East Queensland Dive Sites
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Little Black Reef – Airlie Beach - Queensland
Airlie Beach’s Little Black Reef dive site is located in Queensland. This open water dive site is accessible only via boat but only through a licensed operator. As part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park special management area, if you don’t have a permit you aren’t allowed to use a boat in the area of the dive site. Don’t let this put you off however as Airlie Beach has many boat operators offering tourists transportation out into the water but speak to other divers before choosing which operator to use.
Little Black Reef has an average depth of 15 metres and a maximum of 40 metres. Visibility is around 25 metres. As this is a lagoon the diving is relatively safe and therefore can be enjoyed by both novices and experienced divers alike. If you love drift diving, there’s a drop on the outside wall of 40 metres that you’ll enjoy. The outside walls also afford you the chance of observing whales if you’re there in the winter season. With turtles, reef sharks and gorgeous gorgonians to admire, this is a great site to visit.
If biodiversity is what you’re looking for on a dive, then Little Black Reef is one for your must-dive list!
Outer Rock – Bustard Head – Central Queensland
Bustard Head in Central Queensland is home to the excellent Outer Rock dive site. This is an open water site. If you’re high tech and have access to GPS technology, just tap in these co-ordinates, 23:58:723 and 151:46:151, and you’ll not have any problem finding it. Note that the GPS will need to be either on some handheld device, or on your boat, because Outer Rock is only accessible via boat! Without GPS, you’ll find Outer Rock between 1770 and Gladstone. There’s a boat ramp that you can use at Turkey Beach, and if you want to make it a longer trip, consider camping at Pancake Creek.
The maximum depth at Outer Rock is 30 metres, but it averages around 22 metres. Visibility is approximately 15 metres. Although the official rating is open water, you should avoid diving here when the tides are rough. The absolute best time is January to September, and both slack water and high tide offer divers a great experience. Apart from the usual sea life commonly found in other dive sites around the Queensland area, Outer Rock is also home to bronze whalers and tiger sharks! If you’ve already dived SS Nautilus, this site makes a great follow-up!
Blue lagoon - Fitzroy Reef Lagoon - Queensland
I went on this dive when I’d just passed my novice training – there was an amazingly relaxing vibe about the whole place and I really enjoyed the dive. Blue Lagoon is in a sheltered area of Fitzroy Reef Lagoon, making it one of the most picturesque dives I did while I was visiting Queensland. We did shortish dive and it didn’t feel like quite enough – I could have dived for the whole day, without much help. Unfortunately, there’s only one boat permitted to operate in the area, a day tripper.
Once down there though, it’s amazing! A sophisticated series of corals and fish live in the bay, giving us the best of coral reef we ever saw. It was an amazing trip, start to finish, with lots of nudibranches, coral cod, shrimp, sea horses, and more. Every time we turned around there was something more to see- especially at the macro level. All in all, I got some gorgeous shots of everything that we saw. Clownfish, and lionfish seemed to be posed against the backdrop of the coral of various colours - blue groupers, eels, and more swam around the whole area.
Average depth here is around 6 metres – and the visibility is great. This is a highly recommended, gorgeous dive.
Polmaise Bommies – Gladstone - Queensland
Gladstone, Queensland is where you will find the Polmaise Bommies dive site. This site makes up part of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef so whether you are experienced or not, if your diving in Australia, you just have to do at least one Great Barrier Reef dive! You can find this one by tapping the following coordinates into your GPS unit: WGS84 23:34:401 (Lat) and 151:41:974 (Lon). The site can only be accessed via boat so you’ll need a mobile GPS device if you want to use it to get on top of the site.
Polmaise Bommies is an open water dive site. Its average depth is around 16 metres and drops only a few metres from there to a maximum of 20 metres. Visibility in the site is a good 20 metres giving you a clear view of the stunning sea life. If you enjoy swim-throughs, there are a couple here so make sure you don’t miss them!
The diverse fish life around Polmaise Bommies includes lion fish, cray fish, coral trout and barramundi. Be sure to check out the overhangs in this area as you could find some sea life that isn’t visible elsewhere around Polmaise.
Rundle Island – Gladstone - Queensland
Rundle Island in Gladstone, Queensland is a great dive site. One of the problems divers often have is finding a site that allows a family to dive together, most sites are not suitable for younger divers, but this one is. If you are a diver considering a family holiday on Gold Coast, then Rundle Island is a perfect spot.
Find Rundle Island by first getting to Curtis Island on your map (situated near Cape Capricorn). Leave Port Curtis via the north entrance and head north to Cape Cap. If you have a GPS device use the following coordinates to find the site easily: WGS84 23:32:084 (Lat) 151:16:415 (Lon). You shouldn’t have any problem finding a nice sheltered area to leave the boat. Average depth falls to about 8 metres with a maximum drop of 15 metres and an average visibility of 10 metres.
If you have already experienced diving the Melissa, or the Linda Jane, then Rundle Island is a perfect second dive to follow up with. Fish commonly found in this area include cray fish, cod and coral trout, but it’s the large amount of coral that makes this site so beautiful and memorable. You’ll be able to get some stunning family photographs with the coral as a breathtaking backdrop!
Sable Chief Rocks – Gladstone – Facing Island - Queensland
Sable Chief Rocks is a diving site in Gladstone Island, Queensland. The Sable Chief Rocks themselves poke out of the water at low tide and you’ll see them off Port Curtis on Facing Island’s ocean side. If you have GPS technology, you’ll be able to find the dive site by keying in the following: WGS84 23:48:800 (Lat) and 151:23:500 (Lon). You need to be careful when getting close to the rocks because the water quickly becomes very shallow. It’s an open water site that drops down to 15 metres, averaging 13 metres and has a visibility of around 15 metres. The best time to dive at Sable Chief Rocks is in the winter because the visibility is better, even with the strong west winds blowing.
The site gets its name from the Sable Chief, a 190 ton schooner that was shipwrecked on the rocks in 1856. Although the ship ended up on the beach, you can still see the ship’s anchor at it is is still in the water, around 5 metres down. This means there are two types of divers who will be interested in this site – those who love watching the sea life, and those who love wrecks (although the anchor is all that’s left of this particular wreck).
As for the sea life you can expect to find at Sable Chief Rocks, there are both soft and hard corals (and black coral trees), coral trout, crayfish, turtles and a wide array of nudibranchs.
Maori Wrasse Bommie – Lady Elliot Island - Queensland
The average depth at Maori Wrasse Bommie off Queensland’s Lady Elliot Island is 13 metres, but it only drops to a mere 16 metres at its maximum depth. There is a 10 metre average visibility at the site and you can access the open water site from both the shore, and by boat.
The dive site covers two different dive types; namely coral clay and reef. It’s not a site for beginners however so if you’re a novice you need to either get some more experience for diving here, or alternatively dive with someone who either has dived in this area previously, or at least is an intermediate level diver.
This dive site, part of the Great Barrier Reef, gets its name from the amount of Wrasse that you can find in the area. However that’s not the only thing you’ll find here. You’ll also find reef sharks that hang out area the arches and reef wall area, along with barramundi cod, moray eels, and an abundance of colourful fish such as clown triggerfish and nudibranchs. If exploring among shells is more your thing then you should follow the wall northwards a little way until you come to Spyder’s Ledge.
Sunset Drift – Lady Elliot Island - Queensland
The Sunset Drift dive site is located off Lady Elliot Island in Queensland. You need a boat to get to this dive site but if you don’t have your own, contact a local dive shop as they should be able to accommodate you. Visibility at Sunset Drift is around 15 metres with a maximum drop of 17 metres (averaging around 14 metres in depth). This dive site is rated as open water and the current isn’t usually too strong.
Primarily this is a drift dive that moves along the reef beside the lighthouse on the north of the island. Because the current isn’t as strong as at some other drift sites, it is possible to stop drifting to investigate anything that interests you along the way.
If you love hard corals then you’ll enjoy this dive as there are plenty of them at Sunset Drift. As for other sea life you can expect to see mantra rays, barracuda and trigger fish. One thing that might make this particular dive extra special is that it’s more than possible you will hear whale song – an extraordinary experience in the wild that will make this an unforgettable dive.
If admiring underwater beauty at low energy is your thing, Sunset Drift is definitely for you!
PONTOON – Lady Musgrave - Queensland
Pontoon dive site off Lady Musgrave in Queensland is an open water site. It’s shallower than most dive sites with a maximum depth of only 6 metres (averaging 5 metres). Add to this an average visibility and you have an idea site for novices to cut their teeth on! The dive site bottom is crushed coral and sand.
Look below the pontoon to find a mixed school of fish. It’s a large school so get your cameras ready, you might miss something if they are swimming close together that you’ll find later on your pictures! The diversity of size and colours is breathtaking! Apart from the fish, you’ll also see a large number of beautifully coloured giant clams. There’s also some stunning hard coral to look at.
If you want to take a break from observing the sea life that belongs there, drop down to the bottom and do some people watching as divers snorkel above you, some of them for the first time! If you’ve got oxygen left in your tank however you might prefer to explore the lagoon a little more. This is a dive site that may be shallow, but it has a lot of keep you interested and busy!
Andrews Caves - Lamont Reef Central - Queensland
There’s a lot to see down here – the site is a huge wall, with lots of caves – I didn’t find the one joined by a small tunnel, but I did see lots of little places and crannies where life hides. It was an amazing area, which starts around the 10 metre mark. At its deepest point, I would say it’s in excess of 25 metres, perhaps even 30. On the afternoon we were there, we saw lots of turtles, dozens of sea snakes (which was chilling), coral, cod and more. There was a great deal of gorgeous macro life too – including nudibranches and other small creatures – it didn’t have all that I’d hoped to get photos of, but it came close.
There is a current, but it’s very comfortable just to drift with and enjoy the sights down there. At no point did I see any sharks, or rays, which was a pity, but we had a look at some really neat growths on the walls, and enjoyed looking at several dozen different species. This is a great dive, but may require some additional safety gear- you should enquire with the local dive shop and ask what you should take and if there’s anything you should watch out for.
Pixie Pinnacle – Ribbon Reef - Queensland
Pixie Pinnacle is located at No9 Ribbon Reef GBR in Queensland. Despite its complicated address, this is a dive site that is perfect for novice divers as well as having plenty of colours to offer more experienced divers. The maximum depth drops down to around 32 metres, but averages 27 metres. The cone shaped site is approximately 15 metres wide. One of the things that make this dive so exciting is that the average visibility is a huge 30 metres! You need a boat to access this site, but if you don’t have one check out a local dive site for charters.
Even though it’s quite a deep site, the visibility coupled with a minimum current, makes it safe enough for less experienced divers. Drop down to the bottom of the site, and then work your way back up the “cone” that makes up most of the site. There are also overhangs, and caves just to keep your interest! The reef cone rises until it tapers off around 3 metres below the water’s surface.
Sea life is plentiful at Pixie Pinnacle and includes sea whips, lion fish, shrimps, clown fish, moray eels plus both soft and hard corals, gorgonians, and sponges. Keep a look out for the pink cloud that announces a group of feeding fairy basslets!
Steve's Bommie – Off Ribbon Reef - Queensland
You will find the Steve’s Bommie dive site of Queensland’s Ribbon Reef 3. If you are diving around the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns this is a good site to visit. There’s an average depth of 20 metres, but it does drop down to 35 metres in places. Visibility in the area is a stunning 50 metres which opens up the entire under sea world and it’s stunning!
This dive site is a pinnacle and your boat can drop you within metres of the actual site so you won’t be wasting oxygen or energy getting to it. It’s a great dive whether during the day or at night. If you’re a macro enthusiast and/or photographer, this is a must-dive place for you because there is so much to see with vast amounts of nudibranchs, pipefish, flatworms and other assorted sea life. There are various types of anemone fish, schools of blue-lined snapper, and big eye trevally. If you like your sea life a little larger then look out for the minke whales, white tip reed sharks and barracuda that frequent the area especially if you happen to be there between June and August. For the underwater garden enthusiasts there is plenty of coral; plate, boulder, golf ball and soft, plus gorgonian fans to explore.