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Diving in Australia

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All Along the Coast in Sea and Ocean
Diver under the Busselton Jetty in Western Australia, copyright Tourism Western Australia

Diver under the Busselton Jetty in southwestern Western Australia north of Margaret River

© Tourism Western Australia

Diving and snorkeling in Australia are among the country's sea and ocean adventure attractions with various popular diving sites all around the continental coasts.

These diving sites include areas of reef in waters off the east and west coasts of Australia, shipwreck sites, and giant kelp forests. As well, there are diving adventures with sharks, whales and other creatures of the deep.

Queensland

Mostly, people think of Australia's Great Barrier Reef as the place to go for diving and snorkeling, particularly with its colorful coral formations and the tropical fish and other sea creatures that inhabit the reef.

Cairns in far north Queensland is often the destination of choice with its numerous Great Barrier Reef diving cruises. But all up and down the Queensland coast and the state's tropical islands are diving sites, some more popular than others but all offering underwater excursions in small or large groups.

All the intending diver has to do is ask. And the various visitor centres along the coast would be able to quickly provide information on diving sites, with or without guided diving cruises.

Aside from the Reef areas, other popular Queensland locations with diving sites include the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Hervey Bay and Bundaberg north of the Sunshine Coast.

Western Australia

Interestingly, while Queensland is generally thought of as the place for reef dives, the Western Australia coast on the other side of the continent is as much a place of colorful reefs.

Just west of Perth, for instance, is Rottnest Island where coral and underwater wrecks are diving attractions.

In Western Australia's Margaret River region of wines and surfing beaches, diving and snorkeling are as much popular activities as visiting the vineyards and riding the waves.

Along the curve of Geographe Bay, in Busselton at the northern end of the Margaret River region, the 1.8 kilometre wooden Busselton Jetty is a recreational centre with its jetty train and underwater observatory, and yes, go diving there among a forest of coral, fish and other underwater creatures.

West of Western Australia's Pilbara region, the World Heritage area of the Ningaloo Coast and the Ningaloo Reef, where you can swim with whale sharks, beckon.

As in Queensland and other Australian states, there are dive sites all along the coast. Esperance and Albany at the state's southern end are other popular Western Australia locations with dive sites.

New South Wales

Sydney itself, not usually thought of as a diving destination, and other New South Wales coastal locations feature various diving sites. These include World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island 500 kilometres east of Port Macquarie, Jervis Bay south of Sydney, and Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay in the north.

Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory

In Victoria, Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory at the state's southernmost tip, and Port Campbell along the Great Ocean Road are locations with popular diving sites. Tasmania has Bicheno, Port Davey, Maria Island and Freycinet, while the Northern Territory has Darwin and Gove Peninsula at the northeastern corner of Arnhem Land.

Diving certificate

As a rule, you will not be able to go scuba diving without a diving certificate. Dive operators in Australia will need to see your Certification Card or other qualification papers. Diving certificates are issued by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI) or acceptable equivalent organisations.

From the basics of scuba diving, diving instructions and certifications progress to several levels including deep sea diving.

Diving with sharks generally requires certified divers except in certain instances when taking place in an oceanarium. At Melbourne Aquarium, for instance, there are separate shark dives for non-certified and certified divers.

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