Shore diving in South Australia: Part 3 – Noarlunga Reef


CJ and Mike continue their South Australia shore diving adventures…

Noarlunga Reef

The forecast looked good and after a fair bit of driving the last two days, we decided to visit the very popular Noarlunga Reef, only 25mins down the road from our accommodation.  The dive is known for an underwater trail that guides divers from the end of the jetty round the reef, informing them about the life and processes that shaped the reef.  It is a protected area and we thought diving a reef would make a change from the jetty dives of the previous days.

The surface conditions looked good, but underwater there was pretty poor visibility and an annoying swell to contend with.  We did an 80min dive, with a max depth of 10m and saw a large ray and a big shoal of mackerel, but little else.  I can definitely see why this is a very popular training site as the inner reef is protected and shallow and apparently some big stuff can be seen on the outer reef if lucky.  For us, it was nice to be diving, but not as exceptional as either Edithburgh or Rapid Bay.  This was partly down to the conditions which may be due to the state of the tide.  I would be interested in doing this site again on high slack, with good weather.

Noarlunga Reef dive details:

  • Dive level:  Easy.
  • Depth: 20m at ‘The Gap’.
  • Type: Shore dive – Reef.
  • Vis: 5m+
  • Marine Life:  50 species of fish.
  • Entry:  Steps
  • Water temp:  18-21 degrees C (65-70F)
  • Facilities:  Car park, toilets, shops and water sport centre.

The Reef is part of the Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve, South Australia’s most frequented and best known aquatic reserve.  It has over 200 species of marine plants and animals, and more than 50 species of fish.  There is an easy access point for divers and snorkelers to see a temperate reef system.  Over a thousand divers visit the reef each summer, many completing training here, so it can get a little busy!

An underwater trail consisting of 12 underwater markers provides information about the reef and what you can see, 7 markers are placed on the inside of the reef, number 8 is in the “Gap” which leads to the outside of the reef where there are a 4 further markers.  The current through the gap can be quite strong and it is quite deep.

The average depth of the dive site is about 5 – 7 metres.  The best access to the reef is via the last set of steps on the jetty, which is 300m long, so a trolley can be used to carry your equipment. The reef is the best part of this dive (although the jetty can be a very good night dive).

The reef is right next to the end of the jetty, you can go south (left) to follow the underwater trail that is set up here.  You can also head north (right) and follow the reef that way.  It’s easy to navigate, keep the rocks to one side on the way out and on the other side on the way back in until you reach the jetty again.  On high tide you can climb over the reef and jump in on the other side and you’re good on your air you can then dive back to the jetty.  There are always fishermen on the jetty so keep an eye out for fishing lines and stay under the jetty if in shallower water.  The watersports centre next to the jetty has toilets, a cafe and is 100m from the car park.

We had planned to do another leafy seadragon dive at Rapid Bay, but despite an alright forecast when we got there it was too rough to dive, so we went for an explore of the Fleurieu Peninsula, round to Victor Harbour, where in the evenings you can do Little Penguin tours on Granite Island.  We enjoyed pottering round a bit before heading back to Adelaide to drop our tanks and weights back to the friendly folks at Diving Adelaide, and heading back to wash our kit and dry it before packing for the flight to Brisbane.

Our trip here has been great, enough good weather to get the dives we wanted done and we loved seeing the leafy seadragons!  There is also great white shark diving further along the coast for those with a bit more time and a love for sharky action.  If you are headed to Australia, Adelaide may not be the first place you think about diving, but do! There is some fantastic and varied diving in South Australi – it’s definitely worth a visit!

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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