Did you know that there is fantastic scuba diving in Sydney? You were probably thinking that you needed to go to the Great Barrier Reef to have an excellent underwater adventure, but you will be surprised and pleased with the numerous places around Sydney that offer scuba divers a chance for underwater exploration. There are dive sites in Sydney that will make your head spin trying to catch a glimpse of all the colourful marine life.
Looking for more excitement or maybe scuba diving with sharks? Don’t worry, there are plenty of shark diving opportunities that provide close encounters with endangered grey nurse and Port Jackson to Wobbegong and don’t forget about the great whites that roam the waters.
Read on to find-out where the best places for scuba diving are in Sydney.
Bare Island boasts a couple of shore dives suitable for all types of scuba divers. The eastern side of the island usually has better visibility than the western side of the island. During the warmer months you can spot a turtle or a grey nurse shark and there is always plenty of vibrantly coloured marine life such as red Indian, pygmy pipe and nudibranchs.
Depth: 3–15 metres
Ideal for: All levels of scuba divers
- There is high boat traffic in the area; divers should use a flag
- This area is ideal for snorkeling too
- While on land, take a tour of nearby Prince Henry Hospital Museum
The colours at South Head sports a perfect wall dive for advanced scuba divers. Your mouth will drop when you see the flamboyant colours of the gorgonian sponge clinging to walls. Be prepared to watch sea squirts, breams, ascidians and silver sweep.
Depth: 22–35 metres
Ideal for: Advanced scuba divers and marine diving
- Stop by the Rocks Discovery Museum on shore.
- Learn more about Australian archaeology at the Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre.
- Take a walk through of the Barangaroo Reserve.
One of the best muck dives in Sydney Harbour is at Chowder Bay at Clifton Gardens. Take your time on this shore dive when you explore this area which features blue ringed octopus, goatfish, cuttlefish and frogfish.
Depth: 10 metres
Ideal for: Beginners and intermediate divers
- The famous Taronga Zoo is located nearby, take a tour and enjoy the scenery from the cable car.
- Go for a walk through on the Cremorne Point to Mosman Bay Walk.
HMAS Adelaide offers the excitement of shipwreck diving in Sydney. The HMAS Adelaide was sent to the bottom in 2011 and has created an area that is teeming with marine life from yellow tail to blue groper. Open water and advanced divers can experience a swim-through of this battle frigate including the bridge, the operations room and the helicopter hangar.
Depth: 18-35 metres
Ideal for: Wreck divers and beginners but only advanced divers can swim-through the wreck
- Besides HMAS Adelaide, there are numerous shipwrecks in the Sydney area to explore. You can also dive at the Valiant and SS Annie Miller while the Catherine Adamson shipwreck features a gorgeous Sponge Garden.
Camp Cove is a perfect shore dive which is also an ideal site for snorkeling in Sydney. There are three options for a diver to select with the best time for diving during slack high tide. Experience thrilling swim-throughs, large boulder fields and numerous overhangs that are packed with marine life.
Depth: 8 metres
Ideal for: Beginner snorkelers
- Camp cove is a great location for fishing and snorkeling too!
- There are plenty of walking trails nearby at Parsley Bay Reserve.
Shelly Beach at Manly is an ideal shore dive for beginners. Divers can easily enter the water from the beach and will be astonished with vast amount of diversity of marine life that ranges from small Dusky Whaler sharks to weedy sea dragons to dolphins. There are two separate dive sites here which include large boulders, plenty of sandy bottom and lots of kelp to keep divers busy.
Depth: 2-6 metres
Ideal for: Beginners and intermediate divers
- Shelly Beach is the perfect spot for night diving too
- The area is part of the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve which is a “No Take” zone that is completely set aside from human disturbance. It is prohibited to remove any natural resources from this area.
- Snorkeling is great here too!
- Save time for a barbeque after your dive on the beach.
- Take a walk along the Manly Scenic Walkway.
Advanced and open water divers will fall in love with Blue Fish Point Wall at Manly. There are plenty of brightly coloured soft sponges and corals that are attached to the large boulders. Follow the wall which plunges to a sandy bottom while viewing yellow tail, weedy sea dragons and Wobbegong sharks.
Depth: 15-22 metres
Ideal for: Marine diving for advanced divers
- Stop by the Aboriginal Dreamtime Fine Art Gallery for fascinating local art.
- Visit the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary and try the Shark Dive Xtreme for a splendid cage dive with a great white.
A pleasant place to go shark diving in Sydney is the Apartments at Long Reef. Once in the water you can explore large stacked boulders which will remind you of an apartment building. Adjacent to the Apartments is a spectacular wall dive that is 200 metres long. There is an abundance of cracks and fissures as well as a few caves like Cathedral Cave which offers a grand swim-through. Divers will be delighted viewing larger fish such as grey nurse sharks, Port Jackson sharks and red morwong.
Depth: 11-21 metres
Ideal for: Cave diving and marine diving for intermediate and advanced divers
- After diving you can take a short drive to Narrabeen Lagoon State Park.
- Stop by the Royal Botanic Gardens or relax at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.
Oak Park in Cronulla boasts both wall and reef dives which are superb for all types of divers from novices to experts. The dive site is excellent for night dives with the possibility of seeing eastern blue devil, blue ringed octopus, angel sharks, schools of yellow tail and the vibrant children’s park rocking horse.
Depth: 3-12 metres
Ideal for: Night diving for beginners to advanced divers
- Dive with a flag at this location.
- Looking to try something different than scuba diving? Surfing is also popular at this location.
Deep divers in the North Curl Curl Beach area will find exhilarating diving at Dee Why Wide. The offshore reef boasts plenty of interesting sea creatures like an occasional grey nurse shark, schools of bullseye, and an assortment of rays and kingfish.
Depth: 28-36 metres
Ideal for: Intermediate to advanced marine wildlife diving
- Safety precautions at this dive site include a surface buoy for each diver.
- After diving take a stroll through out the Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden.
- Take a tour of the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Located in Watson’s Bay, The Gap is a superb offshore dive for novices. The dive site features shelves, boulders and caves with plenty of swim-throughs. Divers will be thrilled with the abundance of colourful sponges and marine life like Port Jackson sharks, Blue Groper, rays as well as weedy sea dragons.
Depth: 18-20 metres
Ideal for: Cave diving and marine wildlife diving
- Relax on the self-guided Barangaroo Foreshore Walk.
- Experience 19th century living in Sydney at the nearby Susannah Place Museum.
- For a panoramic view stop at Pylon Lookout at Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Old Man’s Hat at North Head features a rocky reef dive for all types of scuba divers. Colourful sponges hang-on the walls and overhangs. Find a tremendous amount of marine life in the water such as Port Jackson sharks, pomfrets, nudibranchs and Wobbegong sharks.
Depth: 18-24 metres
Ideal for: All types of divers
- After your dive you can also stop by the National Artillery Museum.
- Take a short drive and experience the interesting landmark called Dobroyd Head.
- You will be delighted with the views and wildlife at North Head Sanctuary.
Water temperatures in Sydney are ideal for scuba diving most of the year. You will find the warmest waters in January when temperatures average between 22 and 25°C which is also the best time to visit Sydney. In August, you can put your wetsuit on and take the plunge in waters that range from 16 to 19°C.
Whether you are a novice or expert scuba diver, you can be assured there is an ideal dive site for you in Sydney. Divers can experience a challenging swim-through a cave discover plenty of brightly coloured sponges as well as corals gracing the underwater boulder fields. You will view amazing marine life that is vibrant in colour and action in these fantastic sites for scuba diving in Sydney that will satisfy your wants of a thrilling underwater adventure.
If you want more dive sites around Australia, check out our article on best places to go diving in Australia.