Don’t miss the opportunity to do scuba diving in Byron Bay: Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is in the Top 5 of Australia’s best scuba diving sites. It’s the most exciting experience you can have in Australia‘s most relaxed town: sharks, rays, turtles and thousands of fish await!

At Julian Rocks Marine Reserve in Byron Bay, the warm tropical currents mix with cooler temperate waters. The site is protected so marine life is abundant and, according to the season, you’ll have different exciting encounters. Even if you only have one day in Byron Bay, it’s worth considering scuba diving. The site is so close to the town that you can easily squeeze in a single dive.

Can you go scuba diving in Byron Bay if you’re not certified?

Yes! You’ll have to do a short session in the pool as training before going to the ocean for your introductory scuba diving experience supervised by a professional, of course. Check out more info here*.

If you prefer, you can also stick to snorkelling with turtles.

Five reasons why I love scuba diving in Byron Bay

  1. The dive sites are super easy to get to. It only takes only 10min by boat to reach the Julian Rocks Marine Reserve from Byron Bay. And Byron Bay is a day trip from Brisbane – although I recommend doing it over a full weekend because there are many other fun things to do in Byron Bay!
  2. We come back to shore after one dive, which makes it cheaper if you only want to do a single dive and more comfortable if you do a double dive as you don’t have to wait on the boat!
  3. There are many seasonal visitors at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve, so the experience is very different each time. During winter, the grey nurse sharks are visiting. During summer, the leopard sharks are there, and the manta rays are cruising.
  4. There are big animals and an incredible amount of small ones too: this scuba diving site will please everyone
  5. We almost always spot dolphins on the way – a great bonus!
Julian Rocks 06 Grey Nurse Shark

What to expect when scuba diving Julian Rocks Marine Reserve

I’ve stopped counting the number of dives I’ve done at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. But I know that I loved each of them. Here are a few overviews of my experiences:

Scuba diving at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve: the Needles

The Needles is an excellent scuba diving site, we had fun going into a kind of beautiful canyon and were amazed by the amount of fish we had to go through at the exit of the canyon.

Some of the marine life we saw:

  • Small and big lionfish
  • Wobbegongs
  • Group of Porcupinefish
  • Shrimp
  • Big empty lobster
  • School of Stripeys
  • Eastern Pomfrets
  • Bright-eye Filefish
  • Tarwhines

Although seeing that many wobbegongs and that many fish was fantastic, my highlight of this dive was the group of porcupine fish, with two of them being very curious and approaching us. With their big bulging eyes and their box shape, they are just the cutest fish.

Scuba diving with Grey Nurse Sharks at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve

As we were driving down to Byron Bay, the news on the radio was about two shark attacks in 24 hours in the area. Although the Grey Nurse Sharks are placid, it was reminding us how vulnerable we are in the water. Most of all it was setting the “Jaws” atmosphere perfectly. I had dreamt of scuba diving with Grey Nurse sharks since I heard about them, and I was going to tick it off my bucket list… Click here to learn more about this species and why I love them so much.

We started our dive at the Nursery and navigated to the Cod Hole.

The visibility was not very good, less than 10m. So when you spot a shark, it is already quite close to you. Although I was not scared, the first close encounter gave me shivers. The shark looked at me with its tiny eyes, and as it was swimming toward me, I could see very clearly its enormous exposed teeth. I was low on the sand, and it finally swam just a few centimetres above my head, as if I did not exist. We saw several of them during the dive, all of them calm and aloof.

Cod Hole was a beautiful arch with an incredible number of small fish, and we were lucky to meet the big Cod himself as we were leaving the place.

Some of the marine life we saw:

  • Grey Nurse Sharks
  • Porcupine Fish
  • Lionfish
  • Eastern Pomfrets
  • Stripeys
  • Yellow Box Fish
  • Toadfish
  • Old Wives
  • Turtles
  • Wobbegongs
  • Goatfish
  • Snapper
  • Anemonefish
  • Damselfish
  • Morwongs (Crested & Red)

Where is Julian Rocks Marine Reserve?

Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is 2.5 kilometres from Byron Bay (New South Wales) shore by boat, and it only takes 10 minutes to reach the dive sites. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Brisbane to Byron Bay. It’s feasible to go there for just a day trip, but it makes a fantastic scuba diving weekend away from the city!


Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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