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Diving in Byron Bay

Diver and turtle


Beneath the waves of Byron Bay, there’s a rare and abundant population of marine life ready for you to discover.

And the best way to explore this underwater world is to put on a wetsuit and go diving in Byron Bay.

We spoke to Perry Bartholomew from Byron Bay Dive Centre—the town’s original dive centre—about snorkelling and diving in the bay. Having scuba dived here for over 20 years, Perry offered a valuable insight as to what makes Byron Bay a special place to explore below the surface.

Let’s go diving in Byron Bay.

A Marine Wildlife Wonder

Diving in Byron Bay focuses on the iconic site of Julian Rocks.

The bay’s main reef is located here, featuring a range of hard and soft corals also found on the Great Barrier Reef to the north. Yet, this colourful sea-floor canvas is not the bay’s major attraction, as Perry explains:

“The reef is like a magnet that attracts abundant marine life, making this is a dive site where you can see wildlife from the whole east coast of Australia.

The diversity of sea life here surprises almost everyone we take diving. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see; it’s crazy the amount of marine life that’s packed into that one site!”

That wildlife includes Julian Rocks’ resident sea turtles as well as a myriad of fish that thrive here year-round. In the winter, grey nurse sharks are also regular visitors, while in the summer leopard sharks and manta rays are often spotted during a dive trip.

As a meeting point between the coral sea and the Southern Ocean, Byron Bay offers a rare diversity of marine life from across the east coast, all in one idyllic location. To enjoy it to the fullest, it’s best to dive straight in.

leopard shark

A Calmer Adventure Activity

Unlike Byron Bay’s other popular adventure attractions, such as skydiving and surfing, scuba diving offers a more serene experience.

This calmness is something that makes diving an adventure to enjoy slowly rather than in a single adrenalised rush. It’s created in the mix of the unique quiet found underwater, the steady rhythm of your breathing and the wide-eyed wonder most divers experience.

Yet, as with sea kayaking in Byron Bay, dive trips still have clear elements of adventure. And this dive centre offers one from the outset by launching through the surf at the iconic Byron Bay beach, The Pass.

Once out at the dive site, the simple thrill of diving under the surface and being surrounded by such abundance in wildlife is truly an adventure into another world. And it’s one that’s full of surprises too, as Perry told us:

“You can be swimming along looking at some clownfish then suddenly two huge torpedo kingfish5-feet longswim past. Or take a closer look at a simple rock and you’ll discover tiny shrimps crawling around on it and a sea star on the side and a moray eel hiding in a hole. It’s a really special dive site because of this abundance.”

marine life in Byron Bay

Snorkelling in Byron Bay

For those who prefer to stay nearer to the surface, there’s fantastic snorkelling available here too.

During the summer season, Byron Bay Dive Centre run dedicated snorkelling tours with guides who’ll point out the local underwater inhabitants, though snorkelling is also available on dive boats year-round.

Snorkelling is particularly memorable here thanks, in part, to the shallow depth of the Julian Rocks dive site. This enables snorkelers to enjoy much of wildlife swimming below while still bobbing on the surface.

The resident sea turtles are a notable draw for snorkelling in Byron Bay. As they regularly surface for breath, gasps of wonder can be heard through the snorkels!

Byron Bay Dive site Julian Rocks

Diving in Byron Bay

If you’ve got a tendency to get seasick, Byron Bay is the perfect place to try diving.

The dive site is just a 5-minute boat ride from the beach, negating any concerns about long and nauseating trips over undulating waters. This proximity also makes diving something that can fit into even the busiest of days off, with morning dives often completing as early as 10:30 am!

All the introductory training happens at the dive centre’s purpose-built facility. This allows beginners to learn all about the equipment, ask questions and get rid of any nerves in the comfort of a swimming pool before heading out for their adventure in the big blue.

So, whether you stare out at the bay and wonder what nature is thriving beneath the surface, or simply want to tick this adventure off your bucket list, diving in Byron Bay offers an accessible and enjoyable experience amid the rarest of marine life populations.

Looking for ideas beyond diving in Byron Bay? Check out our adventure guide.

Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.

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