Divers in Australia are fortunate to have diverse diving environments close to home. The local marine life includes many bucket list animals such as cuttlefish, sharks, sea dragons and penguins. Read on to learn about the best local dive spots in and around Australia’s major cities, and what you can do to support ocean health as the country starts to re-open.
#1 Local dive sites are better than ever.
With fewer people and boats in the water, marine life is thriving.
#2 Divers are in a unique position to preserve the ecological gains made during the COVID-19 crisis.
Your local dive shop may offer opportunities to assist with coral restoration, Crown-of-Thorns eradication and/or reef monitoring.
#3 Every airfill, gear hire and guided dive helps your local PADI® Dive Centre owner restore the health of their business.
Many local dive shop owners were already struggling after the bush fires and then COVID-19 hit. Please show your support!
#4 May to October is the ideal time to see whales, giant cuttlefish and whale sharks.
Where to Dive Locally in Australia
Logbooks are the new passports! While non-divers wait for international travel to resume, divers can don their gear and slip into another world whenever they choose. Use the guide below to plan a diving day trip and discover the best dive sites near you.
Newcastle is home to the world-famous Swansea Bridge Dive. Located near Lake Macquarie, Australia’s largest saltwater lake, you’ll have the chance to spot seahorses, octopuses, cuttlefish and even the odd kingfish or salmon. Drift diving is available for divers with proper training.
If you love shooting macro, Fly Point in Halifax Park Aquatic Reserve (Nelson Bay, NSW) is a must-dive. When you dive is important, so be sure to consult a local dive centre regarding tides.
Advanced divers can take a day trip to South West Rocks and visit the top-ranked Fish Rock dive site. Sharks, caverns and massive schools await; don’t forget your camera.
Sydneysiders have plenty of great diving close to home. Bare Island is a great place to see weedy sea dragons at and Port Jackson sharks. Shelly Beach, Ship Rock and Oak Park round out the list of top diving spots near the Harbour City.
Greater Sydney is also home to the rare “Donut” Nembrotha nudibranch. Learn more about the unique marine life you can spot whilst diving Australia’s east coast.
Some of the best shore diving sites in Australia are a short drive from Melbourne (and only 30 minutes from each other). Hire some tanks, grab a buddy and set a course for the Mornington Peninsula. Here’s where to dive:
Flinders Pier is home to a permanent population of weedy seadragons and Rye Pier is a reliable place to spot seahorses. Rye Pier also has the well-known Octopus’ Garden, Ships Graveyard and is home to spectacular reef walls.
If Rye is a bit crowded, or if macro’s your thing, try nearby Blairgowrie Pier. More than 100 different species of nudibranchs have been found there over the years.
Warrnamnbool also offers excellent shore diving. Top spots include Stingray Bay, Middle Island, Pickering and Thunder Point.
Megafauna, a pink lake and wildflower trails are just a few reasons to explore WA. Whale watching is at its prime July through October – which is also the best time to see little penguins at Rottnest Island and Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.
Point Peron is one of the best dive spots at Shoalwater, offering something for everyone – even snorkelers. There are swim-throughs, bommies and two caves. Be sure to bring a dive flag and a torch.
A bit further south at Busselton Jetty, divers of all levels can experience a colourful world full of macro life, schools of fish, and the occasional dolphin.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in Queensland, you’re never far from world-class diving. From Port Douglas to Cairns, Townsville and Ayr to Airlie Beach, you also have the opportunity to help preserve one of Australia’s greatest assets – The Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Restoration Foundation is currently seeking volunteer divers to plant coral, maintain nurseries and support scientists.
There are a number of dive sites near Brisbane where you can expect to see turtles, rays and sharks. At North Stradbroke Island, Shag Rock offers easy diving for newbies and Manta Ray Bommie offers the chance to see leopard sharks and manta rays (during summer). For those interested in travelling further south, you won’t want to miss out on exploring the Gold Coast’s hidden gem, the Seaway Shore.
Rare marine life and stunning photo opportunities are on offer in South Australia. Divers can explore shallow jetties year-round and spectacular congregations of cuttlefish from about June through July.
Giant Cuttlefish in Whyalla – each winter, giant Australian cuttlefish can be found in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park. It’s the social event of the year – these cephalopods are searching for a mate. Watch romance blossom as they ogle each other through “W-shaped” pupils and toggle through different skin colours and textures.
Some of the best diving near Adelaide is on the St. Vincent Gulf. Rapid Bay Jetty is closer to the city and a good place to spot leafy sea dragons, but Edithburgh Jetty has more diverse marine life including sponges, soft corals, macro life, tasseled anglerfish, pyjama squid and of course leafy sea dragons.