Sydney and Surrounding Areas Dive Sites
Click one of the following links to jump to that location and find out more about dive sites in that area:
Bushrangers Bay – Bass Point - New South Wales
This shore dive is easiest found by asking for directions in Shell Harbour – there’s several people that will know the way to the dive.
There is also a warning about this site – you have to climb up and down- slightly less than 100 metres, but it’s still a hard climb down or back with your kit. There is a nice shady area under some pretty trees, so you can rest there before heading into the water, though, don’t don your fins till you’re actually out there, it’s easier to walk on the uneven rocks that way.
There’s a lot in the bay to see, with currents and more so be cautious when exploring or you may find yourself swept away. There’s an amazing array of vegetation, wildlife and critters to examine, and this area is a macro photographer, and ‘regular’ photographer’s dream – you’ll see so much down here that you won’t know what to look at first! I’ve been five times now, and other than the climb down it’s actually a very comfortable area to dive in. An average depth of 22 metres makes this place a nice, comfortable dive, without being taxing – the visibility is around 10 metres – but as the average depth is also as deep as it gets, this area is easy to enjoy without worrying about depths that you aren’t confident in, or swimming in areas that vary in depth.
The bay itself has dozens of interesting points – in an almost hourglass shape, this site is great to swim and explore along a lazy figure of eight – you’ll make lots of amazing discoveries that way, without taxing yourself. Just remember the climb back at the other end!
Bushrangers Reef - Bass Point - New South Wales
This advanced boat only dive, is at around 24 metres maximum depth – and is a lovely pinnacle of around 10 metres, rising off the ocean floor. It is absolutely teeming with life, and is a gorgeous site to just spiral up and down. Masses and masses of coral, fish and more cover most all of the pinnacle itself.
It is an advanced dive, in part for the shifting currents out around it – you can see the cold fronts heading towards the pinnacle like oil on water – it’s a sheet that looks really strange – and you can *really* feel the drop in temperature when it hits you. Other than that, though, it’s gorgeous.
Once you’re well situated in the area and know what you want to look at, it’s easy to enjoy yourself down there – we went with a group and spent the whole afternoon just swimming and enjoying ourselves down there. I saw some lion fish, and a manta ray, along with some eels of some description (I think they were Moray), and off in the distance, some large shapes which our guide assured us were nurse sharks. All in all, a very interesting dive for people with experience.
Deco Reef – Bass Point - New South Wales
Only accessible by boat, this technically rated dive has a maximum depth of 60+ metres and an average depth of 45 metres; it has a low visibility of five metres. This low visibility, plus the reef, and depth is why the dive is rated so highly on technicalities. But because it’s rated so high, it’s possible that you’ll be the only group there – and there are other amazing places to explore in the region. Nearby other diving sites include wrecks, gutters or muck dives, but this one is a gorgeously solid dive that will challenge and intrigue anyone that goes over to try it.
Once you’ve dived off the boat, and dropped to the requisite depth, you’ll find a lovely coral reef - amazing considering the depth that it’s growing at, which masks part of the depth of the dive overall. The pre-requisite marine life is found around here, including endangered nursing sharks – and the expected groupers, and some turtles and more. As the visibility is so low, the area is mostly used for technical diving and dive practices, so don’t expect to see too much in the way of wildlife down there, but if you do, it’s a bonus you won’t soon forget.
Slipper Reef Bass Point – Bass Point - New South Wales
This site is only accessible by boat, so if you’re really keen to come out and see it, you’ll need to speak to the local dive team. They’ll tell you that the site was so named because they were doing a dive to explore the area and decide what to do with toured dives, and the place was absolutely filled of Slipper Cray. You may or may not visit around that time, but if not, you’ll be able to view some of the funniest King Wrasse you may ever encounter – they’re aggressively curious and will come up and swim really close. The dive team say it’s almost like harassment, but I think they’re just curious and were very cute.
The dive itself is about 30 metres deep and has lots of interesting little features, including the overpowering shoal of King Wrasse. There’s a mooring buoy, so you can be sure you’ll come up near your boat if you follow that, and there’s lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The visibility too is fairly good down there, with an average of 10 metres being reported. I think it was just under that in overcast conditions when we were down there. Also when shoals or boats pass above it’s obviously going to dim considerably.
Spider Reef – Bass Point – New South Wales
For those that don’t like spiders of any kind, this is a dive to definitely avoid. As the name suggests, this reef, with soft coral and some other vegetation, houses some of the various species of sea spider. And there are quite a few.
Sea spiders are some of the most surreal spiders you’ll ever see and look like someone has taken lobster and crab parts, in some cases and strung them together into a spider like shape. I’m not keen on spiders, but my other half is so we did this dive.
Accessible by boat, there are numerous tour operators in the region that will take you out, and this open water dive is fairly easy to do, if you’re not freaked out by the idea of spiders under water. Average visibility is low, at around a third of the max depth, or eight metres to the 24 metre depth, while the median average depth is around 15 metres. It’s not a challenging dive in other words, but as its open water, you need to be proficient to manage that. Other than the spiders, there’s lots of soft coral and other small creatures to keep you busy - that is, if you can avoid looking at the spiders.
The Gutter- Bass Point – New South Wales
The gutter is one of those sites that all levels of divers can enjoy – I’ve been here as a beginner, and then later as an advanced diver to get my certifications. With an average depth of 15 metres, and an overall depth of 25, this is a great site for people that want to just get out there and enjoy the sea. So named because it’s a gutter that you can ascend and descend this is a decent swim for anyone looking to do anything they want with their certifications – be aware however that there are places that use this place as a dive certification spot for their schools. As it’s easily accessible from shore, it’s often a busy dive.
You can see all sorts down here, from sea spiders (yes, really, sea spiders! I freaked out when I saw them the first time), to snouted boar fish, blue devil fish and more against a backdrop of sea tulips, sponge and gorgonians.
There are also roaming rays around here – from the huge black ray to some smaller Eagle rays. You’ll also encounter mating cuttlefish, squid or in certain times of the year, even seals. The best time to catch whales is during the late spring/early summer, and through autumn to see them heading out with their calves for the winter.
Gordon’s Bay – Clovelly - New South Wales
You can find Gordon’s Bay to the South of Clovelley. Park in the far south end of the car park, and then walk down to the water. You can swim or snorkel out then start exploring or just duck straight in. Ideal in low swell, this site is rated as Open Water, with a max depth of 14 metres. Visibility is ok – at five metres, but you’ll sometimes find its lower, if the bottom has been stirred up, other times, you’ll have 10 or even 20 metres visibility – based on how the currents and tides have gone over the day before. Head out towards the middle of the bay, either snorkelling, or diving, and then follow and explore the drop off – which hits the average depth of 10 metres ideally. There are lots to see and do while there.
You’ll see lots of nudibranchs here, along with blue groupers, sometimes some sea horses, though you have to look really closely. No matter what you do, be sure to watch out for rarer fish as they sometimes pop up here, and spend some time in the bay before swimming out to their more accustomed spots. I’ve even seen a turtle swimming out slightly deeper, so it’s a great place to wildlife spot.
Bird Island - Eastern End – New South Wales
Bird Island is only accessible by boat – once there, you can find just about anywhere to dive – there’s lots to do around the whole island, and out around the edges you can head further out and explore. This is an open water dive, but there’s lots of areas that are secure and safe, but don’t create a problem for divers that lack confidence.
There are tonnes of groupers and other brightly coloured fish, hiding along the rock ledges, and kelp reefs. You can find several swim through which are good fun if you’re interested in that sort of thing, but most of all, there’s lots of wildlife and vegetation that you can examine and enjoy while you’re down there. There’s nudibranchs, and sponges that are gorgeous to look at. You can find lots of other creatures that are interesting to examine, though there’s not as much wildlife as some areas in the region. The dive itself is about 20 metres deep, while the visibility is a comfortable 12 metres – the two or three areas I’ve dived have always been fairly desolate of life other than the occasional shoal of fish shooting through, but I’ve been at odd times of the year, and didn’t want to disturb the kelp, in case there was anything hiding in it.
Cannae Point - Flagstaff – New South Wales
Accessible via boat, you swim inwards from the boat to the shore until you find a rough rock or sand line. Average depth here is 10 metres, with an average depth of 15 metres; this is an open water dive that will only challenge the least experienced. One of the amazing things you’ll see here are weedy sea dragons – a very rare fish that looks like a cross between seaweed and a seahorse. You’ll also find stingrays, blind sharks, and some other amazing sights, as well as the more mundane ‘usual suspects’ from the Sydney reef’s range of wildlife.
There are dozens of nooks and crannies to explore so take your time while heading south – keep your eye out for cling fish and basket stars, as they’re tiny compared to some of the other things you’ll see. You’re most likely to find the basket stars around the sea tulips, which wave happily in the gentle current surrounding the area. You can explore further, as there’s more depth further on, but it may be exhausting for you, so bear this in mind before choosing to spend the day exploring. For a bit of a change, you can go out on a night dive, and see the difference between day and night. What an amazing venue to practice diving.
Harbord - New South Wales
An open water dive site, accessed via a car park (be aware, it carries charges to park!), down either a driveway or set of steps, this is an amazing little place to explore – it seems to be a group of rocks, some reef and some bommies scattered across a sea floor. It’s important to make sure you’re sure of your bearings or, like me; you may find yourself swimming round and round in circles. Explore the area and see what you can find – there’s not an overabundance of wildlife here, but there’s lots of tiny creatures in the reef and in the shade of some of the boulders.
There is an average visibility of around 10 metres, maybe slightly more, but the area feels open and free, even if the visibility isn’t incredible.
You’ll find it’s easiest to exit in one of a few places, depending on the tide and your experience. I found it easier to swim back to where I entered, but other divers later recommended coming out at the channel off to one side – if it’s low tide, it might be quite a struggle, but it’s very calm in the channel and will give people with less experience the chance to get their gear off and get out of the water easier than maybe struggling back the way you came in.
Harbord - Harbord - New South Wales
We entered this dive site from the channel behind the pool – and exited in the same place, protecting ourselves as we didn’t see anywhere else that we considered we could exit safely from. This was one of the first dives I did since passing the open water diving classes, so I may have just been being extra cautious.
Once we entered the water, we could see lots of things – there’s rocks and boulders, small nooks and crannies and overhangs, all with things in and around them. I thought that I’d seen a lot at the last dive we’d done, but there was more here.
The funniest thing I saw was a (relative to their normal size!) massive puffer fish – I giggled for the whole of the rest of the swim because of it – I saw some red banded fish that I didn’t recognise, some white fish, some gorgeous bullseyes. Of course there was lots of blue groupers, and clown fish, a couple of swordfish, along with sea tulips, kelp and sponge. All in all, this was a dive I will always remember – I saw such a range of life and amazing things that I didn’t know what to do.
We struggled to find our way out, but found it eventually on one edge of the sand line, by some rocks and boulders. Once there, going up the channel, and climbing out where we entered was easy.
Some technical details – it’s obviously accessible from the shore, with a max depth of an easily workable 13 metres, and an average visibility of 10 metres.
Inscription Point – Kurnell - New South Wales
This open water dive is easily accessible from the shore and is in Botany Bay National Park. You’ll have to pay a fee per car to enter, but you can enter near the ‘Solander Park’ sign – it’s just right of that sign and easy to find.
With an average and max depth of 14 meters and a lowish visibility of 5 metres, this is a nice place to go for a snorkel, then later, to dive at. You can snorkel until you reach a sandy bar at about 15 metres or less, and then turn and follow the kelp line till you hit Inscription Point. It’s incredible.
The base itself is sandy, strewn with small boulders, pebbles and other screen material – with strands of kelp and other plant life. You’ll find some basket stars, and some shoals of fish out that far, but the best thing about it is the kelpie sea dragons! If you’re not sure what these are, they look like someone has crossed sea horses with kelp. They’re hard to spot in amongst the kelp lines themselves, but be persistent, as they’re well worth looking for. Other amazing sites include the very occasional shark – I’ve been diving only a few times in this region and only ever seen a shark once.
Kurnell Steps – Kurnell - New South Wales
An open water dive near Inscription Point, this is a pretty dive. You reach it by entering the National Park (again, be aware that there is a fee), and driving past a sign that says ‘Solange Park’ (where you stop for Inscription Point), and then head on till you see a car park just as the road bends right. Park up, and grab your kit, walking up a boarded sidewalk, and down some steps. The only caution is the stairs are steep going back, especially after a swim, so remember that when taking kit down with you. You enter the water near the steps, and snorkel or dive out, swimming along the floor strewn with pink and white boulders. This gorgeous backdrop shows up lots of kelpie sea dragons and other wildlife. There’s lots of fixed sea life, like sponges, and more to investigate once you’re down there, but you’re strongly advised to keep exploring the area beyond there – there’s lots to see. Visibility is good, at around 10 metres at a time.
There are dozens of nudibranches here, all different types, and at a max depth of 17 metres, this is a relatively easy dive to do – though it’s rated open water, when I was there, there wasn’t much of a current at all. Large and small sea horses hide around the area, along with the sea dragons, so there’s plenty to see.
The Leap to the Steps - Kurnell – New South Wales
This is an amazing dive which can only be documented in depth. You find it in Kurnell Park, which has clear directions throughout.
You shouldn’t be making this dive if you’re not experienced – as there’s quite a strong current. The first area you reach after diving in and swimming, maybe 50 metres, is an area filled with cuttlefish, eels, and sea dragons. Lots and lots of sea dragons. I was amazed at how many I saw. Keep swimming for a bit and you’ll see a sand line with something my dive instructor described as ‘the old wives’ (I think he meant the boulders) and you’ll see lots of small sponges, and in amongst them, you’ll probably find seahorses!
We saw a small cut out area, which was two metres or so wide, that is also ascendible, but we chose to stay out of there and swim up to the 15 metres or so in depth, and find a reef garden. It’s an amazing site, which can only be seen to be believed. There are lots of sponges, sea horses and more here – in fact the whole area seems richer and easier to see and find stuff as you go. Once you’ve gotten to here, you may want to turn around and head back or explore more. We turned around because our tanks were pretty low, but if you’re still looking at a good amount in your tank, keep going! The visibility isn’t bad at all, at around 10 metres, and the max depth you’ll reach is around 20 metres – it’s only rated advanced, according to the dive shop I spoke to because you have to be in the water 45 minutes before high tide and no later. Other reviews have suggested the same
Voo Doo - Kurnell - New South Wales
Voodoo can either be reached by boat, or from the shore, if you’re a strong swimmer. To get there from the shore you’ll need to swim through some pretty serious swell, and waves, so if you’re not a strong or confident swimmer, with or without your kit, take a boat and save your energy for exploring. This also means you’re not swimming back through potential surfers and other people out there – the boat is always the safest choice to reach this lovely dive spot.
Voo Doo itself makes for an interesting exploration – the dive site itself has an arch about the size of an average living room, making it quite a good place to find shoals of fish sheltering out of harm’s way. This area, colloquially called the ‘arch’ was pointed out by our tour guides as a spot of intense interest, and he was right. The visibility is amazing, upwards of 10 metres. And the variety of fish can be breath-taking – I counted 25 different types of fish while I was exploring, including Yellow fins, and sea pike – amongst the other ones I couldn’t identify. What really amazed me was the variety of fish swimming placidly around us – it was something else to be in the middle of a shoal that shot past.
Voo Doo North - Kurnell - New South Wales
Like Voo Doo, this dive has to be undertaken when it’s calm, or you’ll find it difficult to get in and out of the water, without damaging your equipment. You enter and exit on a flat platform that was clean and free of slippery sea life on my visits. Others have reported that its normally like this; clear of growth and easy to use to get in and out.
Also, like Voo Doo, the wildlife around this area is amazingly abundant. I was lucky enough to see some sharks on my last dive, along with shoals of fish escaping them, which shot past me like darts. It’s not an exciting dive, like Voo Doo, but there are some areas to explore and check out. Combined with Voo Doo, however, this could be quite an addendum to your trip.
Like other areas in the region, there’s lots to see and do while here – most of which is the same as the area surrounding it – there’s lots of smaller creatures on the sea floor too, giving a vast variety of stuff to see and examine while down there. One of the biggest positives with the area is it’s never quiet there, you’ll always see something when you visit.
Bare Island – La Perouse - New South Wales
WARNING! There are a lot of break-ins here at night – diving at night should be undertaken with that in mind. You can find this place by heading along Anzac Parade, to La Perouse. Head around in a loose circle, you should see Bare Island out at the heads. You can reach Bare Island by the wooden bridge from the mainland, though you don’t need to cross to go on a really relaxed and interesting dive. Enter instead on this side of the bridge and snorkel across the sand until the floor drops away.
There’s an amazing amount of sea life here – cuttlefish, sea horses and weedy sea dragons. If you’ve never seen a weedy sea dragon before, it’s an amazing sight. They look like moving scenery, but are actually very well camouflaged to hide in kelp. The weedy sea dragons have some sea horse features, but are bobbly and kelp shapes around the edges, making them stunning and amazing to see all at the same time. There are also nudibranchs, cuttlefish and more of the usual sea life around the area.
Alternatively, you can enter on the other side across the bridge, anywhere you can. We did that for our scouting and exploratory dive. We got onto the shore of the island, walked back towards the bridge, and then swam back out. There’s a lot to explore around the island, lots of nooks and crannies, and little places that hold some great wildlife to look at.
We found a nice area isolated from the currents around the island that was just a haven. I got lots of amazing shots of a small wildlife and vegetation tucked away in a dip in the edge of the island. The deepest we were about 19 metres, and the average visibility was about five or six metres.
Bare Island Pt.2 – La Perouse - New South Wales
Bare Island is a series of several dives that you can investigate – depending on what you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone.
You can reach the island itself via a wooden bridge – it may seem like it’s too far to walk with your kit, but it’s well worth it. Either diving in before or after the bridge, you can find lots of places to dive – though one of them is accessible only by boat.
The Bare Island Bommie is a gorgeous little dive, but our boat captain told us that the currents can sometimes get interesting (hence the Bommie), and to be careful. There wasn’t much to see down there – there’s lots of sponge, and growth, and life down there, but there wasn’t much life for me to see – for whatever reason it was pretty much deserted down there. The sponges were nice though, and I would visit again, if only to see if there was more life.
That was the dive we went on first and thoroughly enjoyed it. After that, we explored a reef towards Vince’s point, which is accessible from the shore. There’s an amazing amount of wildlife down here – I’ve been several times, though the area is pretty much unsullied by visiting divers, which is great because the weedy dragons haven’t been driven off from here. As they are a protected species, it’s important to respect their habitat and support the species in the area. You’ll also be able to get lots of shots of them - something I hadn’t managed at other sites because they were just too shy and didn’t come out of their hiding places. Along with the Weedy Sea Dragons, I encountered a lot of other wildlife there, including a massive shoal of blue groupers, which seemed more interested in us than anything else in the area.
Vinces Point - La Perouse - New South Wales
Watch your feet here – there’s broken glass and other items in the sand and channel – it’s difficult to see, so you should try to take crocs or something with you, just to walk out till you can swim – they’re easy to attach to a belt or something to make sure you’re safe while getting out to sea.
You’ll see a lot of kelp, coke cans and bottles and more – the tide seems to stop here and deposit some debris. Swim past that, south, there’s a kelp bed too, and then you’ll find a wall. That wall is at about 12 metres deep, but the visibility isn’t great – the wall tapers out at points, so keep an eye out for it – we think that most of the visibility problems were because it was raining while we were there.
We saw some sponge, and lots of fish hiding in cracks and nooks and crannies along with other macro wildlife, but one of the few things we did notice were there were dozens of boats in the area – it was really quite surprising that they were so nearby. So be careful where you’re swimming, you need to stay out of the areas that boats use, or you could get badly hurt.
The Apartments - Long Reef – New South Wales
The Apartments refers to a group of sites that are off the coast of Sydney, and make up a loose cluster of dive sites – the four main ones are ‘The Wall’, ‘The Cathedral’, The Gutter’ and ‘The Cave’. Each has its various attractions, and different things to see, which you’ll find in their separate reviews, but the best thing about all of them is the overabundance of things to see! This is an open water dive, possibly technical, and ranges in depth from 20 metres to 7 metres at the top of some walls. It’s important to remember that this is a group of sites, so that you plan your dive accordingly – you may want to spend some time exploring one area and come back to explore another area. There are plenty of dive companies that will take you here, so access itself isn’t a problem at all.
The visibility is great – up to 20 metres in open water and around the bases of a lot of the places you’re in, while inside The Cave, and the Cathedral, it may not be as clear.
I went along ‘The Gutter’ on my visit – I’m interested in sharks and other marine life and in there, I wasn’t disappointed – there was so much to see and do while down there that the time just flew by. A must see and a really must recommend for any diver.
The Wall - Long Reef - New South Wales
With an average depth of 18 metres this is a pretty neat open site dive, if you’re looking for something technical and interesting to do – but amazing if you’re looking for lots of fish and other things to look at. The two visits I’ve been here, the area was absolutely teeming with wildlife, from sea pike to Sergent Bakers, silver sweeps to some yellow fish I just didn’t recognise, which I’m still looking into. There were some fish that I spotted that I’m still trying to identify, but there were lots of different fish. I got to see my first cuttlefish on my first dive here – which was great.
With a maximum depth of somewhere over 20 metres, the wall itself has lots of nooks and crannies to explore – there are caves in the wall too, at one end, but the wall itself is interesting and has lots to look at. You could visit the caves (the Cathedral I think?) another time, but between the wall and the stuff growing on it, in the nooks and crannies and the area around the wall, there’s plenty to see – and the visibility is really quite good too.
Fly Point - Nelsons Bay - New South Wales
Fly point is one of my favourite dives! There’s only one way to describe this place – ever changing! You will not see the same things twice – day, or night, morning, afternoon or evening, you can snorkel and dive and enjoy the whole area, and should never get bored.
This is another slack water dive – if the tide is in or out, be warned, it’s fairly vicious out there – and you can get caught in rips. Accessible from the shore, day or night, you should check with people to find out about current tide patterns before you go, and always buddy up.
No matter what you’re interested in doing, you’ll find it at fly point. With a max depth of 20 metres, and an average visibility of 12 metres or so, you’re sure to be able to take your time, enjoy your dive and have a look around.
There is an amazing dive just off to the right of Fly Point itself, near the steps, where you can find all sorts of marine life, and creatures that you’ll always encounter off the edge of New South Wales. Or you can explore the ledges, covered in kelp and coral – almost like a set of steps; you can follow them down to the bottom or explore each ledge and wildlife appearing there.
I’ve even seen some kelpie sea dragons here – beautiful creatures that look like a cross between sea horses and seaweed and are incredibly rare.
Halifax - Nelsons Bay - New South Wales
An open water dive, this is a slack water only run, as the current is fairly strong when the tide is going in or out, and you could get injured. There is a variable level of things to see and do here – so you can come on a dive here if you’re experienced or just learning. As long as you’re not a beginner you’ll be fine here. With a max depth of 30 metres or so, and an average depth of just over half that (18 metres) it’s a nice dive to go on without pushing yourself. Also, as it’s a show up and throw yourself in the water type of site, it’s very busy during nice days and weekends – we saw 6 different groups while we were exploring, each with 10 to 15 divers, so be prepared for busy areas. If you go at night, however, it’s an amazing, peaceful, beautiful time.
If you’re not local, ask at a local diving store when
A bottom of bare rock, with growth after 10 metres of drop or so, sponges and Southern Coral are in abundance, with a massive fish life too – what amazed us was the difference between night and day – against the same backdrop, you can see some really neat stuff during the day, and then return at night to a different world.
South Palm Beach - Palm Beach, Sydney - New South Wales
Park at the very end of the road leading to here, at high tide you’ll be about 20 metres from the entrance point. Snorkel out for a little bit, till you start to see things you’re interested in, then dive down, taking care to ensure that you’re not going to collide with other divers. It’s an amazing open water site, with crystal clear visibility so don’t be surprised if you get a good look at some great things down there. There’s lots of vegetation and other stuff to examine and see if anything is hiding in there – I saw a couple of clown fish and a sea horse before I moved on further down.
Once you reach the bottom there’s a few small swim throughs – not many, so this isn’t a site that will take the whole day to explore, but still enough to make it worth your while – not many shoals of fish here when I dived, but I think that’s because the area was so busy. Choose your entry carefully, when it’s quieter and soak up the rays on the beach between times if you split your time in there – it’s a lovely venue all in all.
The Arch– Shellharbour - New South Wales
An amazing advanced dive, this is a great dive to do from a boat – it’s a bit far to swim in my opinion before diving, but that’s just a preference of mine. There are large walls in the area, and an arch (for which the dive is named) with a lovely sandy base, and lots of growth climbing up and over the walls and over your head – which gives you plenty to look at, without much effort. If looking at stuff above your head drives you up the wall, or makes you dizzy, there’s plenty to look at in the walls.
I saw lots of sponges, and at the max depth there was a bit of growth and lots of little things that would be interesting for a photographer. The visibility isn’t brilliant though, which is why you have to be fairly careful. It’s also pretty cold at certain times of the year, meaning that you need to pay attention to shifting currents – I found it colder than some of the other dives I’d been on, but having said that, we went on a cold, rainy day (we figured we were getting wet anyway!). I saw some giant cuttlefish, lobster and what might have been a couple of Eagle Rays, as well as some neat stuff nestled into the roof of the arch.
The Humps- Shellharbour - New South Wales
Accessible via the local dive shop, this dive has been rated advanced by other divers due to its depth and the current that you sometimes encounter when exploring. I’d agree with this recommendation – it’s not an easy dive to make, but is quite satisfying nonetheless. I was told the average depth down here was about 26 metres – I found it difficult to keep track of that while swimming around as the floor of the place was so uneven and filled with interesting nooks and crannies to look into. The max depth of 30 metres is about accurate. At the bottom you can sort of see the floor sloping up to meet the higher parts in tiny little jutting steps.
Like I said though, it’s hard to keep track of the depths, as there’s lots of rocks, mostly less than a metre in size, strewn all over the sea floor. These rocks make for great places to look around and under and shelter and hold a variety of sea life, such as sponges, sea horses and more. Amazingly the sea horses are fairly placid and don’t scatter when you get in close to look at them. Along with them, there is an abundance of fish life, making this a nice dive to spot stuff on.
Swansea BRIDGE – Swansea /Newcastle - New South Wales
Just off the entrance to Lake Macquaire, this open water dive with a shallow average depth of eight metres and max depth of 14 metres is quite a cool dive to go on. Visibility is pretty poor – and it’s very busy down there, which means it can be packed, and you’ll not really get to see much. It’s suitable day or night for a dive – but be warned that because of the visibility, you may collide with the older bridge pylons if the visibility is especially terrible.
There’s lots of sea life to see in here – but because of the visibility problems it may be difficult to locate anything reliably. There are lots of old pipes and a couple of old pylons to explore, but we found it difficult because of the number of people down there, coupled with the changing tides. This would not be and was not a great place to shoot any sorts of pictures, but there’s a nice little collection of wildlife and growth down here that makes it an ideal place to practice low visibility diving without having to artificially create conditions like that. It’s also not a very long dive overall, meaning you should maybe plan more dives in the area, especially if the place is too busy.
Foggy Shark Cave – Terrigal - New South Wales
Foggy Shark Cave is a lovely deep water dive of around an average of 36 metres. You travel out by boat and then scale down a mooring rope that lets you travel to the bottom of the dive area itself. At the bottom, there’s a nice sized cave, maybe 6metres, by 3 metres across – which is about 13 feet long. There are no side tunnels or anything serious to snag on – so you can swim in and out comfortably – but as it’s a deeper dive site, it is an advanced dive to attempt. Amazingly technical in places, it’s a good place to practice before a bump in certification, as it gives you opportunities to practice techniques, while enjoying the water.
Near another wreck, The Commonwealth, this dive is teeming with life – both plant and marine. You can see hammerheads and some other sharks, and they are surprisingly placid and calm most of the year – through April to November you may even see some shark cubs with nursing sharks. Alongside this backdrop are the ‘usual’ suspects – such as blue groupers and yellowtails if you’re lucky – they usually shoal outside the cave entrance. A great dive during the whole of the year, this is a popular site for divers of advanced ratings or above.
The Haven - Terrigal - New South Wales
This isn’t as far round as some of the other dive sites scattered around the edge and outskirts of Terrigal – you turn off for this one just before you reach the oval shaped area that leads you back round on yourself. Once you’ve found the site, it’s accessible like the others in the area, from the shore, where you have to snorkel for a while to get out to deep enough diving areas.
I found this was really quite tranquil, and enjoyed it every inch of the way – I snorkelled out till it was deep enough to dive, and then found a lovely patch of sea grass, of indeterminate length and width. There was so much to see, just hiding in that grass that I was there for nearly 20 mins! Nudibranchs and other amazing things, like sea horses and other little creatures. One review suggested this site would be great for the macro photographer and I have to agree – if the light is good, this is a great place to get some amazing shots!
Visibility isn’t brilliant in the area, with one person reporting the last time he was here that it dropped to 4 metres or so – and sometimes shoals of fish can apparently swim by overhead and block out the sun, which is an experience in itself. Overall though this is a nice open site dive, with a max depth of 14 metres, making it a nice site to use if you’ve just learned to dive recently and are upping your ratings.
The Skillion– Terrigal – New South Wales
This shore accessed site is most easily found by heading down into Terrigal and following the road that runs along the edge of the beach. You’ll encounter an oval, which seems to bring you all the way around to where you started but you should follow it – you’ll find a car park next to a rock ledge. Grab your gear, get ready and walk down to the ledge, where you can enter and exit with the usual precautions.
This is an open rated dive, with an average depth of 16 metres and average visibility. Once in the water, there are a series of step like shelves, dropping away towards the bottom of the ocean, making this a nice easy place to swim once you get use to the swell and the tides. There’s also a gorgeous swim through area called ‘The Cave’ which is, in effect, a valley that you can swim through. There was a lot of growth on the rocks and ledges and other areas giving lots of scope for areas you can check out and enjoy. The abundance of fish was amazing, with dozens of shoals of bullseyes and other fish flying around in the water. The energy and imagery was incredible, and something I’ll never forget. A must dive, and a must see while in Terrigal, this is an area that you should visit at all costs.
Sir John Young Banks – The Banks - New South Wales
This tech rated dive goes down to 70 metres, and is a massively great place to dive – I enjoyed every minute of it, even with the major current issues we encountered. That and the depth definitively place it in the region of a tech dive. I’ve never heard anyone complain and all the reviews I’ve read about this place tell me that it’s well worth investigating and diving again and again.
You get there by boat – it’s about 15kms off the Shoalhaven River, which makes it one of the further out dives I’ve been on. One of the more striking features of the dive itself is the plateau, approximately the size of two football pitches, which drops off in a series of inclined steps, right down to 70 metres, from the 18 metre deep plateau.
There are lots of fish and marine life to see here, Marlins, Kingfish, groupers right up to Whales and sharks, so you’ll be sure to spot something that you’ve never seen on another dive. And each of the ledges hold something interesting, along with the nooks and small crevices you’d expect to see on the way down. All in all a great dive, for the technical side, and an interesting dive for those that like marine life and exploring areas under the surface.
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