- Discover Dive spots
The GBR stretches 2000km from Bundaberg in the south to the Torres Strait in the North and has a plethora of magnificent diving spots including:
Bundaberg - less crowded than other spots it also has some beautiful reefs. You are almost guaranteed to see turtles and manta rays.
Heron Island - just off Rockhampton, an abundance of great dive sites.
Ayr - check out the Yongala wreck, a massive passenger ship that capsized in 1911 with the loss of all on board. Breathtaking!
Whitsundays - Lots of great dive sites around these islands.
Cairns - Cairns and Port Douglas are where the reef comes closest to the coast, making it a lot easier to get some diving in. Plenty of really good spots i.e. Fitzroy Island. Great for snorkelling as the reef is very close to the surface of the water.
Lady Musgrave Island – dive in the unique deepwater coral lagoon.
Ningaloo reef in Western Australia is a match for the Great Barrier Reef, and more accessible. There's great diving and snorkelling to be had just off the beach. It's also probably one of the best places in the world to go swimming with the whale shark, the world’s largest fish. This is sure to be one of the best experiences you will ever have.
Snorkelling is very easy to do once you get used to breathing through a pipe and is a great alternative to scuba diving if you can't afford it or if diving simply isn't your cup of tea. Here are a few tips to make it that much better:
Make sure the mask is tightly sealed around your face, however don't over tighten as this will distort the seal and let the water in.
Spit on the inside of the mask, and then rinse with water. This will prevent the mask from steaming up. If that doesn’t sound appealing, use toothpaste.
You can get snorkels with valves to let the water out if it gets in the snorkel. If the valve becomes blocked with sand, seal the top of your snorkel with your hand and blow to unblock it. If you don't have a seal, just give a short sharp breath of air into the snorkel to clear the water.
When you're finished wash your mask with fresh water and store it away from direct sunlight.
When in Australia you should really consider getting certified for diving. Australia has some of the best dive spots in the world, and there's such competition that getting yourself certified can work out a lot cheaper here than in a lot of other countries. There are a lot of courses to choose from when getting your PADI ranging from three to seven day courses. If you have the money, spend it and get the best course you can. If not, there are plenty of cheap options around. Below is a rundown of what to expect on an average five day open water scuba diving course.
The first thing you will do is a routine medical just to make sure you won't be putting yourself at risk. You will probably be given an instruction book to read before you start the course, just to give you an idea of what's involved. Make sure to read this.
In the classroom you will be shown videos, listen to the instructors explain things, then given a test. You will then throw on your wetsuits and other equipment just to get used to wearing it.
You will practise in a training pool before you head out to sea. Your first time diving will be strange, your sound and vision will be all over the place at first but you will get used to it. You will practise such things as buoyancy control, equalising (popping your ears), taking off your mask and putting it back on, taking out your mouth piece and putting it back in, all the basics. At first this seems daunting but it's just in the unlikely event that your mask or mouth piece come off you, you will know what to do.
After this you will head out for your first ocean dives. You will go over the things you learnt in the pool in some shallow water before you head out on a supervised tour of the marine environment.
Your next dives will be longer and deeper. You will probably be divided into buddy pairs for dives without your supervisor. This can be nerve-wracking at first but you will be perfectly safe.
You may then partake in a night dive which will probably be one of the best, and most unnerving things you will ever do. You will have a good chance of seeing reef sharks as they feed at night. They are harmless.
You will finish off your course on day 5 and become a certified diver. Well done! The last day tends to be the best as they save the best dives for last.
If a PADI course is out of your price range but you still want to try your hand at diving, you can do what's called an introductory dive, where no experience is necessary. You will run through the basics just below the water and then you will hold onto the instructor as he leads you on a tour of the seabed. It's a great way of getting an idea of what's involved. Be warned, you may love it and end up doing the PADI anyways.