Scuba diving guide Brisbane: Best diving centers, liveaboards, dive sites and recommendations

The skyline of Brisbane, Australia

One of the oldest cities in Australia and the capital of Queensland, Brisbane is the third most populated city in Australia. This city is surrounded by large bodies of water. In fact, its name is taken from the name of Brisbane River, which was named after the former governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane.

Since Brisbane is located in Queensland, also known as the 'Sunshine State', the city has considerably warm weather even during the winter season. This makes Brisbane an ideal destination compared to the other diving locations in Australia. You can enjoy good weather while discovering the spectacular dive sites in Brisbane.

Brisbane is also surrounded by some of the biggest islands on the eastern coast of Australia, including Moreton Island, Stradbroke Island, and Bribie Island. You can find some of the most amazing reefs and wrecks with diverse species of marine life you’ll rarely find anywhere.

Recommendations for scuba diving Brisbane

If you’re planning for a Brisbane diving trip, November to May is the best time to do it. This is the only time that you could see this place with overloaded marine life. You can spot Leopard sharks, Manta Rays, Loggerhead Turtles, Nurse Sharks, and other awesome underwater creatures. The weather is also more pleasant during these months, and the humidity and rainfall are very less.

Liveaboards Brisbane

There are no liveaboards leaving from Brisbane. However, we recommend to book a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard, leaving from Cairns or Port Douglas. See our scuba diving guide Cairns for more information.

A liveaboard to the Great Barrier Reef with the Spirit of Freedom
A liveaboard to the Great Barrier Reef with the Spirit of Freedom, leaving from Cairns

Dive center Brisbane

Though a liveaboard trip is definitely the best way to experience a great diving destination, the case of Brisbane is different. Since most dive sites are just a few kilometers off the coast, you can easily discover these underwater sanctuaries with one of the dive centers in Brisbane. The best one you can trust with your Brisbane scuba diving adventure is Scuba Shane Diving, a dive center that specializes in Brisbane diving trips and dive courses.

Accommodation in Brisbane

Brisbane offers a lot of options for good accommodation on your scuba diving trip. There are choices for different budgets, from backpackers to luxury travelers. If you’re looking for a place with mid-range, we recommend the Inchcolm by Ovolo, an elegant and stylish boutique hotel that offers stylish and luxurious rooms and suites. The place is near the many dive centers, the Brisbane River and Brisbane CBD.

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Scuba Shane Diving

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Starting from AUD 139 (2 dives)
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Other
AUD 499
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Pure Dive

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Starting from AUD 149 (2 dives)
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AUD 699
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Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre

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Starting from AUD 155 (2 dives)
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AUD 799
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The best dive centers in Brisbane

To help make the most of your scuba diving adventures in Brisbane, we listed the three best diving centers that can guide you!

Diving center 1: Scuba Shane Diving

Scuba Shane diving center is located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It specializes in courses and dive trips in Brisbane and surrounding areas. They also offer a broad range of affordable learn-to-dive and specialty dive courses with certification of Scuba Diving International (No PADI or SSI).

Scuba Shane Diving can access some stunning dive sites and are offering day and multiple-day diving trips in the South East. Dive sites which can be visit are Flinders Reef, Manta Bommie, Flat Rock and the stunning Cook Island.

Scuba diving courses

Scuba Shane Diving offers an Open Water Scuba Course for those who want to train to Dive at a maximum depth of 18 meters. With the cost of AUD 499, all gear is already included!  They also offer an Advanced Adventure Scuba Course. During this course, you will improve your diving skills and you can dive to a maximum depth of 30 meters.

The Rescue Diver course will help you develop your knowledge and skills to perform a rescue when someone needs to be rescued effectively. After completing the course, you will be trained to rescue your buddy from the dangerous part of the training. The cost for Rescue Course will be AUD 499 and First Aid from AUD 99. If you want to become a Divemaster (professional), they also have a divemaster course that costs AUD 1,299.

Prices for diving

Diving at Flat Rock costs AUD 169 for a double dive and two dives at Manta Bommie costs AUD 169, including tanks/Air and weights.

Flinders Reef cost AUD 169 for two dives (a buffet lunch is included) and $40 for tanks/weights. Gear can be hired for AUD 70.

Diving center 2: Pure Dive

Located in Newstead at the banks of Brisbane River, this dive center offers first-class scuba diving in Brisbane Australia. Whether you’re planning to discover the rich marine life in Moreton Island, Pure Dive is the right day trip to satisfy your diving needs. It also offers fun PADI Courses that will enable beginners to learn scuba diving for as short as two days. Stacked with complete scuba diving equipment, Pure Dive will make sure that your Brisbane diving adventure will be an unforgettable one with the help of their PADI Professionals.

Courses

Pure Dive offers a whole range of scuba diving courses for beginners up to professional divers. Beginners can take the PADI Open Water course (AUD 699) and learn the basics of diving. The dive center also has PADI Advanced Open Water certification in place, as well as the Rescue Diver and Divemaster courses. There are also Specialty Diver courses for those who want to specialize in Nitrox diving, night dives, wreck diving, and many more.

Prices for Diving

Dive trips with Pure Dive start at AUD 160 depending on the site spot. Equipment rental is also available if you’re not able to bring your own scuba diving gears. If you’re a beginner, you can also purchase books, manuals, and DVDs to help you learn the ropes of diving easily.

Diving Center 3: Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre

Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre is Brisbane's premier diving center with a high-quality facility located right on the beach at ‘’Point Lookout’’. They provide daily dive trips to the Moreton Bay Marine Park on the beautiful North Stradbroke Island, as well as world-class scuba diving courses. Dive facilities at Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre include a dive shop, their own air & nitrox filling station, heated showers, secured storage and their own diving (inflatable) boats.

Scuba diving courses

Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre offers the SSI Open water diver dourse, the refresher course, SS Advanced Adventurer course, the SSI Stress & Rescue Course, Professional courses such as Divemaster and Open Water Instructor and other Specialty courses where you can learn new skills and boost your confidence in the water.

The price for the SSI Open Water course is AUD 799, which can be considered a bit more expensive compared with other dive centers.

Prices for diving

Two dives with Manta Lodge on any of the Brisbane 15 dive sites costs AUD 155 per person. This is a 4-hour dive trip with free drinks and light snacks on board. There are morning and afternoon trips. Note that dive equipment is not included in the price and should be hired separately.

Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre also offers a triple dive in Cherubs Cave and Hendersons Reef for AUD 320.

Liveaboards in Brisbane

Since most of the Brisbane dive sites are just a few minutes away from the shore, you can easily explore them with the daily dive trips organized by different dive centers in the city. That’s why there are no specific Brisbane liveaboards available. If you want to go on a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard, you can join one of the many Great Barrier Reef liveaboards leaving from Cairns.

For more information about Cairns and Great Barrier Reef liveaboards, refer to our Cairns scuba diving guide.

The best dive sites in Brisbane

Below, we have outlined the best Brisbane dive sites you must experience.

Flinders Reef

This is one of Queensland's most popular dive spots, which is 3 – 28 meters in depth. Flinder reef is a small isolated reef near Moreton Island. It normally takes 1-2 hours to get here.

It has the highest number of coral species along Australia's east coast, where you can see over 112 species of coral here, including many hard and soft coral species. Any divers would find enthusiasm with the many walls, swim-throughs, caves, and pinnacles at Flinders Reef. It is a shelter for almost 200 species of marine life, including fishes, stingrays, wobbegongs, and turtles.

Manta Ray Bommie

Located from the northern tip of North Stradbroke Island, Manta Ray Bommie is just a 15-minute boat ride from the beach. It has a depth of 5-16 meters where you can see the perfect spot of Manta Rays. This incredible sea creature makes Scuba diving in Brisbane more amusing. Manta Rays visit this dive site on a regulary basis as this is a cleaning station. The Manta Rays can suddenly pop-up out of the blue and stay at the cleaning station for a certain time. If the conditions are good, you can stay below the cleaning station so the Manta Rays will fly over very closely. As with other marine sea life, please do not touch this animals, even if there are just 0.5 meters away from you.

The visibility is varying from 20 - 30 meters. At a depth of 8 - 12 meters, you can have the chance to face Leopard Sharks and Loggerhead Turtles.

Shark Alley - Flat Rock

If diving with sharks is one of your travel goals, then Shark Alley is the best dive spot for you. It is located North of North Stradbroke Island, and you can easily access this dive site by boat. The maximum depth of this dive site is up to 35 meters.

Be sure to visit during the colder months from June to October, when you can meet packs of impressive grey nurse sharks as they gather at the spectacular Shark Alley. Tip: do not be afraid for nurse sharks. These nurse sharks are not dangerous for humans. Nurse sharks eat small fishes and other small marine life such as stingrays. For feeding, they will search the sandy bottoms for food.

Curtin Artificial Reef

Located on Moreton Island, Curtin Artificial Reef is also a famous dive spot that has 12-35 meters in depth. It was made in 1968 by the Underwater Research Group of Queensland to serve as the launching of a visionary project. The visibility is varying from 8-25 meters. Today, the artificial reef's pride is an extraordinary array of marine life. If your favorite sea creature is gropers, then diving here is a must for you. Gropers are often spotted swimming around the scuttle ships. And you can also get underwater photo opportunities and are often frequented by wobbegongs, schools of barracuda, and stingrays.

Shag Rock

With 18 meters depth, Shag Rock is one of the best Brisbane dive sites. It is surrounded by rocky reefs and coral gardens, and the visibility is varying from 5-10 m. To reach Shag Rock, you have to ride a boat for approximately 5 minutes away from North Stradbroke Island. Be careful when walking in the sand because a large population of electric rays lives here that are hard to see as they are hidden under the sand. Shag Rock is also a home for species like turtles, wobbegong sharks, brown-banded catsharks, stingrays, stingarees, shovelnose rays, and often visited by pelagic fish.

Smiths Rock

This is the best Brisbane dive spot if you want to explore inside a cave and see big fishes and wrecks. Smiths Rock is located at Moreton Island, Brisbane. This jagged rocky outcrop of Smith Rocks has claimed three ships over the years. You can see the caves, gutters, and ledges colored by soft corals, tubastrea corals, hard corals, and gorgonians with a depth of 20 meters at Smith Rock. Moray eels, turtles, batfish, wobbegongs, brown-banded bamboo sharks, and a wide range of reef fish can also be seen here. The depth for this dive spot varies between 3 -20 meters.

How to get to Brisbane

Brisbane is an ideal starting point for many international travelers when traveling to Australia because of its international airport. There are two options to get to Brisbane:

Option 1: By airplane (domestic or international flight to Brisbane)

Direct flights to Brisbane International Airport are available from many cities in Australia and around the world. If you’re coming from Sydney, you book direct flights to Brisbane here.

Option 2: By airplane, bus and train to Brisbane

As an alternative, you can also book a flight to Gold Coast Airport, then ride the public bus 760 to Varsity Lake Train Station for 30 minutes. At the station, ride the train going to Brisbane Central Station, which will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Visit this site for the bus and train tickets.

Accommodations in Brisbane

The dive centers also offer very good accommodations in Brisbane to make it more convenient for divers. But if you're looking for the best place to enjoy your stay, then here are the top Brisbane accommodations you can choose depending on your budget.

Brisbane City YHA ($/$$)

The Brisbane City YHA is a great choice for backpackers and budget travelers. It’s a nice accommodation rated as very good by travelers. You can stay in a 6-bed dormitory for just USD 20 or a double bedroom for USD 60 and save most of your cash for the dive trips. Brisbane City YHA offers an onsite bar, game, rooms, and a rooftop swimming pool for a stunning view of the city.

The Inchcolm by Ovolo ($$$)

If you have some dollars to spare, why not upgrade to an elegant and luxurious boutique hotel, The Inchcolm by Ovolo. The place is just 19 minutes away from the airport and Brisbane Coast, which is very convenient so you can have more time exploring the best Brisbane dive sites. A stylish suite with large double bed costs around USD 134 per night at The Inchcolm by Ovolo with complimentary access to Fitness First in Elizabeth Street. This accommodation has a 5-star rating and is marked as “Exceptional” by hundreds of reviews.

W Brisbane ($$$)

A “Superb” 5-star hotel based on reviews, W Brisbane is the best choice for divers who want to enjoy luxury while traveling. Located on North Quay right beside the beautiful Brisbane River, W Brisbane has bars, restaurants, a spa, a fitness center, and an urban oasis pool. For USD 332, you can get a spacious bedroom with an extra-large king double bed, 55-inch LED TV, and an in-room mix bar. W Brisbane is just minutes away from many Brisbane dive centers and popular Brisbane attractions.

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