Australia: Where to Stay and Scuba

Quintessential diving and stunning reefs await in Australia

For most parents the prospect of sending their kids to the other end of the earth is simply not worth considering, yet each year this exact thing happens.

Australia is one of the largest populated land masses in the world with thousands of square kilometres of outback to explore full of wild and wonderful creatures. As much as there is life to discover in the outback, it’s hardly surprising that the majority of the country’s population lives next to the coast. Although the waters surrounding Australia are known for the high-concentration of sharks and jelly-fish, the abundance of stunning coral reefs and huge variety of friendly marine life make this a must-visit destination for all divers. If you’re looking for casual work there are plenty of oven cleaning professionals who can do with a helping hand during the height of BBQ season, or you can ask around at bars and restaurants to pick up some quick cash.

The three months I spent drifting between the hostels and towns of Australia were by far some of the most memorable times I’d spent abroad, made even better by the truly excellent folks working in the diving centres in these hot-spots:

Cairns

Considered by many to be the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a perfect introduction to diving in Australia; the waters are crystal clear, marine life is in abundance and there’s a fantastic backpacking scene that will guarantee you’ll meet some new people. Due to its popularity Cairns is packed all year round, so don’t expect to find a peaceful place to relax.

Who to scuba with: Diving Cairns

Decades of experience back Cairns’ most popular Diving Centre making it a solid choice for beginners and Divemasters alike. You can get your Open Water qualification here as well as further certificates should you wish – they also offer a variety of packages that include accommodation in hotels/hostels and transport between them and your dives.

Where to stay: Caravella Backpackers

Comfort, cleanliness and value are at the heart of what Caravella Backpackers offer which treated me just fine when I stayed there years ago. Since then they’ve done a great job of updating the place and keeping it looking fresh so that it feels a cut above the rest of the hostels in the area.

Port Douglas

Just up the coast from Cairns is theĀ slightly less busy Port Douglas a fun port town that gives you some stunning coastal view as well as easy access to the Northern regions of the Coral Reef. If you happen to want a break from the sea you’re also right on the door step of Daintree National Park.

Who to scuba with: Blue Dive

Blue Dive have been around for a while and its thanks to this experience that they’ve been able to secure exclusive access to some of the best dive sites in the area such as The Nursery, Helms Deep and Turtle Bay. The Agincourt Ribbon Reefs are their favoured destination and are sure to bring you up close to plenty of wildlife.

Where to stay: Coral Beach Lodge

Although you can choose to stay with Blue Dive as well, Coral Beach Lodge is located nearby and will give you a chance to take a break from the scuba crowd and meet some new people. Dorms are affordable, but their private rooms are also great options for those looking to stay a bit longer.