I feel lucky to have a local scuba diving site like Cook Island with such a variety of marine life and coral types without the hassle (and the budget) to travel to the Great Barrier Reef! Cook Island is not the best dive site in Australia. But with turtles, corals, anemone fish so close to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, it’s a jewel for locals and newly certified divers.
As it is easy to navigate with a lot to see in shallow waters, Cook Island is also an excellent spot for beginners. It offers protected dive sites, so the dives are rarely cancelled even when it’s windy.
The island is only a few minutes away by boat from the beautiful Fingal Head. It is an easy dive with fascinating residents all year round, and some exciting seasonal visitors. I have heard the nickname “Turtle Island” for this site, which gives a small clue about what to expect there. Indeed, it is reputed as being a turtle station: turtles come here to get cleaned by the prolific creatures living on the site.
Apparently, one side of the island is protected from waves and swell. Indeed, despite the wind and the choppy ocean on that day, the boat wasn’t moving too much once we reached the island. Even on an average day with poor visibility, we had a decent dive.
We stayed in the shallow area and amongst the soft and hard corals, and sponges, we spotted:
- One friendly loggerhead turtle
- One shy green turtle
- Moray eels
- Big lobsters
- Blue groupers
- Placid wobbegong sharks
- Small beautiful shrimps
- An uncountable number of beautiful nudibranchs
- An uncountable number of anemonefish
- Big and small and colourful and funny-shaped sea stars
- A blue grouper
- A few blennies
- A few cowrie shells
Of course, this list is very incomplete and you can expect even more from Cook Island. We even spotted a fascinating frogfish once.
I would not place Cook Island on the list of must-do scuba diving sites near Brisbane. Some other diving sites accessible via a day trip from Brisbane are more spectacular (Flinders Reef, Stradbroke Island, Julian Rocks or Wolf Rock for example). But if you have already explored the other sites and you want to add a new one to your list, more coral and tropical-fish and turtle oriented, scuba diving Cook Island will do the job.
Have you dived Cook Island on the Gold Coast? How was it? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Cook Island?
Cook Island is located less than 100 km south of Brisbane, only 600 meters in front of Fingal Head and not far from where the Tweed River goes into the ocean.
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