Australia is a country renowned for many things - great food and drink, friendly locals, the Sydney Opera House and of course, some of the world's most amazing beaches.
But for those who love the outdoors, a trip to Australia is on most people’s travel bucket lists, especially if you enjoy diving. The very second you think of underwater fun in this area of the world, the famous Great Barrier Reef springs instantly to mind, which is understandable.
However, Australia has a number of great diving spots that offer just as much of a reward as diving around the Great Barrier Reef itself.
Let's start just off Queensland, where the protected waters of the Lizard Island National Park offer divers a vast selection of underwater life to view during every session. From the stunning corals to the elegant manta rays and giant clams, the warm waters found here attract a number of species. The island is a popular diving site for beginners to try their hand at diving, although due to the stunning underwater views, divers of all abilities tend to come back here again and again.
It isn't just the reefs that are popular For a dive with a difference, head out to the shipwreck site of the Yongala passenger ship that sank back in 1911 on a routine journey from Melbourne to Cairns. Now, the wreck teems with wildlife, offering the chance to see potato cod, clown fish and sea snakes. In winter you might meet a humpback whale or two, whilst in the summer months, you will be greeted by hundreds of tiny colourful fish. Beware though, as the wreck is very popular and is visited by around 10,000 divers each year.
Another popular spot is the World Heritage Site at Heron Island. Again, it is popular with beginners as it is easy to access by a quick boat ride out to a number of terrific dive spots. Try Heron Bommie, the Coral Cascades or Blue Pools where you might just see loggerhead turtles, wobbegong sharks or moray eels, among others.
Head to Byron Bay for plenty of action
Our last two suggestions take us to the well-known area of Byron Bay, which is the perfect destination if you want to mix relaxing days on the beach with a spot of diving. The Bay offers a different climate to other Australian diving sites, mixing the warm waters of the north with the cool waters of the south. Because of this, you will find an amazing selection of underwater wildlife all attracted by the unique water system.
First try Julian Rocks, two small islands that sit within their own Marine Park and a great place for seeing larger species such as humpback whales and leopard sharks. Alternatively, head out to the Whitsunday Islands where the corals flicker with colourful underwater life. The islands are perfect for beginners as they house a dedicated diving centre and just a short boat ride will take you to some fantastic spots just outside the Great Barrier Reef.