Australia offers some of the best diving in the world, famous primarily for the amazing Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. This is THE biggest Reef on Earth which stretches over 2000km! It is home to a whole array of amazing biodiversity and here you can spot various species of Sharks, Sea Turtles, Giant Groupers, Whales and Dolphins.
As the Great Barrier Reef is so huge, there are endless places to discover. The most popular is the beautiful city of Cairns where most of the liveaboard trips to the Great Barrier Reef start from.
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Port Douglas, a bit further North, is another great gateway to the Reef with its upmarket accommodation and resorts if that takes your fancy.
You can also start further South in Townsville, famous for one of the best dive sites in the World, the Yongala Wreck! Another option is to explore the Whitsunday Islands and take a liveaboard tour to the Great Barrier Reef.
A less famous but very good diving destination is the Ningaloo Reef on the Australian West Coast where you can swim with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays! The main gateway to this hidden gem is the town of Exmouth. There is a famous dive site in Exmouth called the Navy Pier, featuring astonishing biodiversity.
Most of the dives sites are easy and suitable for Padi Open Water divers but exploring the more remote areas on liveaboard is more suitable for experienced divers.
In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Australia.
Table of contents
Best Dive Review
Where to dive?
The best and main scuba diving destinations in Australia are:
The Best dive sites of Australia are:
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Australia is not particularly special for macro creatures and other critters. It features more of the big fishes, shark action and Whales! However one dive site which does offer an amazing diversity of macro life is at one of the best shore dives in the world in Exmouth, called the Navy Pier, where you can spot Frog fishes, Scorpion fishes and various Nudibranchs.
Australia has some of the best Wreck Diving in the World! There are many wrecks worth exploring throughout the country. The Yongala Wreck offers quite possibly some of the best diving in Australia! Moreover, the Australian Navy have scuttled its former battle ships to create artificial reef and diveable Wrecks! The most famous ones are:
How to dive Australia?
The Great Barrier Reef is quite far away from the mainland. You can dive on a day trip to the closest part of the Reef from Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville or from the Whitsunday Islands. Diving there is good but not as spectacular as if you go a little further out from the coast.
If you want to dive the best of the Great Barrier Reef, you will have to take a liveaboard tour for at least 3 to 4 days or longer if you want to dive the excellent Osprey Reef.
I usually use this website to book in advance my Liveaboards in Australia as they usually have the lowest rates I find. I like it because they have an easy booking system.
You will have the chance to visit some of the best dive sites of Australia such as Cod Hole and North Horn where you can see all the sharks of the Great Barrier Reef!
If you dive on the Ningaloo Reef, the dive sites are close to the shore so day trips are entirely possible. It is also possible to go on a liveaboard cruise to explore more remote parts of the Ningaloo Reef.
- In Australia, it is essential that you have a Recreational Scuba Diving Medical Certificate before starting your Padi Open Water course and sometimes even for Liveaboards. Many doctors especially in Cairns can do that for you very quickly.
- Don’t forget your certification card! Dive operators will ask for it.
Where to stay?
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Best time to dive in Australia
It is possible to dive all year round in Queensland and in most part of Australia. On the Southern part, the bad weather can sometimes prevent any diving at all at certain times between May to October. The hot season runs roughly from November to April and the Warm to Cold season runs from November to April.
If you want detailed information about the diving seasons, the Whale Sharks, Minke and the Humpback Whales season and the Coral Spawning, please visit the specific destination pages.
Scuba Diving conditions
Australia is such a huge country that it makes it hard to give accurate overall information about the conditions since it changes drastically from one destination to the other. A general idea of conditions has been included below, but go to the dedicated destination pages for more specific information on the dive spot you plan on visiting.
The conditions are mostly very good all year round on the Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef.
Air temperature: 20°C to 35°C depending on the location and the season.
Average Water temperature: ranges from 20°C to 31°C year round. In the South, during Winter, the water can get chilly!
Average Visibility: You can expect 15 to 20 meters on the local dive sites and up to 50 meters if you go on the offshore dive sites.
Current: Depends a lot on tide and location, ranges from none to very strong.
Depth: From 5m to 40m. The coral reefs are shallow and most of the dive sites are between 10 to 20 meters deep.
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Snorkelling in Australia
We have some great news for snorkellers – Australia has terrific snorkelling possibilities! The most popular place is in Queensland where you can go on a snorkelling tour of the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays Islands also have great snorkelling opportunities. Please visit the specific dive site pages for more information.
Diving SafetyIf you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Australia, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this travel insurance as they offer worldwide coverage as they offer worldwide coverage and cover scuba diving up to 50 metres deep, as well as snorkelling and many more water activities.
Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Australia Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.
Diving Reviews for this region
Excellent Diving and liveaboard destination. Amazing spot for Big fishes, Sharks, superb coral and underwater photography. Most popular place in the World to learn scuba diving in Cairns. One of the best dive sites in the World with the Yongala Wreck!