Australia is a unique country. It's beautiful, it's kind of isolated from the rest of the world but most of all: it's surrounded by sea. Living in a sea country affects the priorities, the options and even the mentality of the inhabitants. The priority for the population should be to acquire fundamental survival skills by learning to swim. But then, a beautiful exploring journey can begin. Australia is full of amazing diving spots, waiting to be discovered. Let's take a look at some of the best.
The Great Barrier Reef
On the northeast coast of Australia, there's this fantastic site. The Great Barrier Reef is like paradise on earth and is very well-known to both inhabitants and tourists visiting Australia. In a vast area of 2.300 kilometres, the divers can discover the amazing variety of collars, fish and molluscs. Containing the world's largest collection of coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is part of Unesco's world heritage list. Figures are dazzling: 940 islands and 2.900 discrete islands lie in a sea area of more than 340.000 square kilometres, making it one of the top diving spots not only in Australia but globally. The options that divers have at this place are vast: Port Douglas, Cairns, Southern Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island and Whitsunday Islands are just some of them. This place is so beautiful that even non-divers visit it to taste some of its magic.
This is another Unesco world heritage area and Australia's second-largest coral reef. It lies on the coast of Western Australia and is the country's largest fringing coral reef. It is also well-known for the whale sharks that feed there. They come around the area from March to June but divers shall not be alarmed. They are not dangerous for humans as they feed on small fishes and plankton. Ningaloo Reef also attracts a wide variety of sea mammals like dolphins, manta rays and dugongs. Extending on a length of 300 kilometres, it is one of the most renowned oceanic beauties in the world and a very popular attraction for divers. Apart from the underwater wonders they can explore, there is a stunning Marine Park to visit and admire the beauty of marine life. Ningaloo Reef is a top destination for divers.
This is a choice for the more adventurous divers who are after a great rush of adrenaline. Again, like Ningaloo Reef, you will be surrounded by sharks, only this time they will be white sharks and you will dive in a cage just next to them. It's a guarantee that all your senses will be alert and most definitely an unforgettable experience. You will be facing the great white sharks from a close distance and share their natural environment. Tour operators use a technique of baiting or sonic stimulation to keep the sharks next to the cage. It's important to keep in mind that since white shark is a nomadic species, there's not a certain and period of the year that they emerge there. Thus, you will need to contact local tour operators to inform you about it. Port Lincoln is located in South Australia and is regarded to be the seafood capital of the country.
Located in a suburb of Sydney, Shelly Beach is unique because it's the only coastal area of the east part of Australia that faces the west coast of the country. The underwater majesty of this place is mainly due to the great variety of fish species you can see. From juveniles and scads to sea dragons and dolphins, Shelly Beach provides life-long memories and should highlight the unparalleled beauty of life in the sea. Diving there will be like watching live the best underwater documentary of your life. You can explore Shelly Beach in deep water and be sure that it will be a rewarding experience. You should keep in mind though that during cold or rainy weather the water can get quite cold, especially if you dive deeper, so your equipment must be decent.
Close to Melbourne, you can find this popular diving site that attracts a wide range of divers. The main “attractions” of Portsea Pier are the Weedy Sea Dragons and the goblin fish, two of the most peculiar and beautiful ocean creatures. A very strange and interesting characteristic of Sea Dragons is that the males are the ones to give birth. Night divers and photographers are among the many admirers who dive frequently there, because of the aesthetic reward they get. The period from November to March is the best for visiting, as warmth and visibility are better than the rest of the year. Another advantage of Portsea Pier is that it's ideal for beginner divers who take their first steps in the sport because of its low depth of 5-6 meters.
This is a choice for the most willing to travel outside the discrete borders of Australia. Bicheno is located on the east coast of Tasmania, the island that lies 200 km south of the mainland. It is quite an exceptional diving site because of the distinctive granite geological form of the area. In Bicheno, you can find underwater caves and kelp forests and explore underwater life and beauty in remarkable surroundings. You can dive from its shores and the best time to do it is during wintertime because the visibility of water is much better. You may have the great pleasure of swimming next to dolphins and whales that make a stop there during their migration.
In the north part of Australia, you can find this beautiful small harbour that is considered one of the top diving spots, not only in Australia but, in the whole world. There are two distinct features there: Firstly, its monsoon tropical climate results in the emergence of two climate seasons: The Dry one lasts from April to September and the Wet one lasts from October to March. Secondly, in Darwin Harbour, there is a great diversity of fish life. There are about 415 known fish species in its waters. The above characteristics affect the choices that divers, who wish to explore the underwater beauty of the area, have. They can only dive during tides, which translates to a period of 6-8 days per month. On the other hand, Darwin Harbour provides a unique experience to its underwater visitors. Apart from the wealth of fish, you can witness several shipwrecks. It is a rare place to dive as you will have the opportunity to wander around ships that have sunk from the year 1942 when World War II was still on. So, it's maybe a hard task to arrange the suitable dates for diving there, but as the proverb says: Good things come who those to wait.
Another top diving spot for all the lovers of watching shipwrecks is Townsville, located on the north-eastern coast of Queensland. There, you can see the famous S.S. Yongala wreck ship and travel with your mind through history within the absolute underwater calmness. This giant 350-foot ship sank in 1911 and it was not discovered until 1961. As you can imagine, after 50 years at the bottom of the sea, the ship is the passenger ship was covered with seaweed and plankton and you need to swim close to it to distinguish it. Entering S.S. Yogala is forbidden. This diving spot in Townsville is aimed at experienced divers, because current there can be intense. Regardless of its “exclusivity”, since beginner divers will not be able to dive there, the shipwreck of Townsville is ranking among the top diving spots in the world.
Not very far away from Townsville in the northern part of Queensland, you will find another great diving spot in Port Douglas. Unlike the previous one, this is a spot for all divers of all levels. There are many reasons why so many divers choose it for enriching their diving experience: The drive for getting there is very attractive, the beaches are amazing and the whole picture of the place looks like a tropical paradise. Port Douglas has 45 different diving sites for all levels and tastes. You could use it as a starting point before going to the Great Barrier Reef, as there are cruises to get you there. Again, the underwater beauty of the place is majestic. It would be better to spend as much time possible in Port Douglas so that you could travel from one diving spot to the other.
For many divers around the world, Australia is the top destination. Even if there could be minor disagreements on the subject, still it's highly regarded in the diving community. The best thing is that it offers both quality and quantity options. Even for the most experienced divers, it would be a hard task to dive into all the beautiful spots around the country. But this is exactly what makes it so great: Divers will never feel bored here! So, like the ancient Latins used to say: Carpe diem.