Australia is probably on everyone’s bucket list – and for good reason! Everyone is familiar with the Great Barrier Reef. But, there are two other lesser-known areas to dive in Australia – South Australia and the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. No matter where you go, you are assured of a unique experience.
In addition to great diving, Australia is also known for diverse landscapes, aboriginal culture, kangaroos, Koalas and super friendly people. So, be sure to allow some extra time before or after your diving to explore at least a small corner of Australia. It will take many trips to see it all.
Where to Dive in Australia
Australia is about the same size as the US (not counting Alaska and Hawaii!). So, this isn’t a destination that you do in a long weekend. It really can’t be covered in 2 weeks. It will take multiple trips to see it all and there will be things you want to go back and do again!
The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1200 miles from Lizard Island in the north to Great Palm Island in the south. It is the world’s largest coral reef system and the only structure (made up of living organisms) that is actually visible from space.
The Rowley Shoals of Western Australia is one of the most remote and pristine marine areas in the world! The shoals are the remains of three volcanoes that rose out of the ocean. The tops have been colonized by coral and have formed three pristine coral atolls. Each atoll covers approximately 30 sq miles!
South Australia is so spectacular! They have a healthy population of Great White Sharks, seals and sea lions. It is also the only place in the world that you will find the leafy and the weedy sea dragon! As if that’s not enough – they also have two unique occurrences of mating cuttlefish and mating squids – by the hundreds!
How to Dive Australia
Most of Australia is best done on a liveaboard. There are day trips offered on the Great Barrier Reef – and if you only have 1 or 2 days to dive – it’s better than nothing! But, if you want the best experience and the best diving, you need to go on a liveaboard. There are trips as short as 3 nights. But, most trips will be 7 nights on board.
South Australia needs to be seen on a liveaboard! The sites are too remote for day trips and there’s just too much distance to cover!
Ningaloo Reef can be done on day trips and enjoy a non-rocking bed at night in a nearby hotel! Rowley Shoals in Western Australia is only accessed by liveaboard as it is very remote.
When to Dive Australia
You can dive in Australia year round. But, late August to early December offers the best diving conditions on the Great Barrier Reef.
Here are some of the other seasonal aspects to consider
- The waters are relatively warm in North Queensland. June to August will yield temps in the mid 70s. And, December to February will be in the low/mid 80s.
- The most popular time for liveaboards on the Great Barrier Reef is July to November. The calmest sea conditions are between September and February.
- June to November are the driest months. December, January and February get the most rainfall.
- Minke Whale season is June to August. Humpback whales are likely to be seen between August and October.
- Coral spawning is most likely observed in November. This is a great time to photograph the giant Potato cod!
- Jellyfish season in North Queensland is from November to April – though they are coastal dweller and not present on the reef.
- The season for Great White Sharks in South Australia is May to February. May to October sees the most predator action.