With five Marine World Heritage Sites, thousands of kilometres of the Australian continent and Tasmania, plus the many islands offer much to divers seeking unique and memorable places to dive. The more than eight thousand shipwrecks in Australia’s relatively short history has also proved an attraction to divers from around the world.
You can dive here the year round. the Marine World Heritage Sites, chosen for their natural and cutural value, include the Great Barrier Reef, stretching along the Queensland coast, with its many islands. Designated by UNESCO, the five also include Lord Howe Island, Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Coast.
There are lots of places you can learn to dive (SCUBA) when on vacation here. In the major cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane there are numerous schools. Until you have received certification (C Card or other certification) you cannot participate in any diving cruises, or even hire equipment. So bring your card or other certification with you if you wish to dive.
Seasons in Australia are reversed, winter (June, July, August) diving conditions can be effected by cold weather in the southern parts of the continent and Tasmania. In summer, occasional cyclones can threaten a planned dive further north in places like the Queensland Great Barrier Reef.
In the far north, the best diving conditions can be found during our winter season. In summer, one needs to protect oneself against the hazards of box jellyfish.
Here is a selection of the best diving in Australia:
On the South Coast of NSW, places like Merimbula and Eden offer some great diving experiences. Where whales migrate or amongst wrecks, in deep caverns or just to enjoy the multitudes of fish and other marine life, there is a whole variety of experiences available in the naturally clean waters of the South Coast.
The South Coast of NSW is divided in three places:Sapphire Coast Shoalhaven Eurobodalla
Beautiful places worth visiting in their own right, there are dive shops and cruises available in all three.
Further north, closer to Sydney, places like Jervis Bay and Port Stephens offer great diving experiences. Jervis Bay teems with life, it is not rare to see fur seals, grey nurse sharks, wobbegongs and weedy sea dragons. Or dolphins, humpbacks, mantas, even killer whales, all in a single day’s diving.
Further offshore, is Lord Howe Island, known around the world for its pristine diving conditions and unique marine life. The islands of Lord Howe are a World Heritage Site, its shores and waters are a protected NSW Marine Park.
Those wishing to learn, there are a number of diving schools along the coast as well as Sydney, from beginner to advanced courses are available.
In Darwin, as a result of the bombing of ships in WW2 by the Japanese, there are numerous shipwrecks to dive. Although visibility is usually limited, there are plenty of underwater activities to keep one entertained. There are two reefs to explore, one near the main shipping channel of the harbour and the other at Weed Reef, so named because of the beds of seaweed.
The Arafura Sea has beautiful reefs to dive, the waters are warm year round. Nhulunbuy has the Gove Peninsula which offers excellent diving in the usually clear waters, in the many bays and on the reefs.
Offshore islands provide more, Bremer Island has reefs made from tropical corals, as do the Wessell Islands, the English Company Islands, and Bromby Island, teems with fish. The Vernon Islands, nearer to Darwin, are also known for its unique diving experiences.
Queensland, most notably, has the Great Barrier Reef, more than 2,000 kilometres of it, complete with island destinations and coral cays filled with multi-coloured fish and other marine life.
Many of the larger islands have resorts complete with pro dive shops that can take you on guided dives with experienced trainers, or have all the equipment you would need for those more experienced.
Onshore, places along the east coast offer diving charters and cruise experiences of the reef from many of the fishing towns and villages along the way.
South Australia has the Neptune Islands where you can go shark cage diving.
Tasmania has numerous wrecks to dive, because of the storms that have raged the Southern Ocean over the last 200 years. Shipwrecks at the Betsey Island Ships’ Graveyard
The surrounding waters are some of the most remote places to dive in the world, there are deep underwater caverns, rocky reefs, sponge beds and forests of kelp. In the marine parks, there are unique species found nowhere else.
The east coast of Tasmania is a divers paradise with excellent places for deep water dives. These include Paradise Reef and the Golden Bommies. In the south east, there is the Tinderbox Marine Reserve as well as Ninepin Point Marine Reserve, known for its tannin waters showing a golden colour from the sunlight, great for photographing the local sealife. Magic Garden, located in the protected Governors Island Marine Reserve has large rock lobsters, swarms of fish and amazing sponge gardens.
The islands off Tasmania offer good diving as well, in pristine waters. Maria Island has incredible offshore bio-diversity, Flinders Island has the Chalky Island Caves, reefs teeming with fish, rock lobsters and shipwrecks.
Port Phillip Bay is known to have more than 60 shipwrecks from the 1800s, as well as a total of four submarines sunk during WW1. At Port Phillip Heads, there are wall dives that reach depths of more than 90 metres.
The Great Ocean Road has numerous places to dive along its length, the road hugs the south east coast of Victoria for some 300 kms.
In the north east of Victoria, the Gippsland region also enjoys many diving opportunities. A number of marine parks are located here, with a host of sites suitable for exploring the ocean life here.
Western Australia has a mind boggling 12,000 kilometres of coastline to explore for divers. There are numerous wrecks along the coastline, as European ships sailed here from south Africa to then follow the coastline up to Asia and the rich spicelands, not least of which is the Batavia (1629: Morning Reef in the Abrolhos Islands, Coral Coast).
One of the premium diving places in Australia, Ningaloo Reef offers diving amongst more than 500 species of fish, with more than 200 types of coral. A marine park, dugongs and whale sharks are common sights.
Australia has some of the best diving destinations in the world. Pristine waters, remote islands and coral atolls, bounteous marine life and a very long shoreline offer countless opportunities for the dive of a lifetime. Other sports:
About the World Heritage Sites in Australia: World Heritage Sites of Australia.
Main Photo: Diving Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Delaware North Companies
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