manta Ray in Great Barrier Reef
A scuba diver swims with the Giant Manta Ray in the Great Barrier Reef.
Great Barrier Reef, one of the prime spots for diving in Australia.
The reef itself is over 2,500 km long and consists of almost 3,000 different and individual reefs.

Many divers flock every year to witness the huge array of aquatic life at the Great Barrier Reef located in the northeast part of Queensland. The water here stays relatively warm all year round so there’s never a bad time to visit: it ranges from around 24 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees in the summer. The reef itself is over 2,500km long and consists of almost 3,000 different and individual reefs, so needless to say there’s plenty to see and do. You can also find many dive sites in the Great Barrier Reef including Whitsunday Island and Cairns. If you visit between January and April, you might catch a glimpse of the Dwarf Minke Whale and the Giant Manta Ray.

Good to know

  • The reef is the largest living thing on earth, and it’s even visible from outer space!
  • There are over 600 types of coral — not to mention the vast array of fish
  • You can hire a sea-plane and capture the spectacular views from the sky
  • There are also various sailing trips offered, giving you the chance to island hop for a few days and try your hand at sailing

2. Sydney

Besides diving in Sydney, you can also enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
Besides diving in Sydney, you can also enjoy the beautiful landscapes.

The diving down at Sydney Harbour is extremely varied. There are a large number of sites you can visit to see different species of fish and coral. The temperatures can get pretty chilly here, normally ranging between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. However, take note if you are thinking of snorkeling in Australia around this coast, it’s the home of the Great White Shark. You can also partake cage diving trips around here.

Good to know

  • There are multiple places to learn to dive here, from taster sessions to longer courses on consecutive days
  • You can also explore the city and its best points of interest along with the famous Blue Mountains National Park nearby
  • Walk 2.4km across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and have yourself a picture perfect moment
  • The largest city in Australia, Sydney has a population of over four million

3. Neptune Islands

If seeing a Great White Shark caught your attention, then consider a trip to Neptune Islands, where you’ll get a chance to experience the notorious shark up close. And don’t worry, you don’t need any previous diving experience to go cage-diving here as you’ll be suspended in a metal cage near the surface of the ocean.

Good to know

  • You can dive to a depth of around 80m within a mile of the coast
  • The northern islands are famous for shark cage-diving experiences, where people have witnessed the huge creature since the 1970s
  • From November to May, fur seals congregate here for their annual breeding sessions

4. Bare Island

A view of Bare Island in Australia
Bare island is a picturesque destination both over and under water.

Just away from Sydney lies Bare Island, a very popular spot for diving in Australia and where you’ll also get a chance to see the endangered species, the Grey Nurse Shark.

Good to know

  • On top of diving and snorkeling, there are day tours to the fort to enjoy, with brilliant views of La Perouse
  • Enjoy a picturesque picnic by the bay to enjoy the breath-taking scenery
  • You can actually hire the entire island! Perfect wedding setting? We think so!
  • It's an unpopulated island so you could be the only people on the island when you visit

5. Lord Howe Island

View of Lord Howe Island
Stunning view of the Lord Howe Island

You may also want to head to Lord Howe Island, which is located at the meeting point of no less than five major ocean currents. Here you will find a real mixed bag of species due to the various currents crossing over. There’s nearly 100 species of coral alone and over 500 species of fish along with the spectacular Balls Pyramid, a sea stack in the shape of a castle — how could you resist?

Good to know

  • There are huge colonies of seabirds here so if you're an avid bird watcher this is your paradise
  • The Island has a population of just under 400 people
  • The island is actually the remains of a 7 million year old volcano, which is said to have erupted constantly for over half a million years

6. Tasmania

If you’re wanting to avoid the highly touristy areas and dive down into a place that is a lot less visited by people, then head down to the unique and enchanting island of Tasmania. From steep ocean walls to forests of kelp and sea-grasses, there’s something here for everyone.

Good to know

  • Pick up some unique treats at the Salamanca market
  • Enjoy the wondrous scenery at the Freycinet National Park
  • The island is also home to Cradle Mountain, where you can climb, hike or try your hand at mountaineering

7. Cairns

Diving in Great Barrier Reef Australia
Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on earth that is home to over 600 types of coral.

Once you arrive in Cairns you can take day trips to the various reefs just off the coast, such as the Milln and Pellowe reefs. These offer divers great conditions, along with abundant marine life and beautiful, bright corals.

Good to know

  • Take a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway where you can take a gondola over the tops of the rainforest
  • The city enjoys a laid back culture and rumour has it that there is a very stylish populous
  • You can also enjoy diving in the Great Barrier Reef from this location too

8. Ningaloo Reef

If larger marine life is more up your street then head to the Ningaloo reef in Western Australia, which is over 260 km long. You are more likely to see species such as turtles, whale sharks and manta rays here. And if you decide to go scuba diving in Australia between June and November, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a Humpback whale!

Good to know

  • There are many smaller, more secluded areas of this reef, meaning you can enjoy diving away from the rafts of tourists
  • Whale sharks often frequent here so this is a perfect chance to swim alongside these brilliant creatures
  • It's one of the longest fringing coral reefs in the world

9. Portsea Pier

Leafy Seadragon in Portsea Pier
You can catch a glimpse of the leafy seadragon while diving in Portsea Pier.
Cleaner Shrimp in Portsea Pier
Other small creatures include the adorable cleaner shrimp.

On the other end of the scale is smaller marine life, such as the various species of shrimp and the Leafy Seadragon. You should definitely head to Portsea Pier to fill your camera full of pictures of these beautiful and delicate creatures.

Good to know

  • This area's beach is well-known for great surfing conditions with large waves and strong tides
  • It's an active boating area, so make sure to avoid any boating routes while you are diving
  • Portsea Pier has a population of just under 500 people and covers just 4 km²

10. Fish Rock

Grey Nurse shark in the waters
The Grey Nurse Shark swims inside the underwater caves of Fish Rock.

This specific cave is probably most suitable for more seasoned divers. Around 2 km off the Smoky Cape, at South West Rocks, you will plummet through the center of Fish Rock down a cave of over 100 m. And then, if you still want more excitement after making your way through the deep cave, then you’ll be glad to know you come out in a 12 m deep cavern which is teeming with the endangered Grey Nurse Sharks that we’ve previously mentioned.

Good to know

  • Don't be fooled by the exterior, with 125 m to explore it's one of the largest ocean caves in the Southern Hemisphere
  • The Smoky Cape has several other diving spots around Fish Rock especially suitable for shore diving

11. Waterfall Bay

Another cave system which is very extensive can be found at Waterfall Bay. Here you can snorkel your way around Australia, through giant kelp forests and take an adventure down a cave of your choosing — who knows where it will take you?

Good to know

  • In under two hours you can complete the coastal walk, with over six viewing platforms along the route
  • Get the chance to spot the natural masterpiece, the Tasman Arch on the way
  • The track stays close to the water all the way and the water plunges into the sea at the end

12. Port Phillip Bay

Diver interacts with Fur seals
Port Phillip Bay is home to numerous fur seals.

Finally, around Port Phillip Bay you’ll find an astonishing range of life at a depth you can snorkel, from sea dragons to seahorses, there is lots to make you snap-happy. No previous experience is necessary and many guides will provide you with all the equipment you need to dive in and get going.

Good to know

  • You don't need to be a seasoned pro here as many companies offer starter lessons and day trips so everyone can join in the dive
  • Check out the modern Federation Square development with boutique shops, bars and restaurants along the Yarra River
  • Head to Southbank where you can enjoy art culture at the National Gallery with both Australian and indigenous art

As you can see, there are many places to consider when it comes to diving in Australia, along with many different species of life both large and small to tempt you into the bluest depths. Grab your underwater camera and jump in feet first and see what you can discover.

For Australia tours and holiday packages, visit Trips in Australia.

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