The Tweed River is one of the rare shore dives near Brisbane. Although there are a few important things to know to dive Tweed Heads, it’s an easy dive to organise. I would not put the Tweed River as a bucket list dive in Australia, but I’d still recommend it to locals. This dive is a real bargain in a country where scuba diving can get very expensive, and a good opportunity to build-up experience and see marine life.
I’ve had mixed experiences in the Tweed River so I’m glad I gave it another chance after a couple of dives with poor visibility. On a good day, it is a real pleasure to dive Tweed Heads. How to find a good day to dive Tweed Heads? And what’s to see there? If you’re thinking of diving the Tweed River, you’ll find a few useful tips in this article, and a map at the end.
A shore dive isn’t only good budget-wise. It’s also easier to organise, as you can simply drive to the site. A dive at Tweed Heads can be the opportunity to share the day with non-divers. They can spend time in the park or at the beach while you’re underwater, and then you can all have a picnic together while your gear is drying! After the dive, you may want to explore the region. I personally like the short walk at Fingal Head but if you don’t want to go that far, Snapper Rocks and Coolangatta are great too.
If you’ve got time and budget and looking for more adventures, there are a few reef dives not far from Tweed Heads, such as Cook Island and Nine-Mile Reef. But you’ll need a boat to get there.
The best time to dive Tweed Heads
This article is by no mean replacing a dive plan. Things change and conditions are different every day. These tips are here to help but don’t entirely rely on them to plan your dive.
The best time of the day to dive Tweed Heads is at high tide. The water has been coming from the ocean so it gives you higher chances of having a good visibility (don’t expect more than 10 m though).
The mouth of the Tweed River is also subject to currents so aiming for slack time is the best for safety. There’ll still be current, which makes the Tweed River a good drift dive.
Be careful when you look at the high tide time at Tweed Heads.
If you’re coming from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, there may be a time difference. Tweed Heads is at the limit of Queensland but in New South Wales. During daylight saving, there’s a time difference between the two states (NSW is one-hour ahead).
When not to dive Tweed Heads
Generally, rain greatly affects the visibility of the Tweed River. So if it has rained in the few days before the dive, don’t expect great visibility. Once, I was diving there for training purposes and could hardly see my own hand!
Things to be aware of to dive the Tweed River safely
The Tweed River is a popular site for training, and it’s not among the dangerous scuba diving sites. However, there are still things to be aware of to be safer. This is a non-exhaustive list.
The Tweed River is a busy channel used by many boats. So make sure you stick to the side and do not surface in the middle of the river – there’s nothing to see there anyway.
Stonefish and wobbegongs sharks live there, so be careful if you get close to the ground or decide to hold onto it. There are also a few algae that can irritate your skin. You may want to add to your equipment gloves to protect your hands and a metal stick* to help you stabilise in the current. But the best is to remember to avoid touching the rocks as you may damage the environment.
If you’re an experienced diver, you’ll complete the drift dive before reaching 50 bars. The dive is rather shallow, with a maximum depth of 15 meters. By sticking to the rocks, our maximum depth was 9 meters and our average depth was close to 6 meters. Keep that in mind if you have a surface watch: you may want to stay longer in the water.
What to see when you dive the Tweed River
There are a few items that have been dumped in the Tweed River than make the dive quite unique. You can look for the shopping trolley (in Jack Evans Boat Harbour), the scale or the Buddha, for example.
We’d usually do a shallow dive on the rock wall. With the dive torch (I have a BigBlue torch*), it’s easy to look in the cracks and overhand. You’re likely to spot crayfish, shrimps, moray eels, nudibranchs (and their eggs), lionfish… It’s not rare to also spot an octopus – but I haven’t been lucky there.
Have you dived the Tweed River? How was it? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where to dive Tweed Heads
When you reach Tweed Heads, aim for Coral Street. There are a few car parks next to the river, before the ocean (and the Marine Rescue).
Next to the small jetty at the end of Jack Evans Harbour, there’s a platform with a pole. You may choose to enter and exit the water from there if you aren’t a confident diver. It can be hard to find underwater, but if you have two dive flags buoys*, you can attach one of them in front of the entrance to help find it. The second one should be a bit further so that boats can easily see it.
You can also choose to enter the water from the Little Duranbah beach (NOT Duranbah beach). This would be a drift dive, where you always leave the wall on your right. The corner from the beach to the river can have a stronger current than the rest of the river, so be prepared. Then, you simply follow the wall to the exit point, with hardly any efforts.
If you need to fill up your tanks, the closest dive shop is Kirra Dive.
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