The Best Diving Spots In Australia And How To Prepare

When it comes to the natural wonders of the world, there’s just something magical and mysterious about the beauty of the ocean.

Not only does the deep blue sea cover 70 percent of the planet, but it is also home to a rich and diverse ecosystem, which houses an array of colorful and vibrant creatures.

But how can you experience this strange and alien world for yourself? By going diving of course! 

The Best Diving Spots In Australia And How To Prepare

Currently, there are numerous diving spots around the world, where you can easily immerse yourself among the beauties and the tropical oceans.

However, some of the best diving spots can be found in Australia, where the azure waters are known to contain a variety of unique and flamboyant fish. So if you are interested in experiencing all that the ocean has to offer, then Australia is the place for you. 

Now understand that planning a diving trip is not an easy task, as there are various factors that you have to consider.

That is why we have decided to aid you in your diving adventure by compiling a list of the best diving spots in Australia. We have also included some handy information concerning the diving spots and how you can prepare for them, as well as the various risks you may encounter. 

The Best Diving Spots In Australia

To start our guide, we will be taking a detailed look at the best diving spots that Australia has to offer. Each site we have chosen is rich in natural beauty and will provide you with ample opportunities to experience the wonders of the underwater world.

Because Australia is split into six different states, we have organized our entries by location, to make sure that there is no miscommunication or error. 

So let’s take a look at the best diving spots in Australia!


The Great Barrier Reef

When it comes to listing the best diving spots in Australia, it’s always wise to start with the classics. Spanning across 1429 miles of interconnected reefs and islands, the Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world and is home to numerous diving regions. 

The Great Barrier Reef can be easily accessed from either Cairns or Port Douglas and offers a variety of activities and trips that you can partake in. During certain times of the year, the reef is also known to host a variety of majestic creatures, such as nesting sea turtles, dwarf minke whales and a rainbow of colorful fish. 

What You Will See

  • Green Sea Turtles
  • Manta Rays
  • Maori Wrasse
  • Potato Cod
  • Whitetip Reef Sharks
  • Clownfish 
  • Minke Whales

The Southern Great Barrier Reef

If you are the kind of person who thinks the Great Barrier Reef is too crowded and commercial, then you can always journey to the lesser-known Southern Great Barrier Reef, which can be accessed via the coastal city of Bundaberg.

Known for its idyllic islands and distinctive marine creatures, the reef also happens to be the home of more than 20 diving sites. 

Each diving site located on the Southern Great Barrier Reef is abundant in corals and tropical fish, with locations such as Lady Musgrave Island even promising manta rays and several species of shark.

The reef is also situated by a sunken shipwreck, which has already accumulated a diverse selection of aquatic life. 

What You Will See

  • Corals
  • Giant Clams
  • Manta Rays
  • Guitar Sharks
  • Leopard Sharks
  • Sea Turtles
  • Humpback Whales

SS Yongala Wreck

Located 46 feet below the ocean’s surface, the Steam Ship Yongala is a shipwreck that can be accessed from the coast of Townsville, where it has fast become one of Australia’s most exciting diving experiences.

Believed to have sunk in 1911, the SS Yongala was first discovered in 1958 and has since been transformed into a diverse ecosystem brimming with a variety of marine life. 

If you wish to visit the shipwreck, then you can book day trips with a company called Yongala Dive. Not only does the company offer two dives at the historical site, but it also provides snacks on the journey and a barbecue lunch once you return to land.

Considered a rich and unique experience, the diving spot is also known for its abundance of soft corals and olive sea snakes. 

What You Will See

  • Soft Corals
  • Olive Sea Snakes
  • Moray Eels
  • Queensland Groper
  • Marble Ray
  • Hawksbill Turtle
  • Giant Trevally 

Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef

Located just off the coast of Western Australia, Ningaloo Marine Park is considered the country’s second-largest coral reef and has become a popular diving destination for tourists and locals alike.

Home to a variety of beautiful and majestic sea creatures, the reef also provides ample opportunities to swim alongside whale sharks and migrating humpback whales, promising a remarkable experience that you will never forget. 

The Ningaloo Reef is situated in the same area as the famous Navy Pier dive site, which is considered one of the best shore dives in the entire world.

The marine park can also be accessed via daily boat tours, which often depart from Exmouth and are operated by companies such as Dive Ningaloo. For a unique and breathtaking diving experience, Ningaloo is always considered a positive choice. 

What You Will See

  • Corals
  • Whale Sharks
  • Humpback Whales
  • Manta Rays
  • Leatherback Turtles
  • Spinner Dolphins
  • Giant Gropers

Rowley Shoals

If you are the kind of person who prefers to enjoy an exclusive and isolated diving experience, then Rowley Shoals is probably the best destination for you.

Located 186 miles off the coast of Western Australia, Rowley Shoals takes the form of three ring-shaped coral reefs, which are known for their strong tidal flows and heart-stopping drift dives. 

Although this particular diving destination is considered a once in a lifetime experience, the spot itself can prove difficult to reach and is only accessible for a short period of time each year.

If you are interested in visiting the Shoals, then it is recommended that you book your excursion for October, as this is when the reefs are made readily available. For the full experience, you can also book a liveaboard cruise with companies such as Broome. 

What You Will See

  • Corals
  • Tiger Sharks
  • Maori Snapper
  • Red Bass
  • Potato Cod
  • Cuttlefish
  • Sydney Octopus

Christmas Island

Christmas Island is a small and remote settlement that is located far off the coast of Western Australia and is commonly known for its high population of red crabs.

Although many tourists often travel to the island to witness the mass crab migration, the destination is also home to 60 dive sites, as well as some of the clearest waters in the whole world. 

One of the island’s most prominent reefs even features a pinnacle that is perched on the edge of the Java Trench, which is currently considered the deepest part of the Indian Ocean. 

Known for its fringing reefs that drop down 3,200 feet below the ocean’s surface, Christmas Island is also abundant in corals and aquatic life, with the area even attracting migrating whale sharks between November and April.

If you wish to travel to this unique island, then you can book a trip with companies such as Indian Ocean Experience or Wet n Dry Adventures, which are capable of taking you to some of the longest drop-offs in the entire world. 

What You Will See

  • Spinner Dolphins
  • Reef Sharks
  • Eagle Rays
  • Manta Rays
  • Whale Sharks
  • Red Crabs
  • Coconut Crabs

South Australia

Port Lincoln

If you are the kind of person who loves adventure and the feel of adrenaline as it courses through your veins, then chances are cage diving has always been at the top of your bucket list.

Well, in Port Lincoln this particular white knuckle fantasy can be made a reality, as it is the only place in Australia where you can cage dive with great white sharks.

All it takes is a 50-minute flight from Adelaide and you will soon find yourself submerged in the ocean with these vicious and majestic creatures. 

If you are interested in pursuing cage diving, then companies such as Adventure Bay Charters offer the full great white experience, providing you with the opportunity to encounter these silent predators in their natural habitat.

However, if surrounding yourself with ferocious sharks doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, then companies such as Calypso Star Charters also offer the alternative of meeting some friendly sea lions.  

What You Will See

  • Great White Sharks
  • Sea Lions
  • Humpback Dolphins
  • Bottlenose Dolphins
  • Bluefin Tuna
  • Schooling Fish

Fleurieu Peninsula

Many diving destinations found along the South Australian coast are common shore dives, which means they are easily accessible and can provide you with the opportunity to see a leafy seadragon - which is a creature found nowhere else in the world.

Some of the most popular diving destinations where you can spot these weedy animals can be found in the Fleurieu Peninsula, which is situated near the southern regions of Adelaide. 

The Fleurieu Peninsula is home to a variety of diving destinations, from the Rapid Bay jetty to the Aldinga Drop-off. Although all diving sites located within the peninsula vary in depth and size, they all share an abundance of thriving sea life, as well as a selection of vibrant corals and underwater plant life. 

What You Will See

  • Corals
  • Sea Sponges
  • Leafy Seadragons
  • Black Rays
  • Pygmy Leather Jackets
  • Various Dolphins
  • Nudibranchs

New South Wales

Shelly Beach

Considered one of the best and most popular shore dives in the whole of Australia, Shelly Beach is currently located in Manly - one of Sydney’s most beautiful beach suburbs.

Known for its labyrinthine environment of boulders and seagrass, the humble diving destination also contains a rich ecosystem of underwater life, providing you with the opportunity to see giant cuttlefish, blue gropers and even the elusive weedy seadragon. 

If you wish to explore the shallow waters of the local area, then you can enlist the help of companies such as Dive Centre Manly, which promises to take you on an adventurous journey through the vibrancy and beauty of the underwater world.

The location is also situated near Fairy Bower, another popular dive site where you can often see sharks and playful octopuses. 

What You Will See

  • Common Seadragon
  • Weedy Seadragon
  • Giant Cuttlefish
  • Wobbegongs
  • Port Jackson Sharks
  • Blue Gropers
  • Octopuses

Fish Rock Cave

Located within a small and rocky outcrop off the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Fish Rock Cave is a diving destination that is consistently voted as one of the top 10 best diving sites in the entire world.

Featuring an underwater cave that descends 400-feet beneath the ocean’s surface, this particular diving site promises an exciting and eye-catching experience like no other.

Rich In aquatic life, the destination is also the perfect place to witness gropers and lionfish in their natural environment. 

If you are interested in diving at Fish Rock Cave, then you can enlist the help of companies such as South West Rocks Dive Centre to take you to the iconic site.

Apart from lionfish and moray eels, the destination is also rich in larger fish species, such as nurse sharks and stingrays, which you will usually see gliding through a sandy area known locally as ‘the aquarium’. 

So if you want to experience all that mother nature has to offer, an adventure at Fish Rock Cave will satisfy your every need. 

What You Will See

  • Lionfish
  • Moray Eels
  • Blue Gropers
  • Grey Nurse Sharks
  • Stingrays
  • Wobbegongs
  • Reef Sharks

Northern Territory

Veron Island Blue Holes

If you are looking for a truly unique and breathtaking diving experience, then you can travel to Vernon Island in the Northern Territory of Australia, where you will find the little-known Vernon Island Blue Holes.

Unlike most marine sinkholes, these holes are not surrounded by walls of coral but instead by sandy banks, which are only exposed during low tide. The overall effect helps to create an interconnected network of saltwater lagoons, which are abundant in colorful marine creatures. 

From the surface of the water, you may be able to see vibrant bursts of coral or even forests of seaweed that descend into the depths.

These azure lagoons are also densely populated with a rich selection of flamboyant sea life, with species such as angelfish and parrotfish often making an appearance. 

If you wish to journey to these holes, you must first travel to Darwin, where you can enlist the help of companies such as Sea Darwin to take you to the island. 

What You Will See

  • Angelfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Batfish
  • Yellowtail Fusiliers 
  • Golden Trevally 

The Risks of Diving in Australia

Although diving in Australia can be a magical experience, the recreational sport can also come with a few risks, which we have outlined in the list below:

  • Sea Life: We all know that Australia has a reputation when it comes to its deadly or venomous animals, and this can sometimes be a problem when you want to immerse yourself in the country’s sea life.

    Not only is Australia home to 180 species of shark, but its waters are also densely populated by poisonous snakes, fish and octopuses.

    And although the chances of encountering these creatures are extremely low, you should never go diving without the guidance of a professional crew.

  • Decompression Sickness: Decompression sickness is a medical condition that often affects underwater divers, as it is caused by extreme pressure which allows the body to absorb more nitrogen.

    If the pressure isn’t reduced at a gradual rate, then the nitrogen can begin to form bubbles in your body tissue, which can lead to fatigue, paralysis and even death.

    To avoid suffering such a fate, you must always make sure that your return to the surface is executed in monitored stages, as this will help to slowly ease the pressure on your body. 

Anything Else You Should Know

If you are a first-time diver, then the notion of entering the sea may seem a little daunting and that is why we have compiled a list of essential tips that every first-time diver should practice: 

Essential Tips For First-Time Divers

  • Listen To Your Instructor: First, on our list, we have arguably the most important lesson of all. As a first-time diver, you should always listen to what your instructor says, as they are the ones with the experience to keep you safe. Never think that you know more than your instructor because the chances of that being true are very slim.

  • Stay With Your Buddy: If you are entering the water for the first time, then chances are you will be assigned a buddy to make sure that you are safe. Always make sure that your buddy is close by or in your line of sight, otherwise, you could risk being injured or forgotten.
  • Always Stay Relaxed: Before diving into the water, you may feel tense, jittery or excited, which can have a profound effect on your body and breathing. Before entering the water you should always make sure that you are relaxed, which you can do by taking deep breaths and thinking about all the wonderful things you are about to experience.

  • Stay Hydrated: During diving sessions, it is very common to become dehydrated, especially in warm climates such as those found in Australia. So it is always important to make sure that you drink plenty of water before and after a dive, we promise your body will thank you!

  • Know The Equipment: Although this final tip won’t apply to everyone, you should always make sure that you have all the diving equipment you need and that it is all in working order. To keep organized before a dive, we recommend making a checklist of everything you need, so that nothing goes overlooked. 

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