By Amanda Cotton
When you think of world-class diving destinations, Australia is (rightly) high on the list for sites like the Great Barrier Reef and the west coast, particularly Ningaloo Reef. But, surprisingly, Sydney and the surrounding areas offer some of the best diving you’ll come across down under.
Sydney’s cooler waters require a thicker wetsuit, or even a drysuit, but the local fauna makes braving the cold worth it. Most diving in Sydney is done by shore, and divers will find excellent sites nestled into several bays and beaches along the coast. Botany Bay houses some incredible sites, such as Bare Island, where divers can encounter weedy sea dragons, a beautiful species endemic to Australia. These highly ornate and colorful animals in the seahorse family range in size from 10 inches to over 1 foot (1/3 meter) in length. They are surprisingly tolerant of divers, and underwater photographers can capture some stellar imagery of these sweet little guys against the beautiful backdrop of the colorful rock and plant life in Botany Bay.
Head down the coast just a few clicks to a dive site called Oak Park, and you’ll find one of the most inquisitive and curious animals in the ocean, the giant cuttlefish. At over 3 feet long (1 meter), these guys dwarf their cousins in other areas of the world, but their behavior, color-changing capabilities and curious nature are all the same. Hidden under rock ledges and stony patches, these giants can’t help themselves but to come out and interact with divers as they pass by.
You can find the playful and inquisitive Australian fur seals just outside of Sydney at the Wollongong Harbor. These fun and exciting seasonal encounters will leave any diver smiling for days.
Divers interested in sharks can find breathtaking encounters with grey nurse sharks at Magic Point. Also called ragged-tooth or sand-tiger sharks elsewhere, grey nurse sharks are slow moving and docile, which makes them perfect subjects for underwater photography.
With several great options in the area, Sydney is a spot that divers shouldn’t overlook. Couple this 5-star diving with world-class topside attractions, such as the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, and you’ve got an excellent option for your next diving getaway.