We can go scuba diving in Brisbane all year round; that’s one of the things I love the most about living in Brisbane. Brisbane scuba divers are lucky to have many dive locations only one or two hours away from the city. Even better, they all offer a different experience so it’s almost impossible to rank them: corals/rocks/wreck, turtles/sharks/rays… There are options to please everybody. And for more pleasure, all dive sites are located in amazing places to enjoy your time after your dive (or for those partners who don’t share the same hobby!).
I’ve divided this list of places to go scuba diving near Brisbane into two groups: the boat dives and the shore dives. If you’re keen to go a bit further, here’s a list of weekend ideas to go scuba diving from Brisbane.
Scuba diving near Brisbane: sites that are easy to reach for a day trip
Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
Minjerribah is a fantastic day trip from Brisbane. They have amazing sites to enjoy all year round to spot fish, nudibranchs and sharks. And during the warmer months, you can dive with manta rays!
Boats going directly to the dive sites leave from Manly Marina (30 minutes south of Brisbane), or you can catch a ferry from Cleveland (40 minutes south of Brisbane) to reach the dive shop on the island, Manta Lodge.
Byron Bay is one of the most famous stops on Australia‘s East Coast. It’s also one of the best diving destinations. Julian Rocks is ranked among the top 5 dives in Australia. We love it for the plethora of fish and smaller things but my favourite season is during the colder months when the impressive Grey Nurse Sharks visit.
It takes about 2 hours to drive to Byron Bay from Brisbane.
There’s no better place than Flinders Reef to see corals when scuba diving in Brisbane. Flinders Reef in Moreton Bay is a hope spot: corals are healthy and growing. There’s a turtle cleaning station on Flinders Reef and we’ve spotted turtles every time we’ve dived there.
Dive shops in Brisbane, Mooloolaba and Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) regularly organise day trips to Flinders Reef.
In 2005, they sunk the HMAS Brisbane, a destroyer from the late 60s, to create a dive site on the Sunshine Coast. It’s awesome to have a wreck to explore next door. At 26 metres deep, this dive site near Brisbane is only for Advanced divers. There are also a few reefs to explore near Mooloolaba.
It takes about 1.5hrs to drive to Mooloolaba from Brisbane.
Cook Island is a great spot on the Gold Coast (in front of the beautiful Fingal Head) to see nice corals, nudibranchs and turtles. It’s always full of life.
As you’re diving around an island, sites are usually easy to navigate and protected from the wind.
Dive boats usually leave from Tweed Heads, about 1h15 south of Brisbane, to go to Cook Island.
Tangalooma Wrecks are a popular snorkelling spot near Brisbane. When we went sailing Moreton Bay, we took diving gear to dive the wrecks. It was good fun, but not my favourite dive near Brisbane. You can technically shore dive Tangalooma Wrecks from Moreton Island, but you’ll need a boat to get to the island.
Nine Mile Reef
There’s always current at Nine Mile Reef so it’s a site for advanced scuba divers only comfortable with drift dives. It’s a reputed spot in winter to see grey nurse sharks. But as the current gets stronger in summer, it attracts pelagic fish which makes it a very special scuba diving site near Brisbane.
Dive boats usually leave from Tweed Heads, 1h15 south of Brisbane, to go to Nine Mile Reef.
Gold Coast Wrecks
I haven’t dived any of the Gold Coast Wrecks yet. The Scottish Prince Shipwreck is the most famous one. The wreck attracts millions of fish and some say it’s the best dive on the Gold Coast. However, unlike the HMAS Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, you cannot penetrate the shipwreck.
Dive shops on the Gold Coast plan trips to local reefs and wrecks at least every weekend.
There are other dive sites that are reputed but harder to reach as dive shops don’t visit them regularly. This is why I didn’t include Cherubs Cave, Henderson’s Reef or Curtin Artificial Reef on this list. But if you have the opportunity to go there, they are some of my favourite dive sites near Brisbane!
Shore dives near Brisbane:
Gold Coast Seaway
The Gold Coast Seaway is a great shore dive near Brisbane. The visibility isn’t always good, but there’s always something to see, from small nudibranch to big Queensland groupers!
It takes about 1 hour to drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast Seaway dive site.
Scuba diving in the Tweed River is often a disappointment: I had very low visibility for most of my dives there. But it’s an easy site for beginners and a good way to gain more experience with a cheap, easy shore dive.
It takes about 1h20 to drive from Brisbane to the Tweed River shore dive site.
We had to swim more than for other shore dives to reach Kirra Reef on the Gold Coast, but it was a fun dive!