What a dive! The top 7 places to go diving in Australia

Explore the amazing array of sea life at the Great Barrier Reef in QLD.

Australia is a diver’s paradise. Easy access to shipwrecks, unforgettable interactions with marine life, and a rich array of colours make the underwater world irresistible.  

Want the lowdown on Australia’s diving hotspots? Then sink your teeth into this inspiring list put together by Tourism Australia.

It’s time to take the plunge…

 

1. Great Barrier Reef, QLD

Don’t miss the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, a living masterpiece so big it can be seen from space. It stretches almost 2000km along the Queensland coast, from Cape York to Bundaberg.

Discover the diving havens of Heron and Lizard Islands. Or stay in the Whitsundays and take a sea-plane to spectacular Heart Reef. Base yourself in Cairns or Port Douglas and visit the reef gardens of Green and Fitzroy Islands.

Travel further to Agincourt Reef, on the edge of the continental shelf. Kick through coral canyons filled with turtles, sea stars, and crabs at Lady Musgrave Island and Fitzroy Lagoon near Gladstone. Explore the SS Yongala shipwreck from Townsville and the Llewellyn shipwreck from Mackay.

Swim with the marble rays at the SS Yongala shipwreck near Townsville, QLD.

2. Ningaloo, WA

Join the tropical-coloured party at Ningaloo Marine Park, the world’s largest fringing reef. It’s home to 200 species of hard coral, 50 soft coral, and 500-plus species of fish.

Snorkel or shallow dive with brightly adorned fish in the Bundegi Bombies reef sanctuary. Get up close to sci-fi sponges, gorgonians, and sea whips at the entrance to the Exmouth Gulf.

Mingle with turtles, manta rays, dolphins, dugongs, batfish, angelfish, and clownfish, among others, at Lighthouse Bay. Discover spectacular reef diving and a glamorous underwater crowd at the Murion Islands. Between April and June, you can even hang out with the whale shark, the world’s largest fish.

Snorkel or shallow dive with brightly coloured fish at Ningaloo Marine Park in WA.

3. Mornington Peninsula, VIC

Dive with sting rays, seahorses, cuttlefish, squid, urchins, rock cod, and weedy sea dragons in Port Phillip Heads Marine Park. This magical marine world sits off the Mornington Peninsula, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne.

Marvel at the abundance of fish, birds, and seals in the tiny sanctuary of Popes Eye. Swim with dolphins at Sorrento. Drop from 8-18m, past the underwater cliffs, ledges, and caves of Kelp Beds Reef. Or go even deeper at Port Phillip Heads, which offers wall dives, drop-offs, and submerged World War I submarines. Learn to dive at Portsea Pier and discover a dreamcoat diversity of fish on the trail around Rye Pier. 

Learn to dive at Portsea Pier, on the Mornington Peninsula in VIC.

4. East Coast Dive Trail, TAS

Hop between 11 spectacular diving spots along Tasmania’s east coast, from Binalong Bay to the Tasman Peninsula. The clear, turquoise water has visibility between 10-40m.

See big-bellied seahorses and weedy seadragons on a shore dive in Waubs Bay, near Bicheno. Glide past jewelled anemones and schools of butterfly perch in Governor Island Marine Nature Reserve.

Swim through the enchanting caves of Isle de Phoque, also home to a large seal colony. Dive the scuttled Troy D near Maria Island or off the boat into the large reefs and caves of Waterfall Bay. Kick through the Fortescue Bay Kelp Forest or around the SS Nord, which in 1915 sank 40m deep.

Dive in the clear, turquoise waters of the east coast of TAS.

5. Baird Bay, SA

Swim, snorkel, or dive with playful sea-lions and bottlenosed dolphins in tranquil Baird Bay on the Eyre Peninsula. This fishing village has become famous for the colony of endangered sea-lions that live in a sheltered lagoon offshore. Watch parents and pups somersault through the clear water, just a whisker away. Stare into their soulful, brown eyes and let them nudge you and invite you to play. 

Dive in deeper water with pods of fun-loving, but more elusive dolphins. In nearby Port Lincoln, you can swim with cuttlefish and tuna and even cage dive with great white sharks.

Sea lions are just one of the many animals you can swim with in Port Lincoln, SA.

Credit: SATC

6. Darwin Harbour, NT

Dive World War II wrecks and a coastal reef teeming with fish in balmy Darwin Harbour. Approximately every second week, the tidal currents let you discover these underwater secrets. 

Swim through moss-covered hulks of ships, sunk in 1942 air raids, and now home to coral trout, wobbegong sharks, jewfish, and barracuda. See gorgonians, soft coral trees, harp corals, vase sponges, and ascidians in the shallow reefs lining either side of the harbour. 

Experience one of Darwin’s famous flamingo sunsets before a night dive in the warm, glass-smooth seas. You’ll spot slate pencil urchins and the occasional octopus in the naturally illuminated water.

Explore World War II wrecks and an amazing coastal reef at Darwin Harbour in NT.

7. Clovelly and Gordons Bay, NSW

Meet a rainbow community of fish in the picturesque, rocky channels of Clovelly and neighbouring Gordons Bay. Here, just 8km from Sydney’s CBD, blue groper, bream, snapper, kingfish, eastern blue devilfish, giant cuttlefish, and flathead crowd the ocean.

Go night-diving in sheltered Clovelly Pool or in the bigger waves off Sharks Point, at Clovelly’s northern end. Wind around Gordons Bay on the 500m Underwater Nature Trail, past rocky reefs, sandflats, and kelp forests. Among the usual marine suspects, you’ll find weedfish, seadragons, wobbegongs, and Port Jackson sharks, as well as sea stars, slugs, and urchins.

 

What’s your favourite diving location in Australia? Tell us about your best diving experiences in the comments section below.

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