Port Noarlunga Jetty and Reef is by far South Australia’s most frequented dive site. It’s the instructors’ favourite site for scuba training thanks to the convenient location close to the Adelaide CBD.
There are several entry and exit points at the site, the closest being a beach entry. However, strong waves and the fact it stays shallow for a while when you’re walking in from the beach, makes the two jetty stairs the preferred method of entry for most divers at this site. The reef itself is the best part of this dive (although the jetty itself can be a very good night dive!), so the most popular entry point is the stairs all the way at the end of the jetty.
Be prepared for a bit of a walk when you’re diving this site, especially if you’re jumping in from the last mentioned stairs, as the jetty itself is about 300 metres long and, as parking is limited at the base of the jetty, you’ll usually end up parking in the big car park, which adds an extra 100 metres to the walk.
Once you get to the reef from the jetty, you can go south (left) to follow the underwater trail that is set up here. There are 12 markers on the bottom that display interesting information about the reef and the reef life. You can also head north (right) and follow the reef that way. It’s very easy to navigate, as you simply keep the rocks to one side on the way out and on the other side on the way back in. You can’t miss the jetty on your way back in, so finding back the exit point has never been easier.
On a high tide you can climb over the reef and jump in on the other side. If you’re good on your air you can then dive back to the jetty, either by going through the gap (south) or around the northern end of the reef. The currents that run through the gap can be quite strong and it gets quite deep there as well (~ 20 metres).
The average depth of the dive site is about 5 – 7 metres. If you enter from the first set of stairs, it’s about 3 metres deep and if you enter at the end of the jetty it’s about 6 metres deep. If it’s nice diving weather, there are always fishermen on the jetty as well, so if you are entering from the beach or from the first set of stairs, the safest way of diving is to stay underneath the jetty during your dive. Always have a knife on you and keep an eye out for (loose) fishing lines.
On this dive you will see South Australia’s usual suspects, such as the old wive, silver sweep, moonlighter, zebrafish and common stingrays and if you look closely enough, you will find hermit crabs, nudibranchs (there are at least 7 different species on Port Noarlunga Reef), seahorses, flatworms and pipefish (the sawtooth pipefish hides in the crevices). Not uncommon on the reef are blue devil fish, cuttlefish, wobbegong sharks (mainly on the outside of the reef), port jackson sharks and occasionally a leafy sea dragon. If you’re extremely lucky you can see bigger animals like dolphins and even southern right whales inside the reef!