Liveaboard Diving in Rowley Shoals

What To Expect On A Rowley Shoals Liveaboard

Liveaboards to Rowley Shoals take divers to one of the few remaining unspoiled places to dive. Its isolated position, around 300 kilometers from the nearest mainland, off the coast of North Western Australia, means that diving here will introduce you to some of the most pristine tropical waters and untouched marine life you will likely encounter. Only a few hundred people have the privilege of visiting this remote spot each year, ensuring that sites are quiet, corals are healthy, and animals are in abundance.

The best and only realistic way to dive into the Rowley Shoals is by boarding an Australian liveaboard tour from Broome. Leaving Broome, sailing to the Shoals takes approximately a day, from where each liveaboard tour will cruise through the very best of what is on offer here, including Mermaid Reef and Clerke Reef. The dive area is on the edge of the widest continental shelf on the planet. It consists of three huge coral atolls rising from the deep and taking up an area of approximately 90 square kilometers each. The underwater conditions are exceptional, with visibility commonly reaching 60 meters and the tropical waters hovering in the pleasant late 20s.

Rowley Shoals Underwater

The Shoals' position is a major advantage of diving here, as the limited number of visitors has ensured that the marine life can thrive in its natural environment. The liveaboard crew tends to include a large variety in the type of dives and dive sites in the itinerary, with clear lagoons, drift dives, walls, canyons, and caves all often forming part of the agenda.

When diving Rowley shoals, you'll be diving amongst over 200 species of coral, with some of the most spectacular coral gardens imaginable. A night dive from your liveaboard will regularly be offered, during which you can see how the coral landscape and life surrounding it differs interestingly from during daylight.

The reef's residents are undisturbed amongst these atolls, including Coral Trout, Turtles, Maori Wrasse, and Spanish Mackerel. There's a wide variety of sharks to be seen too, such as Whitetips, Blacktips, Silvertips, and the occasional Hammerhead and Tiger shark. Not to be confused with the famous site on the East Coast with the same name, Cod Hole offers a unique dive where the huge but friendly resident Potato Cod will no doubt allow fabulous close-up encounters and photos.

Rowley Shoals is situated in warm tropical waters, affected by strong prevailing currents, giving it a diverse range of underwater life rarely seen.

Dive Sites of Rowley Shoals

The Rowley Shoals have countless breathtaking dive sites, and liveaboard cruises departing from Broome will always ensure you can jump in at as many as possible. Our guests consistently rave about two sites: the atolls of Mermaid Reef and Clerke Reef.

MERMAID REEF offers various individual sites, and you'll likely spend a few days here, allowing you maximum bottom time. There are crystal clear lagoons, cozy caves, and interesting swim-throughs, teaming with small fish and larger predators.

CLERKE REEF is an atoll close to Mermaid Reef, with diving to suit all levels of experience. Again, there's a turquoise lagoon that is sheltered, but there are also some spectacular walls to explore, and when conditions allow, you'll be able to enjoy a lazy drift dive! Crews commonly organize a night dive here, when the large Potato Cod can sometimes be seen.

Top Tips for Divers

Dive sites at the Rowley Shoals are varied and offer something for everyone - from the newly qualified open-water diver to diving professionals. Operators will require you to bring your certification and log book, although commonly, there'll be no minimum logged dives requested. It's often a good idea to bring your equipment where possible (weights and tanks are always available on board), but if not, you'll be able to rent easily from one of the many dive centers in Broome.

English is the native tongue in Australia, but if you check with your operator, it's common for crews to speak various other languages. Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are readily available onshore, with the currency being the Australian Dollar.

Always make sure you have suitable travel insurance before traveling!

Getting To The Rowley Shoals

Being so remote, the only feasible method of getting underwater at the Shoals is via the Australian liveaboard. In North Western Australia, Broome is the most common departure point for liveaboard cruises here and, although isolated, is easily reached via air. It has a small airport that flies to a handful of overseas locations, but it's generally much more practical to fly here from the state capital of Perth in the south, which has connections all over the globe.

Rowley Shoals Diving Reviews

  • 9.4 Superb
  • 2 Verified Reviews
  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Hilma V
  • United States United States

Warm, exceptional visibility. Pristine reef. Abundance of Marine life

Diving Rowley Shoals in October on the Odyssey

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Judy O
  • New Zealand New Zealand

sorry - answered previusly I was happy. The best thing for me was the stunning isolation, 360 degrees of horizon, turquoise waters (water temps 29-30 – most people dived in rash suits, I am cold blooded and even I was plenty warm enough in sharkskin!). The coral was pristine (I guess not often visited), colourful… Fish – plenty of white tipped reef sharks, grey reef sharks, saw some leopard sharks & a hammerhead was spotted. Turtles. Potato cod but the big cod promised at cod hole never eventuated. Schooling Trevally, the hugest Bumphead Parrot fish I have ever seen, coral trout, angel fish… many varieties of clown fish… We also had dolphins swimming at the bow of Odyssey and were lucky enough to see a Mama Humpback whale & her calf up close at Mermaid Atoll (this alone made the trip really!). We had 18 dives in the week long trip.

Diving Rowley Shoals in October on the Odyssey