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:


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 the 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.

Indonesia: Where to Stay and Scuba

Escape to the volcanic deeps of Indonesia…

Certain honeymooners and travellers will favour locations such as Hawaii and Australia for their first-world facilities, but there’s a lot to be said for the diving in more affordable parts of the world.

Indonesia is a country that has struggled with widespread poverty for decades, yet despite this its infrastructure has been steadily improving making it a more attractive destination with each passing year, not just to travellers but also to divers looking to explore warm waters that are full of life. Divers who are willing to make the journey are rewarded with good value, comfortable accommodations as well as reasonable rates at diving centres.

These dive-spots deliver on beauty and adventure, but it’s important to check the safety record of any foreign diving centre and insist on checking their paperwork before you use them:

East Nusa Tenggara

You might well notice that the poverty is worse in East Nusa Tenggara than other parts of Indonesia, but that doesn’t mean that you should leave it out of your travel plans. The locals here are working hard to improve the tourist business making it an excellent place to visit, as long as you’re happy investing in relatively new ventures.

Who to scuba with: Manta Rhei Dive Center

Nearly 20 years ago, Benny took his first diving course back in his home of Belgian. He caught the diving bug and was soon travelling the world diving as much as he could and picking up instructor certificates along the way. Soon the whole family were following in his footsteps helping him to set up Manta Rhei Dive Center in the process.

Where to stay: Ciao Hostel

Purpose built in 2016 this hostel offers unparalleled sea views, as well as comfortable clean beds and friendly staff. The bar serves a decent range of food and drinks making it a perfect place to relax in after a long day in the sea.

Gili Islands

Three tiny islands constitute the Gili Islands which are situated just off the North West coast of Lombok Island, there are no cars on the island with all transport being supplied by bicycle or horse. Although I can’t recommend spending more than a few days here it could serve as a perfect pit stop on your Indonesia diving adventure.

Who to scuba with: Gili Island Diving Center

This small but capable company is based on the quieter islands of Air and Meno where you can gain full PADI training certificates, as well as be within just a few minutes of excellent dive spots with plenty of sea life to keep you satisfied.

Where to say: Gili Air Hostel

Traditional Javanese buildings meets contemporary design at Gili Air Hostel where you’ll be able to sleep at peace in joglos for a very small price. Tapered terracotta roofs, walnut modern doors and swinging hammocks make this the ultimate Indonesian chill-out spot within walking distance of fun island based activities.


The city of Sabang is spread out over a number of islands with Weh Island serving as the hub for all of them. It’s far less populated than the other cities in Indonesia making it perfect for travellers who would like to experience the bustle of an Indonesian city but don’t quite fancy braving the streets of Jakarta.

Who to scuba with: Lumba Lumba Diving Center

Perfectly located just 5 minutes away from some truly stunning coral reefs, this Dutch-Indonesian outfit are true professionals who have been operating for 20 years from Gapang Beach. Their well run dive shop has a real welcoming vibe and has become a hub for local enthusiasts.

Where to stay: Treetop Guesthouse & Bungalows

Spend your days in the water then your evenings in the trees! The guesthouses and bungalows on offer here range from £13 to £21 per night, giving you respite from the hostel dorms and time to enjoy the stunning views.