PADI Scuba Diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
One of the world’s most famous reefs, the Great Barrier Reef offers something for every diver.
Off the northeast coast of Australia, you’ll find approachable and abundant marine life like moray eels, sea turtles and bumphead wrasse. If you’re lucky, you may also see some sharks in action, manta rays and even a weedy scorpionfish. You may also spot psychedelic neon pink, green and yellow giant clams.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a protected World Heritage Area comprised of 2900 reefs catering to many dive adventure:
• More than 600 islands & 300 coral cays spanning approximately 344,468 square kilometres/133,400 square miles
• More than 1500 fish, shark and ray species
• Over 400 coral species
• Approximately 30 whale and dolphin species
• Six sea turtle species
Whether you want to learn to scuba dive on vacation in Australia or you’re a veteran ready for full scuba adventures straight away, you’ll find tour operators to suit every need.
PADI Dive Shops and Resorts
Contact information for all the PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Australia.
Depth: 10-40 metres/ 30-120 feet
Visibility: 10-40 metres/ 30-120 feet
Current: Easy to Mild
Water Temp: 20°C / 68°F in winter up to 31°C / 90°F in summer.
Most Famous Dive Region
Name: Coral Sea
Average Depth: 20-40+ metres/60-120+ feet
Description: Past the Great Barrier Reef is the Coral Sea - a remote oceanic wilderness –185-278 kilometres/115-173 miles offshore where isolated pinnacles crested by low lying cays and atolls rise up from the sea floor. Featuring sheer walls plummeting into the depths, massive soft coral formations and underwater visibility reaching up to 91 metres/300 feet, ,Coral Sea destinations like Holmes, Bougainville, Shark and Osprey reefs are the stuff of diving dreams.
These reefs offering spectacular opportunities for underwater photographers in the form of large pelagic animals. Divers frequently encounter manta rays, huge barracuda schools, dogtooth tuna and huge shark congregations at some reefs.
Getting to the Dive Sites
Day boats cater to divers, nondivers and scuba diving families. On a fast day boat out of Cairns or Port Douglas, even the furthest outer edge reefs are only ninety minutes away.
But, to truly immerse yourself in the Great Barrier Reef’s more than 994,555 square kilometers/348,000 square miles, you should take a liveaboard vessel to spend several days and nights exploring.
Dive Season: During the winter from May to August, colder water can offer great visibility and beautifully clear days, but the wind is sometimes a concern. The water warms up beginning in September and through December, divers can expect excellent conditions with good visibility, clear skies and light winds. January through April is the wet season and features amazing feeding action following the breeding season.
In Australia’s tropical north, there are two seasons – the green and the dry. The green – a period with high humidity and rain interspersed with clear, hot days. Although cyclones do sometimes strike during the green, the area’s tourism industry is well prepared for the possibility. The dry season brings mostly clear, mild days – a balmy 24°C / 75°F average maximum temperature.
Skill level: What kind of scuba diving experience do I need? Generally, Great Barrier Reef’s conservative depths, warm water and fantastic visibility means diving is suitable for all experience levels. However conditions in the Coral Sea require experience and frequently dive guide assistance. Check with your tour operator and, if you want to prepare, sign up for the Advanced Open Water course online right now.
Will I be led by a divemaster? Divemasters do not normally lead scuba divers in Austraila but many dive centers and resorts will provide this serveice for a small additional fee.
What about Snorkelling? The Great Barrier Reef is a great place for snorkeling and provides numerous opportunities for nondivers.
Do I need to bring my certification card? Yes, you will need to present your certification card.
Do I need a dive medical? Certified divers generally do not require a diving medical certificate. Some dive tour operators will request one if if you have a medical history contraindicative to diving.
What about rental gear? Nearly all dive centers and resorts offer full gear hire – including dive computers.
What is the recommended weight wetsuit? Anything between a dive skin and a 3.0 millimetre-/0.12 inch-thick wet suit is appropriate for the summer months while a 5.0 millimetre-/.20-inch wet suit is usually sufficient during the winter.
What is the standard tank fitting? K-Valve.
What about diver safety?With generally benign dive conditions – including warm, clear water – and rigid governmental safety standards, the accident rate is low.
Does my travel insurance cover me while scuba diving? Many insurance companies don’t cover scuba diving or snorkelling so you should carefully check your policy. Divers Alert Network (DAN) www.diversalertnetwork.org and Dive Assure www.diveassure.com offer comprehensive insurance packages.
Recommended Courses: If you are thinking about learning to dive or maybe looking to further your diving qualifications, Cairns and Port Douglas offer a range of PADI Dive Centres and Resorts in Cairns or Port Douglas can teach you to dive with open water courses , further your dive qualifications or become a scuba instructor.
Cairns - in Queensland’s north - is Australia’s gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also a departure point for the outback and Cape York Peninsula. Besides heading out on a dive boat, you’ll find a variety of activities in and around Cairns:
• Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway through the tropical rain forest and mountains
• Ride a skyrail cable car over the Barron Gorge National Park
• Go whitewater rafting
• Tour the Great Barrier Reef by helicopter
• Take a hot air balloon ride
• Enjoy the outdoors with al fresco dining
• Revel in exciting nightlife and entertainment
• Splash in the 3716 square metre/40,000 square foot swimming lagoon, ideal for small children and families
• Learn about Aboriginal culture
• Discover Aboriginal festivals, ancient rock art sites, ancestral paintings and ochre body paintings
• Get your thrill fix with A.J. Hacketts’ Bungy Jumping experience!
• Visit Palm Cove, which combines seaside village charm award-winning spas
Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
Tipping: Tipping isn’t mandatory or even expected, but it is appreciated. A good tip in a is about 10 percent while, In bars and taxis, people frequently leave the extra change from their service.The practice is uncommon and most Australians also strongly discourage tipping in hotels and other service industries such as hair salons. Tipping is, however, customary for scuba diving staff around the world. You can very your tip based on service quality, but a good rule of thumb is to tip $5-$10 US per tank, per diver.
Do I need a visa to enter Australia? Yes, you will need a current passport and visa to visit Australia.Go to the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship for information (http://www.immi.gov.au/).
What currency can I use in Australia? The Australian Dollar is the only currency accepted in Australia. But, you can use most major international credit cards travelers’ checks r credit card is encoded with aand automatic teller machines (ATMs).
How far is the airport from Cairns? Cairns airport is approximately 10 minutes by taxi from the city centre. The fare will cost around $15 AU.
What types of accommodation are available? You can find a wide variety of accommodations from five star hotels to holiday parks and budget accommodations.
Will I need a power adaptor? Australian electricity is 240V at 50htz and power points use Type I three prong connections. You should check if your electrical appliances require a power adapter or converter.
Want to know more? Visit scubaearth.com for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.
Want to go there? Locate A PADI Dive Shop on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.