When it comes to diving, the Great Barrier Reef is at or close to the top of every diver’s wish list. We’re going to cover that below, for sure – but there are dozens of other dive sites to explore on the east coast of Australia. From ship wrecks to the classic Great Barrier Reef pilgrimage we’ve narrowed them down to five of our top picks. Enjoy and as always – dive safe.
Named by Captain Cook, Lizard Island has been one of the most popular diving spots on the Great Barrier Reef for decades. Cod Hole in particular is a whole world of undersea life including giant clams, anemones, and Potato Cods. And whether or not it’s a plus for you, many of the creatures are quite used to their human visitors and will wait patiently while you touch them or photograph them.
The friendly fish and the shallow depth (30-45 feet) make this an excellent site for beginner divers as well – and the warm waters ensures a year-round diving scene. But, it’s no child’s sandbox – Lizard Island’s fantastic underwater terrain and teeming life mean that it’s also a world-class marine research point.
Lizard Island’s humans are also well-accustomed to visitors, and there is plenty to see and do here for all nature lovers. From the island’s 24 tropical beaches to top resorts to hiking in the national park, you may never want to go back to the mainland!
Wreck diving is an exciting blend of water sport, history and marine exploration. If you’re a fan of trolling the depths for shipwrecks, then it’s not surprising that the SS Yongala is probably already on your list. But even if you’re not, you’ve surely seen the name on almost everyone’s top ten dive lists.
The SS Yongala, a 330-foot vessel, went down on March 23, 1911 during a cyclone. The ship stayed undiscovered until 1958, when divers properly identified it as the long-missing Yongala. Since then, it as been thoroughly investigated and its bell was brought on land and cleaned up for public viewing.
Today, it’s a veritable amusement park for divers, with tons to discover. First of all, it’s almost entirely intact, a rarity for shipwrecks, especially one as old as the Yongala. Secondly, it’s a prime spot to see turtles, barracuda and clown fish. And third, the coral seems to be in Technicolor, and very well preserved for such a popular diving spot.
If you’d like to dive but don’t want to spend too much time getting to and from the spot, then Bargara is the place for you. Bargara is a fun vacation destination in its own right, with shopping, scenic walks, a gorgeous beach and plenty of great restaurants. So it’s perfect for couples or groups of friends where one of you might not be into diving.
There are several good spots for diving at Bargara, but our top pick is Two Mile Rocks. It’s just a three-minute boat ride, and there is plenty of marine life to see – including moray eels, sea snakes, and the ever-popular turtles. It’s safe for beginners and interesting enough for advanced divers (although you might want to check your insurance policy before you go!)
This is a world-heritage listed site located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s easily one of the most beautiful dive sites on the East Coast of Australia and also the most accessible. Head out only 15 mintues from the mainland to hang out with Wobbegong sharks, parrotfish, Moray eels and turtles.You’ll also see anemones and stunning Staghorn Coral banks, overhangs and tunnels making it a great place to learn how to dive. The Coral Cascades, Heron Bommie and the Blue Pools are some of the best sites.
The Whitsunday Islands
These beautiful islands off the coast of Queensland are a photographers dream, this area is also home to many excellent dive sites. Bait Reef on the Outer Reef is popular for its drop-offs. Snorkelers can explore not just the Outer Reef but also patch reefs among the islands and rarely visited fringing reefs around many islands.