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Scuba Diving in Australia – The Best Dive Sites!

Scuba diving in Australia? What are the highlights? Where are the best dive sites found? What can you expect to see diving in Australia?

Schooling reef fish

Ribbon Reefs Full of life.

Giant Potato Cod and Diver at the Cod Hole.

Giant Potato Cod, Cod Hole

Gorgonian Sea Fan

Gorgonian Sea Fan

Spotted Sweetlip Fish.

Spotted Sweetlip Fish.

Soft Coral Osprey Reef

Soft Coral Osprey Reef

Sea Turtle on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sea Turtles

Scuba diving in Australia can be broken into 3 main regions.

  1. The Great Barrier Reef located on the North East Coast of Queensland.
  2. The Central Coast of Maloolabah, Byron Bay, South West Rocks, Port Macquarie, and Sydney.
  3. The Great Ocean Road, Melbourne and Western Australia Ningaloo Reef.

The first and most famous place for scuba diving in Australia is the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef offers spectacular diving on coral walls teaming with life, giant coral bays and coral gardens, deep bommies, swim thru’s, small caverns, caves and a large array of marine animals.

Scuba Divers can expect to find many species of marine life, including sea turtles, giant clams, white tip and black tip reefs sharks, grey whaler reef sharks, giant mauri wrasse, schooling barracuda, queenfish, giant trevally, cuttlefish, moray eels, flame file shells, octopus, lionfish, glassfish, wobbegong reef sharks, parrot fish and sometimes whale sharks and manta rays.

The water temperatures are warm, ranging from around 22 to 29 degrees Celsius, this offers all year round diving. Check out our month by month guide for diving the Great Barrier Reef.

As the largest reef system on earth, the Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 2800klm. It is made up of hundreds of smaller reefs offering amazing bio-diversity and marine life. Divers can visit the reef three different ways.


1-Day boat diving

Day boats depart from either Cairns or from Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. There are also options for day boat diving from Alva Beach (SS Yongala Ship Wreck), Misson Beach, Townsville, Orpheus Island, Heron Island, Frankland Islands, Lizard Island, Hamilton Island and Lady Musgrave Island. But we have decided to suggest diving from Cairns and Airlie Beach for ease of access to the International airport at Cairns and the domestic Airport at Hamilton Island (Whitsundays).


2-Multi-day liveaboard dive boats

Overnight liveaboard dive boats depart from both Cairns and the Whitsundays. Although Cairns has a larger selection of liveaboard dive boats on offer due to the close proximity of the outer barrier reef systems, the ribbon reefs, and the coral sea. The Whitsundays tend to be great for visiting the Islands and white sandy beaches, but not the best visibility for scuba diving. If it is great diving you are after then you should look at a liveaboard dive boat from Cairns.


3-Coral Sea liveaboard dive expeditions

Extended Coral Sea liveaboard dive boats only depart from Cairns. Typically they dive the Northern outer barrier reef systems known as the ribbon reefs. Departing Cairns on Thursdays and returning to Cairns on Mondays, Coral Sea liveaboards also visit a large underwater sea-mount/volcano known as Osprey Reef. Osprey Reef is located 100 miles East of Australia in the Coral Sea. Coral Sea liveaboard expeditions are regarded as the best scuba diving in Australia!


What are the highlights?

The highlights of diving in Australia are absolutely diving the Great Barrier Reef. The southern parts of Australia do offer some unique diving experiences like cave diving with Grey Nurse sharks at South West Rocks and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. But diving on the Great Barrier Reef is regarded as the real gem of diving in Australia.

Where are the best dive sites found?

The best dive sites are found on the Great Barrier Reef teaming with life, superb coral and large schools of fish. Here is a list of the top 10 dives sites on the Great Barrier Reef.

  1. Osprey Reef Shark Dive at the North Horn Dive Site.
  2. Holmes Reef located East of Cairns in the Coral Sea.
  3. Steve’s Bommie, Ribbon Reef Number 10.
  4. The Cod Hole, Northern Ribbon Reefs Lizard Island.
  5. Yongalla Ship Wreck (Alva Beach).
  6. Three Sisters, Milln Reef Cairns.
  7. Lighthouse Bommie (Dwarf Minke Whale Encounters)
  8. Pixie Pinnacle Dive Site Ribbon Reef 9.
  9. Whale Bommie Milln Reef.
  10. Barracuda Bommie, Agincourt Reef 2, Port Douglas.

What can you expect to see diving in Australia?

If we talk about the best place to scuba dive in Australia, nearly all signs point to the Great Barrier Reef. Diving on the Great Barrier Reef you can expect to see a large array of marine species teaming with life. Expect to find tiny nudibranchs, seahorses, and shrimps to large grey whaler reef sharks, giant mauri wrasse reef fish, schooling giant trevally, queenfish and sea turtles of all species. The Great Barrier Reef is made up of hundreds of different species of soft and hard corals. Giant Gorgonian red sea fans, Sea Whips, Sponges, Anenome’s, Bolder Corals, Brain Corals and much more.


If you are planning to Scuba Dive in Australia then you should seriously look at scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. With easy access by day boat or liveaboard from Cairns or the Whitsundays, diving the Great Barrier Reef should be a must do on your next visit to Australia.

If you have questions or need help choosing a liveaboard or day boat dive trip to the reef, call our friendly staff at PH: + 61 7 40411638 or send us an email Our dive crazy staff will point you in the best place to scuba dive in Australia.


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