Diving in Australia is literally immersing yourself in an underwater paradise.
Liveaboard diving in Australia is a must for many divers', and when anyone considers Australia as their next holiday destination, it's impossible to overlook what is on offer underwater. With a coastline of over 25 000 kilometres, much of it in tropical and sub tropical waters, the 'lucky country' is blessed with outstanding diving, guaranteed to please all levels from a novice up to the most experienced.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Queensland is deservedly on many people's bucket list, with countless stunning reefs to explore from the many dive tours available from Cairns and the surrounding area. The best way to truly appreciate the World's largest reef system, is to set sail on one of many Cairns based liveaboards, which will propel you to areas of the outer reef, allowing you to avoid the sometimes crowded inner reef, and view beautiful unspoilt coral and a wide variety of stunning marine life. Dive cruises from Cairns will also take you to parts of the GBR situated in the aptly named Coral Sea, where the visibility (on average well over 40 metres) and diversity is simply breathtaking. Then there is the wreck of the SS Yongala, widely recognised as one of the World's best dive sites, combining history with marine life to an unparalleled level.
The main draw is of course the GBR, however Australian diving and indeed liveaboard diving, is not limited to this corner of the country. Many divers head to the opposite coast in Western Australia, where the diving opportunities are again almost endless. Liveaboards here make it possible to dive the less well known and remote areas of Mermaid and Clerke Reefs in the Rowley Shoals, allowing access to some of the most pristine and thrilling marine parks in the country.
7 liveaboards in Australia
Hop aboard the spacious 24m custom built MV Odyssey for your liveaboard trip to Rowley Shoals, Australia. Each cabin features individually controlled air conditioning, storage units and bar fridges.
The exceptionally smooth, 30m Spoilsport features a twin hull design to improve stability while sailing to the Coral Sea, Australia. Custom built, guests have access to nitrox and camera facilities.
- Free WiFi
Explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef upon one of the most coveted liveaboard, the 37m MV Spirit of Freedom. All 11 cabins feature an en-suite, air conditioning, storage and housekeeping services.Spirit of Freedom
Liveaboard Dive Trips in Australia
Liveaboard.com offers a wide variety of vessels in Australia, from modern purpose built dive boats to sleek, fast catamarans. Each boat has it's own unique feel, ranging from 24m to 37m, able to host 20-48 guests. They all include A/C. and electricity, and several of our boats feature free internet, but please do check this prior to booking.
Itineraries range from 3 day/2 night trips to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, to the all encompassing 8 day/7 night tours which will sail you through much of what Queensland has to offer. Some itineraries even include a return scenic flight, allowing you to witness the route you have taken from the air.
Tours start in the early morning of the first day, and most operators offer a complimentary pick up from your accommodation. In order to ensure maximum safety and comfort, the first dive is often a 'check' dive, enabling the crew to establish the group and individuals diving level, and from there tailor the trip to cater for everyone's needs. Don't worry though, even this first dive will be on a beautiful and unspoilt reef, giving you a taster of what to expect in the following few days! Diving from an Australian liveaboard will introduce you to the vast biodiversity not found near shore, and regularly includes sightings of families of Potato Cod, Grey and Silver Tip Whaler Sharks, Hammerheads, Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, and Maori Wrasse, along with a stunning array of hard and soft corals. Depending on your choice of dive cruise, you may even be able to partake in Minke Whale monitoring!
Every effort is made to accommodate individual requests and often itineraries can be adapted to include extra sites - although as always the crew will adhere to strict safety standards, and so each trip will depend on weather conditions and diver experience.
Dive Sites And Areas of Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the World's largest coral reef system and the largest living organism, stretching for 2300km along the coast of Queensland. It consists of over 2900 reefs and 900 islands, including the stunning sites of Osprey Reef, Ribbon Reef, Milln Reef, Flynn Reef, Cod Hole, Lizard Island, Bougainville Reef, North Horn and the SS Yongala wreck. Most of these locations are only accessible via a liveaboard tour, departing from the port of Cairns.
Osprey Reef is in the Coral Sea section of the GBR, and accessible via liveaboard from Cairns. Famous for it's 40m+ visibility, the reef features many small caverns and swim throughs, and almost guaranteed sitings of several shark species at North Horn.
Ribbon Reef is actually a 175km line of 10 individual reefs lying to the north of Cairns, which are quite isolated and so only reachable via a few liveaboards. These reefs offer sheltered warm waters, and due to their remoteness are in pristine condition.
Milln Reef is located around 60km offshore from Cairns, and includes 3 large coral pillars known as the three sisters. The area is great for both snorkelling and diving, and where possible your crew may arrange a night dive for you, where you'll likely see sleeping turtles and crabs.
Flynn Reef offers diving for all levels of diver, and is best known for it's coral garden - one of Australia's finest, featuring a stunning array of hard and soft coral.
Cod Hole allows you to get close to the huge but friendly and docile Potato Cod which have a habit of posing for the camera! Other attractions here include Maori Wrasse and Moray Eels. This dive site is located at the very north of the Ribbon Reefs, and will often form part of a Ribbon Reef liveaboard.
Lizard Island is an island of unspoilt national park and the most northerly resort on the GBR. Often our liveaboards will involve a scenic reef flight either from Cairns at the start, or back to Cairns from Lizard Island.
Western Australia diving is is arguably as spectacular as that on the East Coast, and may interest those divers interested in a less visited area of the planet. To access the truly unspoilt Clerke Reef and Mermaid Reef in the Rowley Shoals, liveaboards leave from the town of Broome in the North West of the state.
Rowley Shoals are a series of 3 coral shelf atolls 250km west of Broome, and attracts divers from all over due to their uniqueness. Along with their stunning coral gardens, there are over 650 species of fish, many of which are not found near the shore, and so only possible to be viewed from the luxury of a liveaboard boat.
When To Go
Diving on the GBR is great all year round, with water temperatures ranging from 24c in the winter (July/August) to 30c in summer (December/January). Minke and Humpback whales can be seen between June and November, whereas the summer months offer the best visibility and warmest waters to take advantage of the array of life on the reef.
The best time to visit the Rowley Shoals in Western Australia is between September and December, and because diving via liveaboard is the only way to explore these pristine reefs, early booking is advised.
Tips For Travellers
English is the native language in Australia, although many liveaboard operators have crew who are capable of communicating in many common languages. Local currency is the Australian Dollar, and most major international credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs readily available (although not on board!)
Electricity is supplied via 3 pronged sockets, of 230 volts (50Hz) - make sure you acquire the correct adaptor!
Most liveaboards can rent full equipment, but you will be required to bring your certification and log book as part of the safety protocol.
How To Get There And Ports Of Departure
The vast majority of liveaboards to the GBR and Coral Sea, depart from and return to Cairns. Conveniently, Cairns has an international airport which is serviced by many carriers, offering direct flights to a huge number of international destinations. In the unlikely event you are unable to fly directly to Cairns, there are regular daily domestic flights from the well known hubs of Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.
On the West Coast Broome is the main port for liveaboard trips to the Rowley Shoals and associated reefs. Due to it's remoteness, direct international flights are less common. It does have an international airport serving a handful of destinations, but it is more likely that you will fly into the state capital of Perth, where you can easily catch a connecting flight to Broome.
Cairns and Broome are both holiday destinations in their own right, each offering world class hotels and resorts. From Cairns, there is easy access to the stunning tropical Daintree rainforest and waterfalls in the Atherton Tablelands (Peter Andre filmed his famous 'Mysterious Girl' video here!).
Broome is on the edge of the world famous Kimberley region, one of the most remote and spectacular areas in the world.
Australia diving liveaboards cater for all types of traveller, from the budget conscious through to the luxurious, with prices ranging from around US$150-300 per person, per day/night. Please check with your chosen operator for any extra charges, as some areas of Australia require marine park fees, reef taxes, port fees, a fuel levy, and an environmental management charge.
Australia requires most international visitors to have a passport with 6 months validity, and also a valid visa. Please visit https://www.border.gov.au to find out how to obtain the correct visa.
As always, appropriate travel insurance should be purchased prior to travelling.
Australia Diving Reviews
We really enjoyed all the areas, occasionally a little murky, but the underwater creatures made up for it.Diving Australia in November on the ScubaPro I
GREAT. The easiest place t dive,Diving Australia in November on the ScubaPro III
It was amazing. The Reef ecology talk offered on board added so much value to our diving experience as we were able to identify the different species that we saw at the dive sites.Diving Australia in November on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
I will recommend it to all my diving friends.Diving Australia in November on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
The diving was fun, the diving company was very good with supplying a good product and good value for the money. Dive sites were interesting and colourful. Marine life was abundant and nice to see. It is a destination that every diver should experience at least once. I will be returning.Diving Australia in November on the ScubaPro I
The trip was a dream, a gift to myself for my 60th birthday. Worth every minute of the very long trip to get there. There were several things I would have researched to be better prepared. The conversion of feet to meters and the relationship if "bars" to PSI. All divers but myself were PADI certified so I would also have researched their hand signals before getting to dive site. These slight differences almost kept me out of the water after a super uncomfortable first dive. Without internet access there was no way to research and none of the crew, including the dive master, could help with this. Another diver stepped forward and we worked it out.Diving Australia in October on the Odyssey
Great experience!Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest
Diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia was on our bucket list and we definitely would come back again to dive in Australia.Diving Australia in January on the Ocean Quest
Some big fish, a few reef sharks, and a few green turtles. Arthur was excellent for my advanced course.Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest
Great! I will repeat for sure!Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest
The best diving experience I have ever had. Deep sea divers den made diving in Australia an unforgettable experience.Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest
very nice .......but i'm not doneDiving Australia in September on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Will definitely to it again. Just wish I didn't live so far way.Diving Australia in August on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Fantastic. We will definitely be coming back.Diving Australia in September on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Excellent. Just a shame we are so slow to do anything about climate change that it will be gone in 20 years.Diving Australia in September on the Ocean Quest
We enjoyed our trip and would highly recommend Australian diving.Diving Australia in August on the Spirit of Freedom Liveaboard
Overall I truly enjoyed diving in Australia and would do it again when the opportunity arises.Diving Australia in January on the Ocean Quest
Although Barrier Reef is a natural wonder, the marine life at South West Rocks (northern New South Wales) was equally as breath taking. The Visability and water temp made diving the GBR very enjoyableDiving Australia in August on the Spirit of Freedom Liveaboard
Australia is just beautiful place to dive!!! Breathtaking!!!Diving Australia in August on the ScubaPro II
I liven Australia and this was as good if not better than other dives I have done on Ningaloo and other ribbon reefs.Diving Australia in August on the ScubaPro II
Amazing. We were very lucky with the weather. The best thing is that we have almost one dive-master per dive only for us.Diving Australia in August on the Spirit of Freedom Liveaboard
Super smooth. It was a little rougher than anticipated going out on the initial boat trip but the sites were worth it.Diving Australia in August on the ScubaPro II
We ll come back in the summer time !Diving Australia in August on the Ocean Quest
Well organised and safe, without being overly burdened with regulation, but reliant on the divers training to stay within safe dive limits.Diving Australia in August on the ScubaPro I
An excellent overall experience. Professionalism with a wonderful attitude and enthusiasm from the Dive teams combined with the locations made the whole experience an unforgettable one.Diving Australia in July on the ScubaPro III
Very good. Just enough to make me want to come back and explore more of what Australia has to offer.Diving Australia in June on the ScubaPro I
I'm coming back! I learned to look for so many other living things!Diving Australia in July on the Ocean Quest
I really enjoyed the reef. Less experienced guests were looked after well by the divemasters and the rest of us had a fair amount of independence in self-guided dives.Diving Australia in June on the ScubaPro I
The reefs seemed in very good shape and had plenty of gorgeous fish. Larger life was a little harder to find where we were. But I went for the Minke encounters and that did not disappoint. In fact, the crew said we had the longest and best they'd seen in a long time. The whales would glide by looking at us, getting closer as they felt comfortable. One time, I counted 6 underneath me at the same time. It was amazing!Diving Australia in June on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
We enjoyed the diving in Australia the dive sites where filled with sea life and the size of the reefs was most impressive.Diving Australia in June on the Spirit of Freedom Liveaboard