Liveaboard Diving in Western Australia
Less instantly famous than the Great Barrier Reef but just as stunning, the Rowley Shoals off Australia’s Western coast offer some stunning reefs in pristine conditions away from the crowds.
The Rowley Shoals located 300 kilometres from the nearest port in Broome Western Australia. The reefs, named after Captain Rowley who first sighted the sunken atolls in 1800. Before this early visitors were Indonesian fishermen collecting sea cucumbers, turtle shells and shark fins.
Tourism in the Shoals began in 1997 with charter boats taking guests for deep sea fishing and scuba diving expeditions. The three reefs are under the protection of two marine parks. This ensures the preservation of this amazing area which boasts pristine reefs.
Western Australia marine life here is unparalleled in its abundance and composition; there are over 200 species of corals including 28 varieties of staghorn coral alone. There are over 650 species of fish that are present, and they can more characteristic of South East Asia than other Australia reefs.
Larger visitors include some sightings of Hammerhead sharks and migrating humpback whales are often heard singing by the divers while underwater.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Liveaboard Diving in Western Australia - 4 LIVEABOARDS
Coral Expeditions I Liveaboard in Australia
An Australian boutique liveaboard with scuba diving on some itineraries.Book Now
Coral Discoverer Liveaboard in Australia
A liveaboard in Australia that offers adventure cruises with scuba diving on some itinerariesBook Now
Diving in Australia West Coast
Liveaboard cruises cover the Rowley Shoals and Kimberly area of western Australia. The Kimberly liveaboards concentrate on terrestrial excursions but offer divers a chance to enjoy the underwater world this area has to offer. The Rowley Shoals liveaboard visits the pristine reef which offer some exciting diving. There can be a 4m tidal range at these atolls that flow to the inside and outside of the lagoons via channels. They are also famous for the shelf atolls which are considered unmatched anywhere in Australia or even world wide.
Best Places for Diving in Western Australia
The three reefs that comprise the Rowley Shoals are Mermaids, Clerke and Imperieuse Reef, they are located on a continental shelf and are the remains of three volcanos that rose from the sea bed.
They cover over 80km2 each and are all pear drop shaped with almost vertical walls descending to over 440m of depth in places.
There are renowned for the pristine coral life which has giant clams, potato cod and many reef fish that are curious of divers, they will actually swim close and seem to follow you around the reef. Many species not found on close to shore reefs are often seen and the reefs are on the migration route for humpback and other whales.
One of the main attractions to the Rowley Shoals is the diverse topography within the reef systems, lagoons, canyons, drifts, coral gardens, walls and swim throughs can all be experienced within the once cruise.
Despite the very short dive season Rowley shoals is an upcoming destination that many divers want to visit making spaces onboard a cruise limited.
You can read about the diving in Western Australia and learn about the dive sites in more detail on our Western Australia Dive Sites page.
Best Dive Sites in Western Australia
In Western Australia it is easy for liveaboards to cover a vast variety of dive sites. The Rowley Shoals are only visited by liveaboards and offer some of the best dive sites in Australia. You can more about these places and more in the Western Australia Dive Sites section.
A deep water drop-off from a sheer wall descending to over 80m in depth, this is combined with 40m + visibility offer some fantastic topography. Look for huge gorgonian sea fans, tuna and turtles here.
This site has fantastic soft coral coverage and juvenile grey reef sharks along with white tip reef sharks circling in mating rituals.
Jimmy goes to China
This unusually named site is famed for the shark action and many pelagic sightings along the 40m wall. Currents can run actively here which entice the grey reef and silver tip sharks in the deep water. Joining the action in the coral covered walls are schools of fusileers, barracuda and snappers.
Vee in the Wall and Odyssey Alley
These sites are both located at the reef edge that then descends to the deep ocean floor, here sailfish, and humpback whales can be seen.
Read more information about Western Australia Dive Sites
Most divers when they think of diving in Australia go directly to the GBR, Rowley Shoals offers something different with uncrowded reefs and fabulous marine life.
For more information about Western Australia Dive Sites, please click on the photo.
Western Australia Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common Sightings – Giant Clams, Turtles, Humphead Parrot fish, Whitecap reef sharks, Potato Cod
- Special Sightings – Humpback Whales, Manta Rays, Hammerhead sharks,
- Topography - lagoons, coral bommies, canyons, swim-throughs drift dives and cave dives.
- Visibility - 20m+ up to 50m
- Certification recommendations - Diving in Eastern Australia is available for all certified divers, and conditions are usually easy. There are some drift dives in the Rowley Shoals.
- Onboard options - Snorkelling, land excursions for Kimberly area.
Best Time to Go
Rowley Shoals offers diving during the short season of October to December each year. During this short season the water is clear with over 20m visibility and the water is warm. At 27 to 30 C most divers can use a 3mm shorty suit for the liveaboard. Mornings and evenings can have cooler air temperatures so some warm clothes are recommended on board.
How to Get There
To join the cruises to Rowley Shoals they will depart from Broome, an international flight to Perth is usually the most common way to arrive, then a connecting local flight to Broome. There are also connecting flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin and Brisbane.