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Australia’s Unique Scuba-Diving Options

There’s nothing quite like swimming in pitch-black water, guided only by a small flashlight and catching the glowing-green eyes of a shark, and then another shark, and then another...

Night diving was a strange concept to me before I tried it, but I’m glad I did. It’s a whole different world down there after dark, where you feel less like a diver and more like an astronaut in the black of space. Coral reefs take on alien form and the green specks of bioluminescent plankton create stars beneath the waves.

And of course, there are plenty of underwater creatures lurking in the dark.

I was aboard a three-day liveaboard vessel that takes divers to the outer Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, Australia. Being a good two-hour journey each way from Cairns, day trips out to the reef are a bit rushed with more time spent traveling than in the water. Overnight trips don’t just give divers the chance to squeeze more dives into their day (about four per day, while most day trips are just two or three), they give you the chance to participate in night and dawn dives -- both unforgettable experiences.

Overnight sailings depart from all along the Queensland coast along with heaps of other renowned dive spots around Australia and the world:

  • Townsville: Just off the coast lies the SS Yongala shipwreck, which Australian Geographic calls the "top wreck dive in the country"
  • Whitsunday Islands: Dozens of overnight sailing trips depart Airlie Beach, many with dive equipment on board. Most sites are secluded bays well away from large swells.
  • Coral Bay, Western Australia (Ningaloo Reef): The coastline’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the waters here teem with manta rays, turtles, and hundreds of species of fish and coral. Visit between March and June for a chance to see whale sharks.
  • International: Thailand, Indonesia and Fiji are just a few places where multi-day dive trips are available.

Dive into our Australia destination page for deals, tips and flights to Australia from Virgin Australia.

Happy diving!

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Sydney
Thursday, March 13, 2014
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Alex Keshen