Best Dive Sites of Queensland AUSTRALIA
Queensland is Australia’s scuba diving underwater playground. Dive charters services have opened up the Great Barrier Reef and the vast Coral Sea to divers. Day and Liveaboard Dive trips operate to the Great Barrier Reef from most of the central and northern Queensland coastal towns, with Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Airlie Beach being prominent. All being excellent dive areas, but that’s not all that Queensland has to offer and the Great Barrier Reef is not the only way to explore the “must do” regions of this amazing marine diverse environment. Queensland’s coastline extends for more than half of the total eastern seaboard of Australia. Queensland stretches over 3,000 kilometres, the Great Barrier Reef contributing 1700 kilometres. Dive in Australia’s unique website reveals and highlights these “must do” dive sites each with their own unique marine life, characteristics and location.
Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is iconic and incredibly beautiful, resting on the north-east coast of Australia, it is a chain of 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands. Starting from Ashmore Reef in the Far North near Papua New Guinea, down to Lady Elliot Island off Bundaberg. The Great Barrier Reef provides the most spectacular marine scenery on earth and stretches across 2600kms. It is recognized as the world’s most extensive stretch of coral reef and probably the richest area in terms of faunal diversity in the world. Noted as one of the most unique and amazing marine spectacles, it is one of the world's natural wonders. The Great Barrier Reef is a major feeding ground for the endangered dugong, the green and loggerhead turtle and home to the most diverse marine life including over 1,500 species of fish, about 360 species of hard coral, sponges and anemones. It is also recognised as an important breeding area for the Humpback Whale.
World renowned for it's amazing scuba diving locations Cairns, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach offer the majority of access via Day Dive Boats, Liveaboard trips and Scuba Diving courses, catering for both the beginner and the experienced diving expert. Australia's Great Barrier Reef delivers a wide range of diving experiences with good visibility, limited currents and tropical waters temperatures ranging from 22°C – 29°C (75°F - 85°F). If you have never Scuba dived before the Great Barrier Reef provides a great places to learn. 3 and 4 Day Open Water Dive courses offer an amazing classroom locations and an experience, with specialised dive sites chosen to incorporate calm protected, shallow spots around islands or gentle reefs. For those with some experience diving expedition depart daily from Cairns, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach. Enjoy some of the most diverse diving and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef has to offers, learn why it’s is noted for it’s unique heritage listed dive sites and one of the world’s amazing natural wonders.
Ribbon & Osprey Reefs
The remote Ribbon Reefs are a string of 10 separate reef systems 1, 2 through to 10. Located at the northern reaches of the 2,300 km long Great Barrier Reef, they are right on the edge of the Continental shelf, these coral reefs stretch over 100km from due east of Cooktown up to near Lizard Island, north of Cairns and attract a huge diversity of marine life including sharks and Mantra Rays, there are numerous dive sites to be explored in the ribbons, including the world famous Cod Hole and Osprey Reef. Awaiting you are picturesque coral gardens and isolated 'bommies' crowned in delicate corals, anemones, and colourful reef fish, there are numerous dive sites to be explored in the ribbon reefs with maximum dive depths generally around 30m, visibility ranges from 10m – 40m and water temperatures between 29 degrees in summer to 23 degrees in the Winter. Ribbon Reef dive trips are suitable for beginner and advanced divers.
The Cod Hole lies at the top of the Ribbon Reefs, and is home to a family of resident Potato Cod (Groper). These diver friendly fish will amaze you with their sheer size and seeming eagerness to pose for camera. Offshore 200km Osprey Reef sits in the oceanic wilderness of Australia's Coral Sea. Here 900m walls emerge from the ocean depths and the water is so astoundingly clear that divers appear suspended in air. You will see massive red and yellow soft corals, reef sharks, whaler sharks, schooling hammerheads, mantas, plus schools of barracuda, big eye trevally, and mackeral.
Ayr - Alvia Beach
The S.S. Yongala is one of the world’s top wreck dives in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, just 12 nautical miles away from Alva Beach, Queensland, approximately 100km south of Townsville. This enchanted wreck is over 100 years old and its resting place so unique that the SS Yongala has become an artificial reef and home to an incredible array of marine life. Giant gropers hang beneath the stern while schools of giant trevally congregate in and around the wreck structure. Divers are in awe by the gentle sea snakes that glide harmlessly past you and the amount of baitfish that attract the schooling barracuda. Lazy turtles feeding and graceful sweeping rays are not an uncommon site accompanied by thousands of other creatures on the now coral encrusted structure.
The historical wreck lays in 14-28 metres of water and 109m long and is the largest and most intact historic shipwreck in Australian waters, it is also host to a huge diversity of pelagic and reef fish species found in the Coral Sea. Visibility is between 10m to 20m being normal. Departing from Alva beach, Certified divers can experience the SS Yongala without the long boat rides.
Bundaberg - Lady Musgrave Island / Lady Elliott Island
Bundaberg is 450 kms north of Brisbane. Of importance to divers however is the coastal region nearby which has some of the finest offshore diving and the unique opportunity of walking straight in from the shoreline, this is the best shore diving in Queensland. The depth of these dive sites range from 6m - 12m. Bundaberg shoreline has spectacular hard and soft corals and the opportunity to come up close and personal with an enormous variety of marine inhabitants. Bundaberg is also the departure point for boat trips to Lady Musgrave Island, and is the air terminal for Lady Elliot Island, 85k to the north.
The beautiful Lady Musgrave Island and lagoon right on the Great Barrier Reef is the Eco Adventure destination of the South Pacific for Scuba divers. Lady Musgrave Island is part of the Bunker group of islands, a true coral cay and surrounded by 1192 hectares of spectacular reef. With only limited visitations, its corals and reefs remain pristine, and coupled with exceptional water clarity, abundant fish life and temperate waters; it is one of the great dive destinations on the reef.
Lady Elliott Island, the diving here can only be described as 'world class'. The island lies only 85 km north-east of Bundaberg; it is the most southern coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef, and a flight by light aircraft of only 35mins. Mention Lady Elliott Island to any diver and the immediate reaction is excited talk about the Manta Rays. Along with these magnificent creatures you can also see Leopard Sharks, Bull rays, shovelnose rays, eagle rays, as well as Loggerhead, Hawksbill & green turtles. In the winter Humpback Whales pass as they head from Antarctica to the warmer waters up North. The Blowhole and Hero’s Cave are some of the most popular boat dive sites, however not all diving is by boat, there are many fabulous dives never too far from the shore.
Gladstone - Heron Island
Heron Island in the Capricorn Group 72 km out from Gladstone. The island is a natural coral cay 89 kms off the coast of Queensland, so it’s not just another resort near the Great Barrier Reef; it’s a premier resort on the Great Barrier Reef, 300m wide and 600m long. Access to the island is via Gladstone on the mainland coast 600kms north of Brisbane. The water around Heron Island are teeming with a wide variety of marine life, turtles, manta rays, reef sharks and an endless show of invertebrates that call the waters of Heron Island home.
Heron Island is an easy vacation choice for divers, and people who love to snorkel as you can enjoy drifting over shallow reefs just meters from the shore to experienced dives with average depths of between 10 and 25 metres. You don’t have to take any special boat trips to experience this wonder of the world. The reef, with a myriad of colourful coral and reef fish, is right here, at your fingertips, right off the beach.
Mooloolaba – HMAS Brisbane
HMAS BRISBANE is approximately 5 Nautical Miles from the mouth of the Mooloolaba Boat Harbour. The HMAS Brisbane is the only purpose designed dive wreck in Australia where you can actually dive inside the engine and boiler rooms. Access inside the “Brisbane” is optimum with all internal areas offering three points of natural lighting with wide, open entry and exit swim throughs and at length of 133mts the HMAS Brisbane is the largest accessible wreck in QLD.
The wreck attracts large pelagic species such as kingfish, mackerel and cobia whilst providing shelter for a variety of tropical reef species including snapper, lionfish, angelfish, butterfly fish and grouper’s that are over 2mts in length. The HMAS Brisbane is sheltered inside the Moreton Island waters and clarity provides a consistent 15-20 metres visibility with depth sites ranging from 12- 18 mtrs. There are over 30 wrecks in this area from barges, yachts, tugs, pontoons and ferries, right through to an old Brisbane tram, these now form a huge artificial reef. Best diving is on the slack water high tide and allows for easy exploration for most of the wrecks in this group.