Liveaboard Diving in Clerke Reef
What To Expect On A Clerke Reef Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Clerke Reef are usually visiting this area as part of a dive itinerary to Rowley Shoals. Situated around 260 kilometres from the Western Australia town of Broome, Clerke Reef forms one third of the Rowley Shoals chain of coral atolls, with some of the clearest water that a diver can imagine, and packed with a range of underwater life rarely seen elsewhere. The reef is named after Captain Clerke who first set eyes on this stunning turquoise speck, way back between 1800 and 1809.
The way to visit this isolated spot in the Indian Ocean is on a liveaboard vessel from Broome, which will sail you through some of the most unspoilt marine reserves in Australian waters.
Clerke Reef has some outstanding diving on the outside of the atoll, and like Mermaid Reef features a shallow lagoon that is great for snorkelling which some divers decide to experience during their surface intervals. There's a vast amount of all different shapes and colours of coral, combined with playful marine life enjoying their well preserved natural habitat.
Clerke Reef Underwater
Rising from a daunting 390 metres, Clerke Reef offers spectacular wall diving on the outer sections, where divers are priveleged to take in much of the 700 fish species and 230 corals on show. There's so much to see, and with visibility often reaching 50 metres you'll be able to view it all perfectly - from Moray Eels hiding between rocks, to sleek Grey Reef Sharks. It's not just the larger stuff that is found here either; there's a wealth of macro life, including tiny shrimps and Nudibranchs with stunning patterns fit to grace any photo. They can sometimes be hard to pick out, however the liveaboard guides here are extremely experienced at knowing where to look!
Dive Sites at Clerke Reef
There are numerous dive sites that liveaboards to Clerke Reef will visit, some of which are oulined below;
Located in the beautiful lagoon at Clerke Reef is the aptly named Aquarium dive site, where the diving is easy, the water calm and warm, and the ecosystem healthy. The crystal clear water springs to life with corals dazzling in greens, yellows, and reds , entertaining large numbers of fish of the same wonderful colours in huge numbers.
Jimmy goes to China is not necessarily a typical name you tend to hear in relation to dive sites - just ask your crew where this originates from - but none the less is a well known area at Clerke Reef, home to large sharks and pelagics, cruising effortlessly along the 40 metre wall that makes up the majority of this site.
A place often used as a first dive on liveaboard trips is the Blue Lagoon, as it is a straight forward dive site and so allows every guest to become accustomed to their equipment, and also means the crew can assess everyone's experience and comfort levels. Maximum depth is 30 metres, although generally you'll stay around 10-12 metres, giving a perfect view of the resident colourful tropical fish surrounding you.
The Rowley Shoals are famous for big tides giving rise to adrenalin filled drift dives. As the name suggests, The Rollercoaster is one of the best places to experience the strength of the current and will push you through the Clerke Reef Channel, witnessing flashing colours and curious animals as you glide past - you'll have to be an expert photographer to snap anything on this dive!
Commonly on the agenda at Clerke Reef is South Park, which is packed full of exciting swim throughs, and often frequented by larger inhabitants such as sharks and pelagic fish. There's the full spectrum of corals on show here also, including sponges, fans and soft species.
Top Tips For Divers
The water at Clerke Reef gives great conditions for diving, and there's something to suit every experience level. Having said that, generally you'll need 20 logged dives (although please check this) and proof of this - your log book and certification. Tanks and weights are onboard, but divers need to rent equipment from Broome, unless you have your own.
The language in Australia is English, and the currency the Australian Dollar. ATMs are easily found onshore, and credit cards widely recognised. Healthcare is top class - but still make sure you have suitable travel insurance before travelling!
Getting To The Clerke Reef
Liveaboard.com features the dive boat Odyssey, offering cruises to Clerke Reef in season. The only way to access this remote spot is via an Australian liveaboard, which will depart from Broome and likely head for the Rowley Shoals area. If you are coming from overseas, it's easiest to fly into Perth, the state capital, and from there catch a connecting domestic flight to Broome - several of these run daily.