Scuba Diving is the most spectacular way to see the reef. There's just nothing like swimming through a school of iridescent fish or observing the beauty of a turtle glide by you 20 metres underwater.
Newcomers can try a fully supervised introductory dive or take an open water course to achieve your first qualification. Experienced divers can enjoy specialist diving experiences such as expedition or night diving.
An introductory or resort dive can be done on shore or on board a reef day trip or extended cruise, and whilst it does not result in any actual qualification, it is a great way to find out if scuba diving is for you before committing time and money to getting an Open Water Certification.
Instruction usually begins with potential divers completing a simple medical questionnaire to ascertain your fitness to participate. Following this is a briefing that goes through the basics of dive equipment, what to do and what you'll see. The instructor will then take you through skills such as how to clear your mask of water, the correct way to breath and use fins, how to enter the water and safety signals. Then its time to enter the pool or the sea, practice the skills you have learnt and if you're in the ocean, follow your instructor through a personalised tour of the reef.
These dives are supervised at all times by qualified instructors who are able to guide first-time divers to depths around 10 metres. Visit the dive & snorkel safety page for more information.
Queensland's world-class dive sites are matched by world-class diver training ranging from Open Water Certification through to specialty dive courses and professional qualifications.
An Open Water course is generally the first qualification recommended. It is a theoretical and practical course run over approximately four days. Students learn about the physiology of diving and gain basic recreational dive skills in a controlled swimming pool environment. Once comfortable with the drills, the course moves out to the warm blue waters of the ocean or reef.
Completing this course will allow divers to undertake multiple dives in one day in open water up to a recommended depth of 18m and the qualification remains current for life. If your time is limited, one way of squeezing the most from your holiday is to undertake a Referral Dive Course - completing the theory in your local area or home country with a compatible dive training organisation and the practical course component whilst on holiday in Queensland. Check with your dive operator about the availability of referral dive options well in advance.
For serious divers, there are longer expeditions and live-aboard tours heading to the outer reefs and islands. This is the best way to experience the highest quality range of diving sites on offer. Trips can last from three to 7 days and many operate out of Cairns or Port Douglas. Check out these dive tour operators in Tropical North Queensland.
There are many high-quality dive experiences on the outer reefs of Queensland that are perfect for certified divers. The coral bommies, water quality and fish life are some of the best in the world. In Queensland, certified divers need a current certification card and a current log book before being eligible to dive. Most Australian dive operators are affiliated with PADI or SSI but qualifications from all major international diver training organisations are generally recognised.
You'll find more shipwrecks off Queensland than anywhere else in Australia. Hundreds of ships met their fate off the coast and many others were sunk to form intriguing artificial reefs shrouded with coral and teeming with vibrant fish and curious marine life. World class shipwreck diving sites include the SS Yongala near Townsville, the RMS Quetta and the HMAS Warrnambool, both off the coast of Cape York, and the Ex HMAS Brisbane in the depths off the Sunshine Coast. More wreck locations.
If you love the reef by day, it's a whole new world of discovery at night! Even experienced divers are amazed at how different a site looks and feels by night. Viewing coral at night with a white light brings out their colours better than in sunlight. In the Coral Sea keep a lookout for rare glowing flashlight fish as they swim in and out of the reef's protection. Coral Spawning in the Great Barrier Reef takes place on a full moon in October/November, making it a most spectacular night to dive.