Scuba Destinations


New South Wales

Scuba diving in New South Wales, Australia, Sydney Harbour diving . . .
Scuba diving in New South Wales is very diverse as it has the best of both tropical and temperate marine life at places such as the Solitary Islands off the northern coast and at Byron Bay. 

The diving here is somewhat overshadowed by Queensland to the north. However, there are several dive destinations along the coast that are more than worth a visit.  As you travel south in New South Wales you move into more temperate waters and will need to be prepared for cooler water temperatures. Water at and below Sydney's latitude ranges between 22C (71F) in summer to 13C (55F) in winter. Divers will typically wear at least 5mm wetsuits in summer and and add hoods and vests in winter or will use semi-dry or drysuits.

Amazingly, there's diving in Sydney harbour, despite its heavy commercial use. There are several sites within the harbour, mainly inside the north and south heads.  Most operators leave from Manly or Balmoral. There's good shore diving from Bare Island off La Perouse and at the tidal Shiprock site at Port Hacking. Visibility near Sydney is usually 5-15 metres. Soft coral lives even inside the harbour and Port Jackson sharks are relatively common.

The excellent diving in Byron Bay is starting to become a contender to the best Queensland can offer.  The waters have a mix of tropical and temperate species. In addition the water temperature goes as high as 27C/81F and the visibility is on average around 15m.  The sites are well managed and over-diving isn't taking place. Dolphin sightings are common on boat trips and whale sightings regular between May and October.

The Solitary Islands Marine Park off Coffs Harbour has both tropical and subtropical marine life.  Notables are grey nurse sharks, hard and soft coral, anemone fish, and colourful wrasse.  Seeing large rays is unusual but not unheard of.  Visibility is between 10 and 20 metres, and most of the interesting diving is shallower than 20 metres. Water temperature may be up to 25C in summer.

New South Wales (NSW) is Australia's most populated state, located in the south-east of the country, north of Victoria and south of Queensland.  Click for the map.  

What to see:
  • Manly Beach (off Sydney) for the chance to dive with Southern Right whales.
  • The Magic Point site off Maroubra is a grey nurse shark sanctuary: during the day you can see a number of sharks sleeping in their cave.
  • Gordon's Bay has an underwater nature trail, depth 10-15 meters, marked a chain, access from Clovelly parking lot, where you can find a map with explanations.
Need to know:
  • Sydney is primarily a local dive scene.  Many smaller operators only have rubber dinghies and some do not provide much in the way of dive site briefings.  Check before hand as not all operators hire out masks, snorkels or fins. Ask the operator about the level of experience they cater for when booking.
  • There are a number of wrecks off-shore that are regularly dived, but most are in 45 meters (150 feet) or more of water and require technical training for that depth.
  • In Australia, you must have a Recreational scuba diving medical to Australian Standard 4005.1 2000 (AS4005.1 2000).  The South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society lists doctors who have completed a Diving Medical Course and will be able to perform these Medicals. Medicals incur a fee which you pay directly to the doctor.
Useful stuff:
Language: English
Currency: Australian $
Time: GMT +10
Climate: Temperate
Diving season: Year round
Water temperature: 8-28C
Air temperature: 15-35C

Australasia - New South Wales: Latest User Reviews

Terrible Customer Service  Aquatic Explorers, New South Wales 1 Star Rating Added: 30th July 2014 by MaxQ1
I completed a course here this year (2014). The organisation was absolutely disgraceful. Time wasting and chaotic were words I would choose to describe this place. Very unprofessional, it was all about meeting the needs of the owners, not the customers. The usual story, once they have your money don't expect...
Professional and fun  Fish Rock Dive Centre, New South Wales 5 Star Rating Added: 29th April 2013 by nickc744
John and his team run a wonderful operation. Based in two old squash courts that have been revamped, their facilities are good but it is the personal touch that makes the Fish Rock Dive Centre worth seeking out. From the cheery greeting when you walk in to the fond farewell, sometimes...
Ready and waiting  Forster Dive Centre, New South Wales 1 Star Rating Added: 29th October 2012 by Crispytip
You call up you book on and get ready to dive, you prepare yourself with excitement. You wake the morning of the dive and wait to be picked up only to get a call telling you its off because of numbers. Your not important enough. You then try the next...
Don't bother  Dive Forster at Fisherman's Wharf, New South Wales 1 Star Rating Added: 29th October 2012 by Crispytip
There is nothing worse than a beautiful day and no one to dive with. These guys advertise that they dive everyday but I tried everyday for 3 days with not a breath of wind and flat seas. But no diving. All I can say is if you contact these guys...
Fastest Boat by Far  Banana Coast Divers, New South Wales 4 Star Rating Added: 1st July 2012 by Taezar
There are a couple of choices for diving out of Coffs to enjoy the amazing diving of the South Solitary Islands (Split was my favourite site by far). This location is a fantastic day stop if you are heading down to Sydney from Brisbane or the reverse though to really...
Zero Customer Service/ Zero Communication  Terrigal Dive Centre, Australasia 1 Star Rating Added: 25th March 2012 by ScubaDoctor
I booked my course 3 months in advance. I received no phone calls leading up to the start of the course. There was no pre-course reading available. I called the dive centre x3 times and emailed them x2 times to attempt to confirm course as I had not heard from...
Go there!!!  South West Rocks Dive Centre, Australasia 4 Star Rating Added: 10th August 2011 by JobIlona
Not knowing what to expect of the vizability after Yasi had been doing some nasty stuff we went to SWR to see the raggies... AND WE DID!!! Good diving, good boat and good crew. We are still thankfull for finding our camera back and hope you enjoyed the "thank-you-chiken" ;oD !!! I...
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