Scuba Diving on the Gold Coast, Australia
There are some fantastic Gold Coast scuba diving locations for experienced divers visiting this region. Beginner divers should check out introductory courses here.
The various reefs found in this part of the world are due mainly to the enormous Tweed shield volcano that existed 20-23 million years ago - and you may climb the remnants of this volcano, Mount Warning, today.
You'll find reefs suitable for Gold Coast scuba diving at Narrowneck, Palm Beach, Kirra, and Mermaid Beach, Cook Island, Nine Mile Reef, Kingscliff, and more.
These reefs, with their rocky outcrops, shelves, ledges, and occasional caves, have since become mini ecosystems teeming with a huge variety of marine life
which include turtles, rays, wobbegong and leopard sharks, colourful tropical fish, sponges, anemones, moray eels and octopus.
Three different shipwrecks also lie beneath the waters of this coastline - The Scottish Prince (sunk 1887); the Alberta (sunk 1890); and the Fido (sunk 1907).
Unfortunately, all three wrecks are now filled with sand and partially buried, which prevents divers from entering.
However, abundant marine life is attracted to the wrecks, and shellfish, corals and fish abound, making scuba diving in these areas a delight.
If you're particularly interested in shipwrecks, there's an abundance of shipwrecks for divers to inspect a little further north of the Gold Coast, off the east cost of Moreton Island.
From the early 1960's, at least 17 obsolete vessels (collectively known as the 'Tangalooma Wrecks') have been scuttled just off the Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island, to form a protective breakwater for small boats.
And a little further north of the Tangalooma Wrecks is the Curtin Artificial Reef, made up of more than 20 obsolete vessels, numerous cars, pontoons, concrete pipes and even an old Brisbane tram!
But back to Gold Coast scuba diving and the excellent dive sites along the Gold Coast and northern NSW coast that certified divers may explore...
Well-known diving sites include Wavebreak Island which is often used for diving students, the Gold Coast seaway, and the spectacular, highly rated Cook Island which is suitable for the more advanced diver.
The north head rock wall of the Tweed River is also suitable for experienced divers - although not recommended in outgoing tides since strong currents can quickly and easily pull unsuspecting divers out to sea!
Many of these scuba diving sites are close to the coast - which means traveling time is minimised and diving time is maximized!
The spin side is that most are heavily dependent on the right wind and weather conditions for good diving visibility.
For safety purposes, and to make for a smoother trip, we suggest you arrange to dive with an experienced local operator who knows the local conditions, and can determine where and when best to dive.
The beauty of this arrangement is that the operator will handle all the logistics of getting there - you just have to organise your equipment (although some operators will do this too!) and turn up. How easy is that?
Australian regulations require that you hold a current, open water scuba certificate, issued by an Australian or internationally accredited diving organisation.
By law, the dive operator must sight your card, and assess your diving competence prior to the first dive. So bring your scuba diving certification and logbook with you, if possible.
And if the idea of a shark encounter excites you?
Sea World offers a 60 minute shark SCUBA experience in Shark Bay's Reef Lagoon, which includes a 20 minutes swim with small reef sharks.
All diving equipment is provided, and you must present a current scuba diving certificate on arrival. Cost is ~ $100 per person.
Or, you could take the more daring shark feeding encounter option, which sees you enter a cage and feed the largest sharks in Sea World's Shark Bay.
The entire experience lasts ~ 120 minutes, with ~ 30 minutes in the water. Cost is ~ $150 per person. Again, you must present current scuba diving certification on arrival.
Some experiences to consider - especially if you have limited time available!
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Gold Coast Scuba Dive Operators, Gold Coast, Queensland:
Some reminders of the safety basics of scuba diving: