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Liveaboard Diving in Mermaid Reef
What To Expect On A Mermaid Reef Liveaboard
Diving Mermaid Reef on a liveaboard will take divers out to Rowley Shoals in Western Australia. Mermaid Reef itself forms one of the three coral atolls known as the Rowley Shoals. Located around 260 kilometres from the coastal town of Broome in North Western Australia, makes it one of the most rarely visited underwater havens. It's only accessible via Australian liveaboard boat, and even these are limited to a few months a year (normally September through till December).
Mermaid Reef is on Australia's Commonwealth Heritage List and is part of Mermaid Reef Marine National Nature Reserve, which helps to protect the wonderful array of unspoilt coral and marine life found here.
Diving at this remote spot, you'll be privileged to be one of very few divers to experience what this part of the Indian Ocean has to offer - only a few hundred people manage to come here each year!
Mermaid Reef is situated to the north east of the Rowley Shoals, rising from a depth of over 400 metres and featuring a stunning turquoise lagoon surrounded by coral. The clear waters will enable you to view the diverse range of life here, including high numbers of large marine animals.
Mermaid Reef Underwater
The walls, corals and lagoon give this site a spectacular landscape, home to a dazzling variety of residents. In the outer sections it's very possible for divers to see Sailfish and Humpback Whales, both of which can be viewed effortlessly gliding through the deep blue.
Amongst the full plethora of tropical corals, a particular highlight are the giant Gorgonian fans, which come in a spectacular array of different colours and shapes, especially when the light falls on them from various angles. Swimming amongst these you'll find large schools of small reef fish, but also high numbers of the big stuff - including the famous Potato Cod, Green Turtles, Dog Tooth Tuna and several sharks.
Diving at Mermaid Reef is memorable at any time, but it is well known for strong tidal flow, resulting in some exhilarating drift dives from outside of the atoll into the lagoon. The currents also show off the softer corals at their best, as they sway and surge together as one.
Dive Sites At Mermaid Reef
Your liveaboard cruise will likely spend a good couple of days at Mermaid Reef, enabling you to jump in at the following superb sites:
Vee in the Wall and Odyssey Alley are both on the outer sections of the atoll, allowing divers a chance to view the life on the edge of the reef as well as gazing out into the deeper ocean to catch a glimpse of the likes of graceful Sailfish and massive Humpbacks.
You will then have the opportunity to dive at one of the world's best and most famous sites - Northern Wall, an impressive 80 metres deep and home to some huge fans, as well as Turtles and Tuna. Moving on, there's some great photo opportunities at Cod Hole, where you can get up and close and personal with the huge but friendly Potato Cod.
Top Tips For Divers
There's a variety of dive sites at Mermaid Reef, with some requiring more experience than others. Sometimes there'll be a minimum of 20 logged dives required (please check this first), and each diver will need to bring their certification and logbook as proof of experience. If you don't have your own equipment, it's best to rent from one of the many centres in Broome, as generally liveaboards to Mermaid Reef will only carry weights and tanks for their guests.
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 always make sure you have suitable travel insurance before travelling!
Getting To The Mermaid Reef
You really only can reach Mermaid Reef on a Australian liveaboard trip bound for the Rowley Shoals. Liveaboard.com features Odyssey liveaboard in Western Australia, which runs fabulous cruises during the season, departing from Broome. Broome is situated in the north of West Australia, and has a small but busy local airport. Most visitors from overseas find it easiest to fly into Perth, the state capital, from abroad, where there are several daily domestic flights to take you to Broome.