Scuba Diving Options on the Great Barrier Reef

You’ve all heard of the Great Barrier Reef, but let’s look at some statistics about how great it truly is: the world’s largest coral reef, it covers over 130,000 square miles with its 3,000 reefs and 900 islands, all stretching for 1,600 miles along the Queensland coast in north-eastern Australia. That’s an impressive bit of reef, so you can be sure there are some incredible scuba diving opportunities on the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver looking for a few new experiences, the Queensland coast has something for you. Here are a few of the best options for a scuba trip to the reef:

Learn to dive in the Whitsundays: If you want to begin your diving career, but at the same time explore the surrounds of the reef and the relaxing island resorts found on its southern end, try learning to dive in the Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsunday Scuba Centre offers dive courses in various locations as well as three-day live aboard dive cruises sailing from Airlie Beach to the Whitsundays.

Live aboard a dive boat off Cairns: You can find deals for between two days and a week where you can stay out at the reef and make multiple dives, rather than returning to Cairns each day to sleep. It’s cheaper, for a start, and seems to be a more authentic dive experience if you’re actually sleeping above the reef as well. Diving Cairns also offers learn-to-dive courses that include some live aboard time.

Dive on a wreck off Townsville: Pro Dive Townsville offers regular Great Barrier Reef dives as well as a special series of trips to the wreck of the SS Yongala. A luxury vessel that sank in a cyclone in 1911, it’s considered the best wreck dive in Australia; most of the ship is still intact and you can still see chairs, lights, bottles and even human remains.

Take a remote diving trip from Port Douglas: If you’re up for more adventure, you can try an expedition trip from Port Douglas, further north of Cairns. Expeditions with Undersea Explorer range from six to nine days in length and will take you further afield than a regular Cairns dive; for example, you might get to dive on the Osprey Reef with its dramatic 3,000 feet drop-offs or you can get closer to the Coral Sea and dive at Raine Island where you’ll see turtles and tiger sharks.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Leonard Low

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