We might live in the driest inhabited continent on earth but look all around and you’ll spot water. Lots of it. Australia is encircled by thousands of kilometres of breathtaking coastline, which gifts us with an incredible aquatic playground.
Yet with so much coastline to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start or where to go to next for an unforgettable scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, or kayaking experience.
Don’t be sunk by information overload. We’ve done the hard work for you and found the best places to indulge in water-based leisure. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, there are plenty of world-class locations scattered all across the country.
It’s time to hit the water...
The Great Barrier Reef, QLD
The natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is undeniable, attracting millions from around the globe each year to witness the coloured spectacle of marine life and unique coral reefs. It’s no wonder that scuba diving is one of the most popular activities around the Great Barrier Reef: cruising alongside six of the world's seven sea turtle species, as well as peaceful dugongs, is an intimate and breathtaking experience.
Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Beautiful Mornington Peninsula, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, attracts many scuba diving enthusiasts to its unique dive sites. One of these sites is HMAS Canberra, an artificial reef purposely created for scuba divers. Situated about 28m below the water’s surface, the wreck allows scuba divers to explore the mega structure; drifting along main deck, gun deck, and bridge deck where sailors once roamed. It is also home to varieties of colourful sea dragons, sea horses, and soft corals that are sure to please even the most avid divers.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Mornington Peninsula Holiday Park.
Wolf Rock, Great Sandy Marine Park, QLD
Wolf Rock, which is made up of four volcanic pinnacles in the protected Great Sandy Marine Park, presents a thrilling scuba diving adventure. The waters of Wolf Rock host one of the known mating grounds for the beautiful endangered grey nurse sharks. You can also see eagle rays, mantas, giant trevally, mackerel, barracuda, and whales, which often make an appearance in this area.
Noosa Heads, QLD
If you’re looking to learn how to surf, then look no further than Noosa Heads. Noosa Heads provides the best conditions for novice surfers, offering gentle and consistent waves and plenty of surf schools looking to teach you the ins and outs of catching that next tube. It’s generally a pretty low-key area, meaning you don’t have to worry about people seeing you fall off your board after two seconds.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Noosa.
Bells Beach, VIC
Bell’s Beach, located along the Great Ocean Road, is the place to be for more advanced surfers. Bells Beach is home to Australia’s longest standing surfing competition: The Rip Curl Pro. The waves can reach 5m high at times, which provides the ultimate surf conditions for experienced surfers. Consequently, this area attracts surfers from around the globe hoping to catch some of the finest waves the world has to offer. If you’re not ready to step up your game, simply watch the locals going for it. Bells Beach is a prime reason why the Great Ocean Road is a must-visit holiday area.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Anglesea Holiday Park.
Yallingup Beach, WA
Sure, the Margaret River region produces plenty of world-class wine, but it also hosts some of the best surfing spots Australia has to offer. Nestled about 260km south of Perth, Yallingup Beach provides great surf conditions all year round. It’s also well-known for its alluring limestone caves that will engross the whole family.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Taunton Farm Margaret River.
Montebello-Barrow Islands Marine Park, WA
In the north of WA, Montebello-Barrow Islands Marine Park is a sanctuary of more than 250 islands, making it a snorkeller's dream. Positioned to the west of the Dampier Archipelago, these limestone islands with immaculate white sandy beaches and the most turquoise of waters provide a fantastic snorkelling and diving experience. The marine flora and fauna are sure to dazzle.
Port Phillip Bay, VIC
Melbourne is located on the shores of sprawling Port Phillip Bay, and a visit underwater reveals a world that is as vibrant and lively as the Victorian capital. The bay hosts an array of marine life that the entire family can witness by snorkelling around the area. Spot sea urchins, cat sharks (which are neither big or scary), rays, zebra fish, weird sea slugs, and brightly coloured seahorses. This is on top of unusual corals and other underwater flora where these species tend to hide. Depending on the season, you can also run into the curious and friendly Australian fur seal, which kids or adults both find entertaining.
Visit...When staying at a BIG4 park in Melbourne.
Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey, TAS
Located in the south west of Tasmania, Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey offer magnificent scenery from a kayak. Witness the remote, intact, and lush wilderness that southern Tasmania has on offer. Typically, you would launch your kayak from the remote Melaleuca strip and start your trek towards unknown fresh waters and coastline. The whole circuit takes about a week, but will change your life forever.
Lawn Hill Gorge, QLD
Lawn Hill Gorge, in the heart of Far North Queensland, is known for its walking trails but also provides an exciting kayaking voyage where you can see turtles and freshwater crocodiles lazing along the base of the gorge cliff faces. Spectacular waterfalls and swimming spots are the main attraction of Lawn Hill Gorge, where kayakers can pull up and enjoy themselves before peacefully paddling back towards base. Cabbage palm trees, synonymous with Far North Queensland, also line the banks of the river to add that extra tropical touch that makes this one of the best kayaking spots to cruise and relax.
How many of these great destinations have you been to? Share your experiences or let our readers know about any water-leisure hotspots that should be on this list in the comments section below.
Isn’t it time you made a splash on your next break? Remember, coastal adventures begin with BIG4.