Once you've popped your scuba diving cherry with a Discover Scuba Dive (or you're just keener than a parrotfish on coral to discover the underwater world), getting your scuba certification will likely be top of the #lifegoals list. The central section of the Great Barrier Reef – which encompasses the likes of Lodestone Reef, Wheeler Reef, Keeper Reef, Davies Reef and Bramble Reef – is one of the more pristine locales to earn your ticket. There are five main players in the dive game in Townsville North Queensland, so to help you figure out the best option for you, read this first.
Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive
Adrenalin know their shiz when it comes to diving & snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. As the only operator to take day trips to Lodestone Reef, you can experience an easy introduction to scuba diving in this pristine reef environment, where you'll spot rays, giant clams, anemone and clownfish, starfish and reef sharks. You can dip a toe in with an introductory dive on their Great Barrier Reef day trip, which departs Townsville and Magnetic Island every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. If you're keen to take things further and dive straight into Open Water certification, you can complete the e-learning and pool session with Adrenalin in Townsville and take two day trips to Lodestone to complete the dives needed to bag your registration.
Advanced divers can join their SS Yongala day trip and experience one of the best shipwreck dives in the world, scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays.But if you want to dive, eat, sleep, repeat, the best option is their three-night liveaboard trip.Think: Maximum 20 people, three whole days of floating over the magical Great Barrier Reef, plenty of food, and 10 dives – including two night dives and two dives on the Yongala wreck.
Remote Area Dive
Remote Area Dive – or RAD – are a one-stop shop for locals and visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the secret world of scuba. Their instructors run lessons for PADI Open Water certification after-hours during the week, and put students through their final skills paces on a weekend of dives on the Great Barrier Reef. But it's not as simple as it sounds; the trip is a total gamechanger. Nowhere else on the Great Barrier Reef can you combine sunny days of A-class diving with camping overnight in a set-up that would make Gilligan proud.
For those progressing through their Advanced Open Water certification, you'll also have the chance to complete a night dive while skipper 'Pops' cooks up a hearty feast. You'll sleep like a salt-soaked baby with camp stretchers and swags pre-made with linen provided, and wake up to a cooked breakfast the next morning to fuel up for two more dives.You'd swear Pops breathes through gills, but he actually only started diving in his early 50s – a shining example that you're never too old to give it a go. “I saw all these people diving every day off Magnetic Island [where I live] and I thought, 'I've always wanted to do that, I live on the Great Barrier Reef, why aren't I out there doing it?!'” he says.
Every couple of months, when the weather is just right, RAD will arrange trips to Bramble Reef further offshore. Because this reef is more exposed it's affected by weather, so you need perfect conditions to do this tour.
Conveniently located at X Base Backpackers resort in Nelly Bay, Magnetic Dive offer everything from Discover Scuba Diving through to Divemaster certification. While they can organise day trips to the Yongala for advanced divers, most of the dives take place directly out front in Nelly Bay or at nearby Geoffrey Bay, where divers can spot the Moltke wreck.You can also hire snorkelling gear and a map from here and head out on one of the island's selfguided snorkel trails.
With a name like Yongala Dive, you know they've got one thing and one thing only on their mind – a 105-year-old beauty resting peacefully on the bottom of the sea. Based in Alva Beach in Ayr, Yongala Dive are a zippy 30-minute boat ride away from the captivating shipwreck, which sank a year before The Titanic! #history101. The choices are pretty simple here: either book for one day of diving (two dives) or two days of diving (four dives). But remember, the Yongala is an advanced dive site requiring minimum Open Water certification and at least six dives logged (and you need to have dived in the last six months).
If you want to go for Advanced Open Water certification, you'll need two more days (if conditions are working in your favour) to complete five adventure dives on the Yongala – including a navigation dive.
Easy-access shore diving (aka no sea sickness tablets required!), friendly instructors and affordable prices are what make Pleasure Divers a popular choice on Magnetic Island. The crew have been teaching people to dive for more than 25 years from their base in Arcadia, meaning they can easily quash any fears quicker than you can clip up your BCD.Complete an intro dive in one of Magnetic Island's beautiful bays or sign up for their three-day PADI Open Water dive course, which kicks off on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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Author: Tourism and Events Queensland
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