Shore diving in South Australia: Part 2 – Rapid Bay Jetty


CJ and Mike continue their South Australia shore diving adventures…

Rapid Bay Jetty

The next day the weather forecast was looking a bit better and it was time to check out Rapid Bay Jetty to see if we could find some leafy seadragons!  Rapid Bay is an excellent spot for anyone wishing to see leafy seadragons, they seem to thrive here and the dive is shallow and access easy.

We enjoyed the drive and got to see a kangaroo bounding across the road in front of us, having just passed the sign warning us of such.  We managed to get a parking space not too far from the jetty and kitted up.  The walk was not for the fainthearted, but the return dive route to the ‘Tee’ and right was fantastic.  The conditions were good and aside from numerous fish and nudibranchs we got to see two leafy seadragons!  We enjoyed it so much we went in for a second dive, to revisit the second leafy and get some more photos.

Rapid Bay Jetty dive details:

  • Dive level:  Easy.
  • Depth: 12m
  • Type: Shore dive – Jetty, Photography, Night.
  • Vis: 10m
  • Marine Life:  Invertebrates, schools of fish, rays, leafy seadragons.
  • Entry:  Steps
  • Water temp:  18-21 degrees C (65-70F)
  • Facilities:  Car park, toilets at nearby campground.

Rapid Bay Jetty is about 1hr 20mins from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula and has a 450m pier, extending 360m north from shore, then angling to the right for a further 80m and ending in a 200m wharf that used to support ships coming to load up with crushed limestone from the quarry.

The old pier is now in a state of disrepair and is closed to public access, but a new jetty has been built for pedestrians, fishermen and access for divers, 50m away from the original, running parallel for 240m.  The new pier has a dedicated entry point for divers at the end, with stairs down to an entry platform and ladder.  The stairs have been designed with divers in mind, with nice shallow steps, so its easy to climb them after a dive.

The Jetty is very popular, being a relatively shallow shore dive, protected from prevailing weather for most directions and host to a large variety of fish including the iconic leafy seadragon. The site is very highly regarded for underwater photography and night dives.

Maximum depth at the end of the old jetty is 12 m at high tide while an average depth at the end of the old jetty of 8m.  The maximum depth at end of the new jetty is about 5-6m and you can surface swim or descend and swim west across to the old pier, which is better for diving and spotting Leafy Seadragons,.

Vehicles can be parked by the new jetty, but the parking area is long and narrow, so you may have a longer walk if the car park is busy.  Public toilets are located in the District Council of Yankalilla campground about 650m to the east.  This is a rural area, so it’s best to get food and drink in one of the towns on the way.  There is no air filling station, so come with enough tanks for the days diving and a spares kit is useful.  The car park is dusty so a ground sheet is useful for setting up equipment in the car park in order to keep equipment clean.

The walk to the entry point is about 240m so some divers like to use a handcart to transport their gear to beside the entry point to kit up.  Keep an eye on your air if you want to dive the ‘Tee’ where big schools of fish are known to gather, as the swimming distance is quite long.  The old pier is covered in life and so dives can be on any section, depending on your air consumption and fitness. If driving south after your dive, do be aware that the road exceeds 300m in altitude and must be taken into account when considering increased DCI risk after diving.

Next up… Noarlunga Reef.

For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at

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