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Scuba divers at SS Yongala
Photograph: Tourism and Events Queensland | Scuba Diver Life | SS Yongala

Australia has been ranked as the world’s best spot for scuba diving

You can live your best ‘Little Mermaid’ fantasy in Australia’s spectacular underwater playground

Melissa Woodley
Written by
Melissa Woodley

Australia is home to colourful coral gardens, exotic marine life, spooky caves and crystal-clear water – all the ingredients for a bucket list scuba dive. It’s no surprise then that our coastal country was recently ranked as the best place for scuba diving on the planet.  

The experts at travel insurance site created a ‘wildlife index’ by selecting 200 of the “most iconic species” that travellers might hope to encounter when diving. They then matched these species with countries known for offering optimal opportunities for spotting most of the marine life animals in their natural habitat.

Based on their deep dive, Australia came out on top as the best place to scuba dive worldwide. The crown jewel of Australia’s underwater world is the Great Barrier Reef, which proudly stands as the largest coral reef on Earth, spanning 2,300 kilometres and comprising about 3,000 individual reef systems. Those brave enough to sink below the surface can discover more than 400 types of coral and 2,000 species of fish, including rare pygmy seahorses, playful spinner dolphins, mammoth manta rays and sizeable sharks. That’s not to mention the GBR’s clear turquoise water and glorious sunshine, which makes it a stellar place to scuba dive year-round. 

While the GBR is one of the world’s best coral reefs and one of Australia’s most sought-after tourist hot spots, it’s also one of the most endangered places below deck. Half of the reef’s coral cover has been lost over the past four decades due to coral bleaching, climate change, deadly starfish outbreaks and habitat destruction from tourism. 

Nemo at the  Great Barrier Reef
Photograph: Giorgia Doglioni via Unsplash | Great Barrier Reef

If you’re a keen scuba diver but want to veer away from the crowds, there are plenty of other breathtaking spots to dive in Australia. You can swim with giant groupers and majestic turtles at shipwrecks, including the 110-metre SS Yongala near Townsville and the HMAS Brisbane wreck off the Sunshine Coast. The kelp forests of Tasmania and the World Hetritage-listed Ningaloo Reef in WA are scuba magnets, too. 

According to the study, the US is the second best destination for scuba diving, with Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan tied in third place. You can view the full rankings below:

1. Australia

2. US

3= Indonesia

3= Japan

3= Taiwan

6= Papua New Guinea

6= Philippines

8= Egypt

8= Malaysia

8= New Caledonia


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