Located on the southern coast of Western Australia, in the Southern Ocean, you would expect Albany to have cold waters and temperate species. However, washed by the warm waters of the southern flowing Leeuwin Current, the rocky reefs off Albany are home to a strange mix of corals and sponges, and tropical and temperate species. Albany has a wonderful array of dive sites, including a number of artificial reefs, with popular dive sites including HMAS Perth, Chetnes III, Breaksea Island and Michaelmas Island.
Busselton's main claim to fame is having the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, and at 1841m long, it is very long. This jetty is also Busselton's number one dive site, with its pylons covered in corals and the jetty playing host to an incredible variety of species. However, Busselton also has other wonderful dive sites, including rocky reefs at Four Mile Reef and Forrest Reef, and a former navy destroyer, HMAS Swan.
Exmouth is the northern gateway to Ningaloo Reef, a 260km long barrier reef that fringes the desert coastline of North West Cape. Famous for its whale sharks, seen from March to August, Ningaloo Reef has many features that make it worth exploring at anytime of the year. At Ningaloo Reef divers will see turtles, manta rays, sharks, gropers, schooling fish and many other species at sites like Central Station, Mandu Wall and Colosseum. But from Exmouth divers can also explore the nearby Muiron Islands, the limestone reefs of Lighthouse Bay and also one of the fishiest dive sites in Australia, the incredible Navy Pier.
The Mackerel Islands are a collection of barren islands off the coast of Onslow. They are not visited by many divers, not because the diving is poor, but because there are no dive operators in the area. This is unfortunate as the islands have incredible diving at sites like Trap Reef, Black Flag, Stonehenge and Rankin Reef. The limestone reefs at the Mackerel Islands are covered in corals and play host to sharks, sea snakes, gropers, rays, wobbegongs, turtles and a great variety of smaller critters like nudibranchs, crustaceans and molluscs.
Like the remote Coral Sea reefs off Queensland, Western Australia also has a series of offshore reefs off its northeast coast. The Rowley Shoals are three atoll-like reefs 300km west of Broome. These remote reefs are only visited by liveaboard boats in spring, but offer a great mix of coral gardens and wall dives. Covered in healthy and beautiful corals, the Rowley Shoals are a great place to see sharks, pelagic fish and good variety of reef fishes. Popular dive sites include Blue Lagoon, Clerke Wall and Sheer Delight on Clerke Reef and Cod Hole and Mermaid Wall on Mermaid Reef.
Other great dive destinations off Western Australia and not covered in this portfolio include Esperance, Bremer Bay, Bunbury, Perth, Abrolhos Islands, Coral Bay and the Australian territories of Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling Islands. If you want to learn more about the incredible dive sites around Australia grab a copy of my book - UNDERWATER AUSTRALIA.