Amongst novice divers, there is certainly a perception that diving on the Great Barrier Reef (“GBR”) is world class. Certainly ask any backpacker about their travel plans and diving on the GBR will no doubt feature heavily on their wish list. Amongst more experienced divers, opinions are certainly more mixed. The amount of times I have heard comments such as “the diving on the Great Barrier Reef is not as good as the diving in such a place” is quite alarming.
So how does the GBR stack up against the great dive sites of the world and is it really world class?
Well, before we go too far, let us first set the scene a little. Imagine we have one buddy team, a boat and all the gear you need for a SCUBA adventure. Then, immerse the pair into the World Heritage Listed GBR, an area that encompasses almost 350,000 square kilometres from Australia’s most northerly point of Cape York to Bundaberg in South Queensland. That’s an area that is bigger than Great Britain and Ireland combined. Add into the mix around 2,900 reefs, up to 15 million years of evolution, and biodiversity that incorporates 20,000 animal and plant species with new previously undescribed species still being found. Think about reefs that have been intensively dived and snorkelled each day for decades, then consider the number of reefs that have never even been dived before. Think about environmental factors that incorporate extreme conditions ranging from picture perfect to cyclonic, agricultural run off, localised bleaching and Crown of Thorn invasions and you start to get the picture.
What I am trying to say here, in a nutshell is that it is impossible to compare the GBR to a single location. It is like comparing the closure of your local corner shop to the ENRON collapse.
So can I find world class diving on the GBR? The short answer is yes, of course you can. It is not called the GREAT Barrier Reef for no reason! With a small amount of research, you will certainly not be disappointed with what is out there. With just a few quick pointers DiveBuzz will set you well on the way to finding your dream dive.
There are countless locations to dive the GBR from, be it island based or from the mainland. Cairns is the busiest diving location servicing the GBR and offers a good selection of trips for both for the novice through to the experienced diver. There are a number of day trips and extended liveaboard trips to choose from. As a general rule, the reefs that are furthest away from the mainland offer healthier reefs and often better visibility than those closer to shore, so bear this in mind and get a trip that visits the outer reefs.
For really world class diving, you will need to consider an extended liveaboard trip up to The Ribbon Reefs where dive sites include the famous Cod Hole, Steve’s Bommie, Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Pinnacle and many, many more. During the months of June through to July each year expect to have some close interactions with Dwarf Minke Whales who migrate here each year at this time. Snorkelling with these magnificent beasts is a truly life changing moment.
Even further a field, and indeed beyond the GBR, lies the magical Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea. This submerged atoll roughly oval in shape, measuring 25km by 12km with lagoon up to 30m deep, offers superior visibility due to its remote location and 1000m drop-offs. 50m vis is not uncommon here! World-class wall diving, giant gorgonian sea fans, excellent macro plus lots of big animal interactions for the adrenalin junkie. The world famous shark feed at North Horn is a must do on any serious diver’s ‘to do’ list. Sadly, there are not many places in the world where you can go and reliably experience up to 30 to 40 reef sharks on a single dive. But you can at Osprey Reef.
Other areas of note are Heron Island, Lady Elliott Island and Lady Musgrave island in the Southern GBR, the world famous SS Yongala wreck off Townsville, and Lizard Island in the north. There are now also opportunities to join extended expeditions to the remote Far Northern reefs and wrecks off Cape York and the rarely visited the green turtle hatchery of Raine Island in the far north. So what are you waiting for, go get your DiveBuzz on the Great Barrier Reef now!
What is your favourite dive location on the Great Barrier Reef? Let us know.