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. Tugboat Wreck at Moreton Island – Great for Scuba Diving, Queensland

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. Eagle Ray and Scuba Diver, Queensland

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:

Scuba Operators Telephone Introductory & Certification Courses Recreational Diving Comments
Devocean Dive 07-5528 0655 or 0408 460 655 tick tick  
Diving The Gold Coast 0415 666 457   tick  
Evolution Ocean Scuba 07-5537 5712 tick   Doesn't organise recreational diving, however certified divers can accompany beginners; Shore diving only
Fingal Dive Charters 0418 711 659   tick  
Gold Coast Dive Centre 07-5532 8088 tick tick  
Kirra Dive 07-5536 6622 tick tick  
Mostly Diving Services 0411 512 980 tick tick  
Ocean Dive & Photographics 0418 750 084 tick tick  
Palm Beach Dive Centre 07-5598 2638 tick tick  
Queensland Scuba Diving Training Centre 07-5526 7722 tick   Doesn’t organise recreational diving, however certified divers can accompany beginners (one dive only)
Scuba Steve's Diving Adventures 0407 635 708 tick tick  
Surfers Paradise Divers 07-5591 7117 tick tick Japanese language only
Tweed Seasports 07-5524 3683 tick tick  
Table updated as at Sept 2009

$140-$170 per person.
- This includes two dives, and all equipment.
- Cost may include morning tea or BBQ lunch - check with operators when booking.
Vary across operators and locations; check with operator.
Wet Weather
Does not operate in heavy rain, or following heavy rain, as visibility is often poor.
Operating Hours
All year round, weather and visibility permitting.
Half to full day.
Handy Hints
- Have a good sleep the night before so you're alert and well-rested.
- Ensure you have your dive certificates, and bring your logbook too, if you can.
- If you're taking any medication, beware of side effects that may affect your dive.
- To avoid decompression sickness, you should wait at least 24 hours after diving before flying in pressurised aircraft.
- If you have any concerns about your health with respect to diving, check with a doctor with good knowledge of hyperbaric medicine.
How To Get There
- Some dive operators will arrange pick-ups from and drop-offs to your Gold Coast accommodation.
- Departure locations may change from time to time - check with individual operators.
Further Info

Minimising Risks:

Some reminders of the safety basics of scuba diving:

  • If you don't know the local area or conditions, hire a professional dive operator.
  • If you are newly certified, or it's been a while since your last dive, hire a dive operator for a few dives. With a professional at the helm to handle the logistics of getting there, you can focus on the dive.
  • Check all scuba equipment is in good working order 1-2 days before your dive, so you have time to get anything fixed if needed.
  • And it's a good idea to do one last quick equipment check before your dive.
  • Retain responsibility for your own safety - ask your dive operator's plan for handling emergencies, in terms of oxygen, marine stings, and radio communications.
  • Know how to operate the radio, and ensure it's in working order, whenever you dive. Make sure the appropriate radio codes for Sea Air Rescue are known and written down.
  • Don't attempt new experiences, such as cave diving, unless you've been trained, and have the appropriate equipment.
  • If a dive plan is beyond your experience, say so. If it's not modified, sit it out. Better to experience the disappointment of missing a dive, than to experience premature death!
  • Carry a compass to avoid getting lost in currents.
  • Always keep an eye on your oxygen gauge, and aim to end your dive with ~ 500 psi in your tank (this allows a buffer in case your ascent is delayed).

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