Has anyone got any advice on where the best places to LEARN to scuba dive are? I'll be in Australia and New Zealand from February. Obviously Cairns jumps out as the clear choice but I have heard a lot about the Ningaloo Reef. I wasn't really planning on heading out to Western Australia but it's an option. If anyone's been on diving around Ningaloo or in Cairns I'd greatly appreciate some opinions! Thanks!
I haven't been diving on either, but I'd recommend the one that is the furthest north (or south if you are on the northern hemisphere). The warmer the water, the more colorful the reef. I don't know much about ningaloo, but from what I've heard the reef near Cairns is amazing! Oh, and the benefit of being in a place where there's a lot of interest in diving is that there will also be a lot of dive schools, a lot of competition and therefore better prices.
Check out the Pro Dive site; hear they are pretty good.
ps. I got my padi in the Mauritius; also pretty sweet but a bit far away from where you're headed I'm guessing
I've heard amazing things about Ningaloo, I'll let you know what it's like in a few months when I get there. For Cairns, like Sam said, you want to get as far north as possible, not just for temp, but pollution and tourists. we did a trip w/ TAKA, they were great value, although not a teaching trip. I'd check their site, I'm sure they'll do one.
DO NOT book through a "tourist info" booth in Cairns for your lesson. they charge a booking fee--we'd've saved $150 each if we'd booked directly with Taka. although, that same guy saved us a lot of money for a package whitsundays fraser deal, and we were very happy. so keep your head and check your options.
definately get out to the "outer reef" and cod hole! enjoy!
Cairns has a lot of dive operations but they typically dive the overused sites in the Great Barrier Reef where there are declining fish stocks and coral on its last legs. You won't get the best diving here but you will get a fairly cheap PADI licence. I've heard some good things about TAKA but we didn't dive with them.
In terms of Ningaloo Reef I understand the diving is excellent - but unfortunately we didn't get over to WA on our trip. You won't be diving with hundreds of others at the same time and the reef is full of life still. This will probably be a much better experience but I couldn't tell you about prices.
Check out the SS Yongala ship wreck dive as its simply amazing. Its off the coast at Ayr, just south of Townsville and there are two operators that dive this site - Yongala Dive and another from Magnetic Island who you can also learn with. This is a MUST DO dive in Oz and its one of the top ten wreck dives in the world.
Thanks for all the help! I'm looking forward to diving (no pun intended) into some warm water, the cold Northern Hemisphere is starting to get to me! A couple months and I'll be there!
I am based in Sydney and have just started diving myself. There is diving to be had all down the East coast of Australia.
I recently returned from Lady Elliot island on a snorkelling trip for 7 days, but can't wait to go back there for the diving.
The resort itself was pretty basic, but the food was great (breakfast and dinners included in overnight packages; lunches were about AU$10 per day). The snorkelling was fantastic (and straight off the shore), so can only imagine what the divers saw. We saw about 20 different types of butterflies, rays, reefsharks, sevreal types of wrasse, turtles, eels, damsels, tuskfish, anenome fish, humpbacks and dolphins. We were also lucky enough to see two juvenile sun fish! If you would like to see some pics, send me an email..
Getting there is pretty easy. Take a flight to Fraser Coast Airport (Harvey Bay) and the resort's plane will take you from there..
Lady Elliot is great if (like me) you get seasick and can't handle the thought of a 2 hour trip to the outer reef (from cairns) or a live aboard trip.
I have seen pics of WA and diving with whale sharks and dugongs over there and it looks awesome. You might also look at Christmas Is and Cocos Is if you want to do more of WA. I have travelled with Dive Adventures (www.diveadventures.com.au) and know that they both run trips over there and looked after me well.