Diving in Australia

Scuba diving on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is on the bucket list of every diver. From Osprey Reef to the SS Yongala wreck, it is covered in colourful corals and sea-life. Dolphins, porpoises and whales regularly inhabit the area. Alternatively, head west to Rowley Shoals or south for great white shark cage diving.

Scuba diving in Australia is a must for many scuba divers, and when anyone considers Australia as their next holiday destination, they know the underwater world will not disappoint. With a coastline of over 25,000 kilometres, this incredible continent offers some of the best diving locations in the world.

Australia's diving incites many people’s dream to dive Queensland's Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest and healthiest coral reef system. Diving the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Queensland is deservedly on many people's bucket list, showcasing countless stunning reefs supporting a plethora of marine life and hard and soft corals. 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. With such a large expanse, the reef offers simply the best of Australia scuba diving.

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip, however Australia's diving locations aren't limited to this corner of the country. Many divers head to the opposite coast in Western Australia, to visit dive spots such as the Rowley Shoals and Southern Australia for great white shark cage diving.

Things to know about Australia diving:

Why Should I Go Diving in Australia?

Well, there's the Great Barrier Reef for one; an awesome reef system filled with gorgeous corals and diverse marine life. Then there's the wrecks, sharks, and dolphins. The temperature is considered comfortable all year round.

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What's Australia's Underwater Life like?

Australian diving can 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. The list goes on and on, from dwarf minke whales, sea turtles, manta rays, sharks, carpet sharks, sea snakes, cuttlefish, bumphead parrotfish, leopard moray eels, potato cod and macro life. You may even be able to partake in minke whale monitoring!

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What are the Best Dive Sites In Australia?

Famous dive areas like the Great Barrier Reef on Australia’s east coast, all the way around to pristine dive spots off Western Australia and unique dive experiences off Southern Australia, encompass immense diving opportunities around this large continent.

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 is one of the best places to go diving in Australia if you want to gawk at a wide diversity of vibrant marine life. Harbouring over 1,500 species of reef fish, including Clownfish, Fusiliers, Butterfly Fish, Angelfish, Trout and Batfish, all swimming amongst a backdrop of stunningly colourful hard and soft corals. It is also a paradise for for dolphins, whales and porpoises, including humpback whales, minke whales and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, a World Heritage Site, 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.

Western Australia is fast becoming a top dive destination and is arguably as spectacular as that on the East Coast, and may interest those divers wanting to avoid the crowds. Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s longest fringing reef, home to to 200 species of hard coral, 50 soft coral and over 500 species of fish. Whale shark sightings between April and June are extremely likely and is one of the major attractions for diving in Western Australia. Dive sites such as Clerke Reef and Mermaid Reef in the Rowley Shoals are only accessible via liveaboards. From Perth you can easily explore the beautiful dive sites off Rottnest Island or visit spectacular wrecks, such as the HMAS Swan.

South Australia attracts divers from all over for the unique cage diving experience with Great White Sharks around the Neptune Islands. (May-October is the main viewing season). Seals, Sea Lions and Leafy Sea Dragons are also amongst the marine life of the South popular with divers. The Leafy Sea dragon, from the same family as the Sea Horse, is the marine emblem of South Australia and a protected species which can only be found in South Australia and pieces of Western Australia and Victoria. South Australia's bio diverse temperate waters offer amazing shore dive opportunities under the many jetties in and around Adelaide, as well as some stunning wreck dives.

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What's the Best Time to Dive in Australia?

Diving in Australia is great all year round, with water temperatures ranging from 24°C in the winter (July/August) to 30°C in summer (December/February). Cyclone season is from November through April, mostly affecting the northern states. Minke and Humpback whales can be seen between June to August, whereas the summer months offer the best visibility and warmest waters to take advantage of the array of life on the reef.

Great Barrier Reef

The average water temperature per month in the Great Barrier Reef
28°C 29°C 28°C 27°C 26°C 25°C 24°C 24°C 24°C 25°C 26°C 28°C
82°F 84°F 82°F 81°F 79°F 77°F 75°F 75°F 75°F 77°F 79°F 82°F

Western Australia

The best time for a dive trip to Rowley Shoals in Western Australia is between September and December via liveaboard.

The average water temperature per month around Mermaid Reef (Rowley Shoals) over 2017-2018 (source: aodn.org.au)
30.1°C 29.6°C 30.0°C 30.5°C 28.6°C 26.7°C 25.8°C 24.6°C 25.7°C 26.8°C 28.8°C 30.1°C
86.2°F 85.3°F 86.0°F 86.9°F 83.5°F 80.1°F 78.4°F 76.3°F 78.3°F 80.2°F 83.8°F 86.2°F

Southern Australia

For diving with great white sharks, head to Southern Australia between the months of May to February.

Maximum and minimum monthly water temperatures in Port Lincoln (near Neptune Islands, Southern Australia) (source: seatemperature.org)
min °C 16.5 17.5 17.2 17.6 16.6 15.9 15.5 14.7 14.2 14.5 15.3 16.1
max °C 21.4 20.9 20.4 19.4 19.0 17.8 16.8 16.6 16.5 16.8 18.6 20.2
min °F 63.6 64.9 64.2 64.4 62.8 61.3 60.4 59.2 58.4 59.0 60.8 62.6
max °F 68.5 68.3 67.4 66.2 65.2 63.2 61.7 61.1 60.7 61.3 64.1 66.7

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How do I get to Australia?

There are many international airports in Australia so depending on your chosen dive trip you can fly into either Adelaide, Cairns or even Perth. Australian liveaboards for the Great Barrier Reef depart and return to the port of Cairns in Queensland. In the unlikely event you are unable to fly directly to Cairns, there there are domestic flights to smaller regional airports, serviced by many carriers. On the West Coast Broome is the main port of departure. Broome can be reached via domestic flight from Perth International Airport or from a few select international destinations. Make sure to book well in advance for your scuba diving trip in Australia.

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