Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) is a little paradise just outside Brisbane. The island has a lot to offer (iconic Australian wildlife, lovely walks, stunning landscape, beautiful beaches…) and I regularly go there for a lovely break from the city. I love scuba diving Minjerribah. When the water gets warmer, the manta ray season is on and we sometimes go there just for diving. I often read that Manta Bommie dive site is amongst the ten best dive spots in Australia. And when it gets cooler, it’s the season for the amazing grey nurse sharks. There are only good seasons on Minjerribah!
Not a diver? Check these six reasons why I always go to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). I’m sure you’ll love it!
How to go scuba diving on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
Minjerribah is a great scuba diving day trip from Brisbane, but it also makes a perfect scuba diving weekend destination. There are two ways of organising a diving trip to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island):
Scuba diving trip from Brisbane
You can hop on a boat from Brisbane and make a return day trip from the mainland during the day. But you will have to cross the bar between Moreton Island and Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), which can sometimes be uncomfortable.
GoDive and Brisbane Scuba often offer the opportunity to go scuba diving Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and they both have big, comfortable boats. We left Manly marina (about 30 minutes south of Brisbane CBD) at 6 am and were back at the marina before 1 pm. They usually run trips on Saturdays and Sundays, but don’t always go to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) as we’re lucky to have other nice diving spots near Brisbane, such as Flinders Reef or Cherubs Cave for example!
Scuba diving trip from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
It only takes a dozen minutes by boat to reach most dive sites from the Manta Lodge dive shop. If you can spend the weekend on the island, it’s perfect. You can also dive with Manta Lodge for just a day trip; we’ve done it more than once. You’ll take a passenger ferry from Cleveland (45 minutes south of Brisbane) to Dunwich, the town at the south of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). The Manta Lodge shuttle bus will pick you up in Dunwich, and drive you back there. We prefer to book the afternoon trip (leaving the dive shop at 12.30 pm and coming back on land at 4 pm) to avoid the very early start. The ferry to get there on time for the morning dive leaves Cleveland at 5.55 am whereas to get there on time for the afternoon dive, you can catch the ferry at 10.55 am.
I particularly like the guiding experience we get when we go with Manta Lodge. They always dive these sites and can easily answer all the questions we have about the critters living there.
If you’re a confident scuba diver with your equipment, you can also charter a boat with Point Lookout Scuba.
Are you covered for scuba diving by your travel insurance? It’s worth double-checking. If not, I recommend DAN (Divers Alert Network) for those who dive regularly. WorldNomads* and Covermore* also make it easy to add adventurous activities like scuba diving to your plan.
Our experience scuba diving Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) to see manta rays
Some people we met on board were bringing a dream to life by diving (or free diving) with these majestic creatures! How lucky are we to have them so close to Brisbane?!
Manta rays visit the Minjerribah coast during summer. They usually arrive just after the beautiful leopard sharks.
One site is particularly reputed to dive with manta rays on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). Manta Bommie is a cleaning station, and we could watch multiple manta rays at each dive. It is a unique experience to interact with these giants of the sea. Although they are very impressive, they are known to be friendly and harmless. They come very close to the divers and stay in the area, allowing a lasting unusual encounter. Incredible.
I got PADI certified just a month before my first trip to Manta Bommie. It was among my first dives and my first time with manta rays. An unforgettable time. They are incredibly elegant. We also got to see a turtle and other fish during the dive, but I have to admit our eyes were all stuck on the mantas…
It was not an easy dive for a beginner because of the current and the surge, but nothing too hard though and an excellent experience in the end. As we sometimes needed to grab rocks to go forward or stay at a place, I highly recommend wearing diving gloves*. The maximum depth at Manta Bommie is around 16 metres, so Open Water divers are allowed to access it.
I went back a few more times as a more competent diver. There was current again, but it felt like an easy dive. It’s comfortable when you don’t have to worry about your maximum depth. We could watch beautiful manta rays dancing together, sometimes in sync with a turtle or with a leopard shark nearby. But another highlight was spotting a mantis shrimp, one of the most fascinating creatures down there. We spent so much time with manta rays on our first dive that we were happy to look for octopus, lobsters, coral shrimps and nudibranchs.
And if you happen to be there out of the manta season, or if the conditions are not good enough to go to the Manta Bommie dive site, it’s still worth planning a dive to one of the other great scuba diving sites at Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island).
Our experience scuba diving Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) to see grey nurse sharks
Scuba diving in Brisbane is at its best during winter as the weather is often perfect to go on a boat trip. And the cold water attracts the endangered grey nurse sharks. Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) is a very reputed site in Queensland to spot grey nurse sharks (as well as Wolf Rock and Cherubs Cave). Plus, you get to see and hear the humpback whales nearby!
Shark Alley at Flat Rock is the most famous site to go scuba diving near Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and spot grey nurse sharks. It’s more suitable for Advanced Open Water divers as the site is around 25-metre deep.
Other things to see when scuba diving Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
The Nursery and Turtle Cave at Flat Rock are two other great sites where we’ve often spotted turtles and many other exciting marine life.
One of our other favourites is Shag Rock. It’s shallower than the others (around 12 metres), and there’s a lot to see. On one trip there, we spotted a school of eagle rays, a curious guitar shark, a beautiful leopard shark, a shy catshark, many incredible octopuses and cute clownfish, colourful shrimps, fish and slugs… just to name a few! Have a look at the gallery at the end of the post.
Have you dived with manta rays or is it on your bucket list? Share your experience in the comments below!
Tips to plan your trip to Minjerribah
I usually camp when we spend the weekend on Minjerribah (Straddie). It’s fun and cheap. You can upgrade to a glamping option or a cabin near the beach.
If you don’t like camping, I recommend staying near Point Lookout. There are many accommodation options available. I once rented an apartment for three couples at Whale Watch Resort* and we had a lovely stay. Point Lookout is also the start of the beautiful North Gorge Walk, a must-do for wildlife lovers.
For budget accommodation, check out Manta Lodge*. It’s super close to the beach, and they also host the dive shop.
Where is Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)?
Minjerribah is only 30km away from Brisbane, in Queensland (Australia). The most popular scuba diving sites in Minjerribah are in front of Point Lookout.
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cool. I eventually want to go diving in Australia and also to swim with manta rays.
Carolyn, I hope you’ll get a chance to swim with the mantas. It’s so amazing… When you plan your diving trip to Australia, you may want to consider Lady Elliot Island. A bit pricey but an amazing experience. I’ve written about it on the blog if you want to learn more!