5 Best Great Barrier Reef Diving Sites

Find the best reefs, wrecks and bommies to dive in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef might be known as the world’s best snorkeling spot. Yet, here’s something you might not know: The Great Barrier Reef is also an incredible spot for divers. Those reefs are just as exciting to explore on a dive, as they are by snorkel.

Not to mention, the conditions couldn’t be better. The GBR is known for its moderate-depth sites, excellent visibility, and year-round warm water. All of these factors combine to make the Great Barrier Reef an enthralling dive locale.

Fish in the Great Barrier Reef

Where should you plan to dive on your next Australian yacht charter? These are the Great Barrier Reef’s five best dive sites.

1. Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot is a revered snorkeling spot. Yet, for divers, the island is a haven too, offering the chance for up-close and personal encounters with the reef’s beauty. Here’s why it’s perfect for divers:

There are nearly 20 dive sites located around the island. And the island’s unique location – about 5 miles from the continental shelf – makes it a prime location for manta ray viewing. In fact, it’s one of the best dive spots for spotting manta rays in the Great Barrier Reef.

Getting There: Lady Elliot is located about 30 miles from mainland Queensland and north of Fraser Island. It’s best reachable by private yacht, yet the island is also home to a small airstrip.

Highlights: An abundance of dive sites, as well as huge populations of manta ray, make this a favorite dive site in Australia.

2. SS Yongala

Divers go to the Great Barrier Reef to check out the beautiful underwater coral gardens. Yet, if you’re after an adventure, consider diving the wreck of the SS Yongala. Located about 50 nautical miles from Townsville, the wreck is one of Australia’s best intact shipwrecks, and that makes it a favorite for divers the world over.

The shipwreck is now an artificial reef, teeming with colorful fish, manta ray, reef shark and sea turtles.

Getting There: The Yongala is located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and can be accessed from Townsville. It’s located near many popular charter yachting stops in the GBR.

• Highlights: As an artificial reef, the SS Yongala attracts larger marine life, including barracuda, huge populations of Grouper, and even whales and reef sharks. It’s a great spot to see the Great 8 of the GBR.

3. Heron Island

Heron Island is located in the Bunker Group islands, north of Fraser Island. And the island offers one of the most spectacular reef dives in all of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is larger than Lady Elliot, and as such, it offers a great variety of dive sites. There are some 30+ sites just off the island.

Although there’s great variety, there is one species you’re likely to see most: Sea turtle. The island is an important nesting site for green and loggerhead turtle, with more than 4,000 animals located in the waters nearby. In other words, you’re almost guaranteed to see sea turtles during your visit. In addition, Heron Island’s reefs are thriving with its colorful corals attracting manta ray, clown fish, and numerous other tropical species.

• Getting There: Heron Island is located 30+ miles offshore, and it’s best reachable by private boat. Many visit the island’s eco resort.

• Highlights: This is the best place to dive in Australia to get lost in large schools of fish. Heron is also fairly remote, which means you’ll usually be without crowds.

4. Ribbon Reefs

The Ribbon Reefs are the thin strips of reef that form the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef. And there are numerous dive spots worth checking out in the region. One of the best, though, is Challenger Bay.

The Ribbon Reefs’ hard-coral gardens are abundant in a variety of large fish species, including surgeonfish and grouper.

Plus, the remote locale makes these some of the least trafficked dive spots in all of the Great Barrier Reef.

• Getting There:
The Ribbon Reefs are located between 30-70 feet offshore, adjacent to Cooktown in northern Queensland. They’re best reached by private yacht.

• Highlights: The Ribbon Reefs are one of the best nighttime dive spots in the Great Barrier Reef. There’s a lot of activity after dark by the reef’s inhabitants.

5. Steve’s Bommie

In Australia, a bombora, or bommie for short, is an outcrop of coral, usually located offshore, which attracts a vibrant assortment of marine life. Of all the bommies in the Great Barrier Reef, though, Steve’s Bommie is one of the best for divers. Located in the Ribbon Reefs, Steve’s Bommie puts on a dazzling display of tropical color.

Located in about 10 to 30 meters of water, the bommie is home to everything from bright orange clownfish and red anemone, to reef shark and sea turtle. Many choose this spot due to its depth (there’s plenty to explore in just 10 meters of water) and its beautiful coral gardens.

• Getting There: Steve’s Bommie is located off the northern coast of Queensland, near Lizard Island. It’s best reached by private boat, and is a short daytrip from Lizard.

• Highlights: The Bommie is an underwater photographer’s paradise. Huge schools of colorful fish populate the area, and deliver some of the most vibrant photos in all of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hit all of these dive spots and more during a Great Barrier Reef yacht charter. Learn more about our options for Australian yacht charters now. Start planning your next vacation today!