We always enjoy chatting to people about different dive sites, and discussing our favourite local dive sites. We’re creating a never-ending bucket list of places we want to dive! In 2011 Ron and I had the pleasure of driving the 20.000 kilometres around Australia in a campervan over a timespan of a couple of months. We packed all our dive gear and a couple of tanks and did as many dives as we could on the way! We managed to do a couple of dives in every mainland state (Tasmania is still on the bucket list).
All these chats talking about dive sites inspired us to write down our top 10 dive sites in Australia. It was hard to reduce it to only 10 because Australia is blessed with so many amazing and breathtaking scuba diving locations and we’re sure we’ve missed a few incredible sites, but this is part 1 of our personal top 10 Australian dive sites (in no particular order). If you have any questions about the sites or other sites in Australia please don’t hesitate to contact us.
1) Ningaloo Reef (WA)
We have done lots of tropical diving from the Caribbean to Indonesia and from the Red Sea to the South China Sea, but the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia just amazed me with its pristine condition. I guess the fact that it’s relatively hard to travel there and it’s not as well-known as the Great Barrier Reef for example, contributes to this. We did most of our shore dives from Coral Bay. You’re allowed to shore dive everywhere (as long as you bring your own gear, as the local dive site won’t simply rent you a set of gear) except for a small section which is protected for a reef shark nursing ground. We hired a kayak on the beach and paddled out to one of the mooring spots on the reef, which only took us about 10-15 mins. Here we would tie the kayak to the mooring and go on our dives. The owner of the kayak hire is very knowledgeable of what spots are best to go to depending on the weather conditions. He pointed Asho’s Gap out to us, which had massive schools of fish and a lot of sharks on it! We saw White-tip Reef sharks, Black-tip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Leopard Sharks, lots of turtles (sometimes more than 10 on a single dive!), eels, groupers, different rays and heaps of macro life. And the corals were in amazing condition – a lot better than we have seen at a lot of other places, including the Great Barrier Reef and parts of Asia. Even snorkelling straight from the beach we encountered some reef sharks and turtles! This really tells you in what great condition the reef is! Read more at the Australia’s Coral Coast page!
2) Yongala (QLD)
The Yongala is a 100+ year old massive shipwreck in Queensland. You can dive it from Ayr and from Townsville. We chose to dive it from Ayr since this significantly reduces the travel time on the boat. We dived with Yongala Dive and can highly recommend them. They also provide accommodation if you need it. The shipwreck itself is huge, and because it’s been in the middle of nowhere for such a long time, it has attracted all sorts of spectacular marine life. Because the marine life actually lives there and stays there (most of the time), everything tends to be much bigger than what we were used to! We saw MASSIVE marbled rays (one of the pictures on the wall in the shop was taken here), lots of sea snakes, a grouper that’s called “V Dub” because it’s the size of a Volkswagen, and much more. If you’re lucky you can also see some really rare/cool marine life at this dive site as wel. The ship itself is obviously also really cool to dive, but you’re not allowed to penetrate it anymore. Discover this amazing wreck at Yongala Dive.
3) South West Rocks (NSW)
South West Rocks is a charming little fisherman’s village about a 5 hours’ drive above Sydney. Their main dive site, Fish Rock, is home to the only submerged cave in Australia in which you are allowed to dive without a cave diving license, and it also houses a huge school of Grey Nurse Sharks. Because temperate and tropical waters meet at this point you get to see the marine life of both worlds. Amazing! We were lucky enough to see a sun fish here and more than 20 grey nurse sharks, who are just swinging around, right next to us, and at least that same amount of wobbegong sharks. We dived with South West Rocks Dive Centre, who were amazing, and so was their accommodation. Meet the South West Rocks Dive team!
4) Edithburgh (SA)
We just love diving our own local spot on the Yorke Peninsula; Edithurgh Jetty. It’s such a great site for spotting rare critters (pyjama squid, dumpling squid, frog fish, angler fish including the tassled anglerfish, seahorses, pipefish, nudibranchs, blue ring octopus and so much more). It’s most famous for its macro life, but the occasional dolphin or sea lion is spotted here as well, although you have to be lucky to see those. Another reason why we love diving here is because we mostly dive it on one of our dive shop’s local weekends away, so we get to spend a weekend with keen divers, talking about diving and looking at each other’s photographs of the cool things everyone has spotted while enjoying a nice glass of local South Australian wine. Please don’t hesitate to contact us about diving at Edithburgh or our custom SA diving safaris.
5) Camp Cove (NSW)
Being PADI instructors, we worked at different locations around the world, and we had the pleasure of working and teaching diving in Sydney for about a year. Our local “go to spot” was Camp Cove in Watsons Bay as it’s the perfect training site (shallow and protected). Camp Cove has an easy, sandy entrance (and a nice kiosk that sells ice-creams during summer!). Although many Sydney divers think of Camp Cove as “just a training site”, we always LOVED diving there. There are 3 different spots where you can enter the water, and lots of local creatures to pay a visit to! A few of the regular locals: blue groupers, octopus, cuttlefish, squid, seahorses, pipefish, moray eels, port jackson and wobbegong sharks, different types of rays and we even saw turtles on rare occasions. If you happen to dive the middle reef, keep your eyes open for cool stuff. Boats moor on the middle reef regularly (so also pay attention safety wise, we usually brought a dive flag or send up a SMB) and they don’t only drop empty champagne bottles. You can find sunnies and other lost items quite often! If you can identify the owner from an item (like a lost wallet), it’s always a good idea to drop it in to the police, of course. Contact Pro Dive Coogee if you want to dive Camp Cove and ask for Amber or Tony, as they are the dive shops’ pro’s in diving Camp Cove and will find all the good stuff!
This was the first part of our top 10 dive sites – part 2 will follow next week! I’m sure there are heaps of sites that we did not mention (yet) and that should really be in anyone’s top 10. We may have not dived it yet, or we may have dived it on a bad day? Please don’t hesitate to let us know about your favourite(s), as we’re always looking for more inspiration and more dive sites to add to our (ever-growing) bucket list!