Snorkelling and diving

Photo credit: © Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Snorkel or dive beneath the ocean's surface and discover Queensland’s spectacular underwater world.

Queensland’s coastline is dotted with coastal and island national parks, and is also home to 4 marine parks, as well as the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. What better place to start exploring with mask and snorkel or dive gear!

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park, Great Sandy Marine Park and Moreton Bay Marine Park all boast a huge diversity of marine life including inquisitive dolphins, majestic whales, brilliant tropical fish, ancient sea turtles and shimmering coral reef and seagrass beds.

You can snorkel from the shore or from a boat at certain locations in Queensland’s marine parks and off the coast of many of our island national parks. Guided tours are popular, or if you’re experienced, don your gear and head for the water (which is that particular shade of turquoise blue you’ve probably never seen before).

Where to go snorkelling and diving

Here’s just a taste of some of the top places to go snorkelling.

Northern coast

The top end of Queensland is a diving and snorkelling mecca, with reef tours departing from Cairns and Port Douglas for amazing locations within the Great Barrier Reef. Head out to one of the many reef destinations, like Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park, or take a day trip to the ever-popular Green Island National Park. This rainforest-laden cay is home to an abundance of turtles, stingrays, tropical fish and many kinds of corals.

Lizard Island National Park is home to the popular snorkelling site at Watsons Bay known as the Clam Gardens. Here giant clams, up to 2m in length, live among a picturesque array of hard and soft corals.

Central coast

The Whitsundays offer some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world! Enjoy one of the many excellent sites around Hook Island or the popular Border Island site of Cateran Bay, both part of Whitsunday Island National Park. Join a reef tour to experience the famous marine wonderlands of Black Island, the Stepping Stones, Blue Pearl Bay and the Cathedral.

Southern coast

The coral-built islands of Capricornia Cays National Park are the launching pad to Queensland’s easiest dive sites—straight off the beach. Dive sites off North Stradbroke and Moreton islands in Moreton Bay Marine Park are on Brisbane’s doorstep. And, for something a little different, there’s always ex-HMAS Brisbane off the Sunshine Coast—an incredible variety of fish and other marine life now call this old warship home. The Great Sandy Marine Park also has a number of artificial reef sites, including the ex-HMAS Tobruk off the Bundaberg Coast.

Parks and forests with snorkelling and diving

Staying safe

Safety is vitally important when you're exploring the underwater world, as the ocean is simply not our natural habitat! Make sure you are fit and healthy, and take precautions before heading off.

Check out our advice for water safety while snorkelling and diving and find out how to care for our parks—and the reef—while you're out there.

Check Park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions before visiting any of our parks or forests.