Scuba Destinations


South Australia

Dive in the deep with South Australia’s dolphins and dragons . . .

The southern central part of Australia (click for the map), the state of South Australia is known for its many contrasts. The southern portion of the state is pastoral but, as you drive north, it becomes progressively drier and more barren until it becomes arid desert (aka. ‘the outback’). It is the driest of the Australian states with around 80% of the state being classified as outback.

South Australia has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters and offers clean temperate water diving in the Southern Ocean. The waters around South Australia are among the most biologically diverse in the world and are home to many reefs, jetties and wrecks to explore for both beginner and advanced divers.

Well over 800 ships have been wrecked along South Australia’s coastline, including passenger, cargo, whaling and fishing vessels. The majority of the accidents occurred between 1865 and 1910. One of Australia’s best known wrecks, however, is the 1965 Ex-HMAS Hobart. ‘The Green Ghost’ as she is affectionately known for her reputation as quiet vessel during 3 tours of duty in Vietnam, is a purposely sunk Destroyer, lying in approximately 30m of water. Due to the many deck levels the wreck lends itself perfectly for multilevel diving.

As South Australia’s marine emblem, the (leafy) sea dragon is one of the most elusive underwater creatures you’ll ever get the chance to see. Though close relatives of sea horses, sea dragons have larger bodies (up to 40 cm.) and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds. One of the premier sites to spot them is the Rapid Bay Jetty, which is a haven for divers with its purpose built platform. Another great place to go for leafies is Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and is accessible by ferry from Cape Jervis (1.5 hours drive south of Adelaide) and by plane. This is one of Australia’s best places to dive with sea lions and sea dragons and is home to over 50 (recorded) shipwrecks. Make sure to check out the dolphins alongside the boat when you’re out there, or spot them underwater, if you’re lucky.

Besides to all the above-mentioned beauty, South Australia’s well-lit surfaces are home to (fur) seals, giant cuttlefish (Whyalla’s main attraction), wobbegongs, nudibranches, the sand octopus, blue devilfish, eastern blue gropers, cowfish and the Port Jackson shark, just to name a few.

What to see:
  • The Ex-HMAS Hobart, a 1965 guided missile destroyer, which was scuttled in November 2002 at Yankalilla Bay after three tours to Vietnam.
  • The spectacular annual migration of hundreds of thousands of Australian Giant Cuttlefish to the rocky coastline of Whyalla every year between May and September. Take a tour to Whyalla with one of Adelaide’s dive shops or contact Whyalla Diving Services.
  • The Port Noarlunga Reef is South Australia’s best known aquatic reserve, with twelve underwater trail markers (with interpretative plaques) and easy access from the jetty. Easily accessible by train from Adelaide’s CBD, The Dive Shack is located right at the start of the Port Noarlunga jetty to take you on a tour.
  • Spot the elusive (leafy) sea dragons at Kangaroo Island or the Rapid Bay Jetty.
  • Dive with sea lions at Kangaroo Island or Victor Harbor.
Need to know:

  • The Ex-HMAS Hobart is situated in a marine protected area. It is a requirement that all divers obtain a dive permit before entering the protected area.
  • As South Australia is one of the places in the world where white pointers are regularly spotted close to shore, it is highly recommended to dive with a Shark Shield or dive with a guide that’s wearing one.
  • In Australia, one must have a recreational scuba diving medical to Australian Standard 4005.1 2000 (AS4005.1 2000)

Useful stuff:
Language: English
Currency: Australian $
Time: GMT +9.5
Climate: Temperate
Natural hazards: Bushfires
Diving season: Year round
Water temperature: 23°C/73°F (Jan/Feb)
15°C/59°F (August/Sept)
Air temperature: 30°C/86°F (January)
15°C/59°F (July)

© Ron van der Marel

Australasia - South Australia: Latest User Reviews

Great White Sharks  Princess II - Rodney Fox Expeditions, Australasia 5 Star Rating Added: 6th September 2011 by JayneJ
Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions run 4 night trips to the Neptune Islands in South Australia. They are the only boat that offers a "bottom Cage" . This is great for all photographers as it gives you the best viewing. The crew, food and accommodation are all excellent and the sharks...
Amazing - Now this is a must do 'Bucket List' entry  Princess II - Rodney Fox Expeditions, Australasia 5 Star Rating Added: 27th August 2011 by DiverSam
Let me start by saying that like most kids born in the 70's I grew up fearing sharks. After all Jaws was huge for us 70's kids. This has grown over the years to a passion for sharks and shark photography. This passion has led me to travel around the...
Leafy Sea Dragons everytime  Divers Delight, South Australia 5 Star Rating Added: 22nd May 2011 by scottn
The guides these guys use are great at spotting these amazing creatures. I would totally recommend them. Leafy Seadragons are awesome and I now have photos and memories of them that will last a lifetime. Management Response from Divers Delight: Thanks for the positive review, we really go out of our way...
Awesome!!!  Princess II - Rodney Fox Expeditions, Australasia 5 Star Rating Added: 19th January 2011 by Accipitor
Andrew (son of Rodney) runs the Princess II out of Port Lincoln. He is probably the foremost expert on Great White Sharks and is a large, humble and genuinely nice man. He is supported by the multi talented Jennifer who is divemaster, videographer, waitress and miss fixit. The boat is...
Open water course review  Snorkel Safari Adelaide, South Australia 5 Star Rating Added: 2nd November 2010 by Georgia
Learning to scuba dive was really fun and exciting. The dive shack team were amazing and I felt really comfortable and safe in the water with the instructors. I am very happy that I now have my scuba licesnse and the dives gave me many great and memorable experiences. The...
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