Diving In Queensland: 13 Unmissable Experiences.

Stretching along the Australian coast for more than 1400 miles, and containing over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands, the Great Barrier Reef is a well-known highlight of scuba diving in Australia. But this iconic dive destination is just the start of what the surrounding region has to offer. From the world’s oldest rainforest to immaculate beaches, huge crocodiles, and bustling cities, Queensland has it all. Read on to find out more and get inspired to go diving in Queensland this year.

13 great reasons to go diving in Queensland.

1. Explore the oldest rainforest in the world.

Walking within the Daintree Rainforest, you would be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time to millions of years ago. This lush green forest is a tangle of old trees and vines that cover around 1,200 square kilometers of hilly terrain north of Cairns.

Stretching down to the ocean, this UNESCO World Heritage Site borders remote white-sand beaches and another World Heritage Site, the Great Barrier Reef.

At around 10 million years older than the Amazon rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest is thought to be the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world.

It is well worth joining a tour there when you are not busy exploring the many highlights of diving in Queensland.

Just make sure you leave time to visit Cape Tribulation Beach whilst you are in the area. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is.

2. Meet Australia’s enormous crocodiles.

Meeting saltwater crocodiles is another top reason to visit Daintree. They are a truly impressive sight lounging along the riverbanks in the afternoon sun.

Joining a Daintree River cruise is the best way to get up close and learn all about these fascinating animals and their varied history in the area.

3. Immerse in one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world.

Take a trip to Rainforestation Nature Park and experience one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world. Indigenous Pamagirri guides will share their customs and traditions that are kept alive in the rainforest of Kuranda.

4. Snorkel with manta rays.

Love manta rays? You can go snorkeling with these charming animals in glorious turquoise waters at Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island, and North Stradbroke Island.

These destinations are in the southern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef and are easily accessible from Brisbane.

5. Get up close to ocean giants.

During the Australian winter, thousands of humpback whales visit Queensland’s warm waters as they migrate north from Antarctica.

Spot these humpbacks in large numbers at Hervey Bay, the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, by joining one of the many whale watching tours there.

Keen to get in the water with whales? Plan a Cairns scuba diving trip during June or July and join a dedicated dwarf minke whale liveaboard safari.

The Great Barrier Reef hosts the only known aggregation of dwarf minke whales in the world and these friendly whales are fantastic to snorkel with.


6. Surround yourself with big fish, soft corals and sharks galore.

Whilst the Great Barrier Reef gets a bad rap for its coral bleaching, it is so vast that there are still many great dive sites there. Head out into the Coral Sea for the best reefs:

  • Bougainville Reef has a vast array of hard corals and vibrant soft corals, plus huge shoals of fish.
  • Osprey Reef has excellent water visibility, just perfect for spotting the numerous sharks and pelagic fish that congregate there.

If your liveaboard visits Gotham City dive site as well, make sure you join the night shark dive.

This dive site is spectacular and seeing whitetip reef reefs, jacks and trevallies hunt by the light of your torch is an action-packed experience.

7. Visit Australia’s sea turtle mecca.

For unique and remote diving in Queensland, visit Raine Island in the far northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef.

Only accessible by liveaboard, it is one of Australia’s hidden diving gems that few people know about.

There you will find pristine reefs that host one of the largest gatherings of sea turtles in the world.

Raine Island has been a green sea turtle nesting site for over 1000 years and hosts tens of thousands of nesting turtles every year.

8. Get a bird’s eye view of the Great Barrier Reef.

To truly appreciate the size of the Great Barrier Reef, you need a bird’s eye view. Hop on a low-level scenic flight from Cairns and prepare to be speechless.

This vast reef system is seemingly endless, and you can spot mantas, sea turtles and more as you glide over the untouched reefs below.

9. Dive one of the world’s best-preserved shipwrecks.

If you love wreck diving, make sure you dive the SS Yongala. Sitting in the center of the Great Barrier Reef, the Yongala is one of the world’s best-preserved wrecks.

She sank in 1911 and is in fantastic condition, thanks to being protected by the Historic Shipwrecks Act, which prevents anyone from entering the wreck.

The interior is virtually untouched, and the wreck is a thriving artificial reef, with numerous corals, fish, bull rays and passing bull sharks.

One dive is never enough at this wreck, so take your time and book a couple of day trips from Townsville to go there.


10. Take a dawn hot air balloon flight over the Atherton Tablelands.

Start your day right with a peaceful hot air balloon flight from Cairns. Drift over the landscapes below you and watch the sun rise over the scenic Atherton Tablelands.

This fertile region is dotted with mirror-like lakes, verdant forests, plummeting waterfalls, and endless rolling hills.

11. Visit Queensland’s burgeoning wineries.

Queensland’s wineries are often overlooked in favor of other attractions, but with more than 70 wineries, vineyards, and cellar doors across the state, they deserve to be explored.

Take a self-guided journey along the Vine and Shine Trail, Queensland’s first official wine trail, to find the tipples that delight your taste buds and relax over long lunches in the sunshine.

Each of Queensland’s wine regions has its own personality, from the Granite Belt to the Gold Coast Hinterland, Brisbane’s Sunshine Coast and more.

12. Go stargazing at Australia’s largest salt pans.

The stars have long been used by Australia’s indigenous people for storytelling and now these stories are being shared during stargazing tours at Queensland’s largest salt pans.

Join a stargazing tour in Burketown to discover the brilliance of the solar system, with professional telescopes and knowledgeable Gangalidda guides.

Take off your shoes, connect to the land, and let your worries drift away as you watch the stars in all their glory.


13. Explore the sights of Australia’s famous River City.

Brisbane is full of surprises and has numerous activities and nearby dive sites to entertain you and your family for days on end.

Start with a river tour to view the city’s towering skyscrapers at their finest and enjoy sunset drinks on the water.

There are two botanic gardens to visit in Brisbane and a variety of hikes with breathtaking city views as well.

Walk the city streets and indulge at world-class eateries, then work it off with a river kayak tour, or relax at Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach.

Need a diving fix? With famous Flinders Reef and North Stradbroke Island a short hop from the city, scuba diving in Brisbane has access to some of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites.

When is the best time to go diving in Queensland?

Thanks to Australia’s enviable sunshine hours and warm waters, you can go diving in Queensland all year. Top times to visit include:

  • June to July to snorkel with minke whales and spot humpback whales.
  • May to August for peak manta ray season at Lady Elliot Island.
  • October to March for mantas at North Stradbroke Island.
  • October to February for the turtle nesting season at Raine Island.
  • June to October for dry days, clear waters and the best diving conditions on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • November to December for the chance to witness coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • December to May (the wet season) for quieter dive sites and lower prices.

Who is diving in Queensland suitable for?

One of the best things about diving in Queensland is that it offers something for every diver to enjoy.

Whether you base yourself at Cairns, further south at Townsville, or towards Brisbane, there is a range of dive sites to explore, and the dive conditions are generally easy.

You can hop on a day boat to the Great Barrier Reef if you are short on time, combine diving with exploring city sights, or join one of the many liveaboards that cruise the outer reefs and islands.

There are also plenty of snorkeling sites and many liveaboards cater for non-divers as well.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Great Barrier Reef scuba diving trip today.