I have been scuba diving for about three years now, and I’ve been lucky enough to dive in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is certainly one of the most exciting places I have gone scuba diving. It’s the largest coral reef system in the world, supporting a diverse array of life. And, I mean, it’s the Great Barrier Reef!
I was only able to explore a small portion of the reef system, but it was incredible. I dived with Blue Dive based in Port Douglas. I chose to dive from Port Douglas, because the reef is generally considered most spectacular in the northern region of the coral system. There are several diving companies that visit the reef from Cairns as well, but I recommend diving from Port Douglas. The town itself is nicer and you’ll spend less time being transported to and from the dive sites.
Diving with Blue Dive
My father and I went on a day trip with Blue Dive. The trip included morning tea, a buffet lunch, three dives, all equipment and a dive guide. The boat takes divers and snorkelers, which was great for us, because I wanted to dive and my dad wanted to snorkel. Blue Dive has two ships that take day trips to different parts of the outer Great Barrier Reef: Poseidon, which visits the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs; and Calypso, which goes to the Opal Reef Complex.
We chose to go out to the reef on Poseidon. I dove at three spots on the Agincourt Reef: The Point; Helms Deep; and Barracuda Bommie. All of the dives were beautiful and teeming with a range of marine life. I saw grey reef sharks, sweetlips, clown triggerfish and lagoon rays.
While I enjoyed the three dives and got to see multiple sites on the reef, the ideal way to see the Great Barrier Reef is to join a live aboard diving trip and spend several days diving. This allows you to go further north and get to some of the best diving spots on the reef. And you get to enjoy several more dives. But it is pricey and time consuming. So you’ll have to strike a balance between your budget, time and what you want to see while diving the Great Barrier Reef.
Top Diving Sites
While there are many beautiful dive sites along the length of the Great Barrier Reef, some do outrank others. I recommend looking at what types of sea life you’ll see at each dive spot and choose the one that best suits your preference. Do you like wreck dives? Do you prefer macro or micro creatures? And be sure to note if you can dive at the different sites. Do you have the required certification for the dive?
Some of the most notable dive sites in the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef include: Osprey Reef, which has great visibility and shark feeds; Cod Hole, where you can take a picture with a huge potato cod; and Steve’s Bommie, which is a pinnacle with a variety of marine life.
There are other great sites along the reef further south. SS Yongala near Townsville is a capsized steamer that is home to a large variety of sea creatures, including bull sharks, turtles and barracudas. Lady Elliot Island has great visibility and is home to manta rays. Wolf Rock features volcanic pinnacles, grey nurse sharks and rays. Flinders Reef has a large array of tropical fish, turtles and leopard sharks.
The Great Barrier Reef can be dived at any point in the year, but the best time is from mid-August to mid-December. But whale season is typically from May or June through August or November.
Stinger Season is from October to May. During this time, jellyfish are much more prevalent along Queensland’s coast. It’s still safe to dive, but there is a bit more risk involved than at other points in the year. And you’ll have a Lycra suit to wear in addition to your dive gear to help provide protection.
There is generally an environmental fee imposed on each visitor to the Great Barrier Reef. It is only a few dollars, but may or may not be included with your diving package. So just be sure to check with your dive company.
What are some of your favorite dive sites in the world?