Shore Dive Nelson Bay
For the most biodiverse shore diving along Australia’s East Coast join the team at Feet First Dive – Nelson Bay. Our protected estuary & exposed coastline provides numerous dive sites easily accessible from the shore, whilst our experienced dive professionals are on hand to assist & guide you through the sites we call home. We’ll help you find all manner of creatures & critters, all the way from the pelagic sharks & turtles to our macro critters including our resident nudibranchs. To date there are over 250 sea slug species found locally in our magnificent Port Stephens waterways.
On most weekdays & each weekend, our Feet First Dive professionals lead daily shore diving excursions within the Nelson Bay area. We help you choose dive sites based on the optimum conditions on the day, and the marine life you are expecting to see. Dive stunning soft coral & sea sponge gardens, explore critter covered historic wrecks, enjoy your macro critter hunt, or find what is lurking within the seagrass beds. Get the most out of your time underwater & dive Nelson Bay to its fullest with our fun, friendly, & knowledgeable team.
Shore Dives are TIDE DEPENDANT – for the best/safest conditions we normally dive HIGH (slack) TIDE
WATER TEMP: Average = 18C Range = 16-23C
Pre-BOOKING is ESSENTIAL for Guided Dives
Dive Sites of Nelson Bay
Fly Point (5m-28m)
Rated the best shore-access dive on the Eastern sea-board of Australia, it is clearly one of the most popular shore dives in Nelson Bay. “Fly” is known for it’s wealth of biodiversity, & easy natural navigational markings, making it a relatively shallow, creature packed, stress-free dive site. You can easily find nudibranchs inhabiting all depth contours, wobbegong sharks laying over orange bowl corals, & one of our 4 resident green sea turtles often resting under the 5-7m kelp covered ledge. As you dive into deeper water down the coral covered slope, “the ledge” is the favourite spot for most divers. Often called the “fish bowl” the east-west running 12-14m ledge is a refuge for large & small creatures alike. It’s where we see a wider variety of fish life including the stunning Pineapple-fish & sawtail surgeonfish. Directly to the north of the ledge is our vast sponge and gorgonian “Soft Coral Garden” (14m-26m). The undulating topography is an ideal place for engrossing yourself in a critter hunt, or just experiencing the beauty of nutrient-rich bed of filter-feeders & the creatures that call the gardens home. Also commonly seen throughout the site are Eastern blue groupers, varieties of leather-jacket & morwong, schools of bream, moray & conger eels, cowries & pipefish. After enjoying slack time on the ledge or in the gardens, by slowly heading south up the slope, we complete our dive with a safety stop traversing the 5-7m ledge in an easterly direction, then up & over the shallow seagrass beds to the exit, where many juvenile fish & botton-dwellers are found.
Additional Marine Life: Anglerfish, Port Jackson & Crested-Horn Sharks, Blind Sharks, Shovel-nosed Rays, Estuary Catfish, Eastern Frogfish, Octopus, Tomato Cod, Eastern Wirrah, Porcupine & Toadfish, Longfin Pyke, Snapper, Goatfish, Mados, & Bullseyes
Best Dive Time: High Tide
The Pipeline (3m-16m)
This is one of our favourite macro critter diving sites; especially for NIGHT Divers. Cruising across the sloping seagrass and soft coral beds we come to the pipe, which lies in between several coral & sponge encrusted mooring blocks. Here we are more likely to encounter the White’s seahorses, Ornate ghost pipefish and of course many nudibranchs. Polycera capensis or “The Punk” as they’re commonly named, is a favourite for most photographers due to their contrasting black & white striped mantle, which is complimented by their bright yellow appendages. The Pipeline is also a haven for numerous cephalopods, with regular sightings of cuttlefish, blue-lined octopus & the inconspicuous Pyjama squid.
Additional Marine Life – Wobbegong Sharks, Moray Eels, Cowries, Decorator crabs, Cowfish/Turretfish
Little Beach (3m-16m)
Descending in a westerly direction along the sandy beach slopes & beds of ribbon weed, we come to the Little Beach Boathouse jetty, which is only a 3-5m deep but bursting with fish life & provides fabulous wide-angle photo opportunities, especially on sunny days with perfect natural lighting. The pier’s pylons are covered with sponges & algaes where nudibranchs, shrimp & crabs like to hang out too. A short ~100m westerly swim from the jetty in approx 10-12m lies the sunken wreckage of a barge, ideal for sightings of tropical fish, including pineapple fish, wrasse and pomfreds/bullseyes. Between the wreckage & the pier are fields of soft coral plumes, with yellow gorgonian fans where seahorses & cowries are often found. When cruising over the sand beds sting rays and cuttlefish are your most likely encounter.
Additional Marine Life – Anglerfish, Rough Flutemouth, Eastern Blue grouper, Ghostpipefish, Pygmy leatherjacket, Moray eels, Wobbegong & Blind Sharks, schools of Striped Catfish
Halifax Park (5m-30m)
Rocky ledges covered in sponges creates a habitat for amazing diversity of species making Halifax one of the most popular deeper/advanced sites to dive in Nelson Bay. The “Twin Bommies” (20m) offers a colourful carpet of sponges, gorgonians & ascidians. The bommies provide safety & protection for a wide variety of creatures from yellow & black stripeys to nudibranchs, flatworms, & makes for a great place to hover & wait for the pelagic passer-bys. Spot mating red-gilled nembrothas & discover large dorids carousing between the sponges. There are plenty of other oddly shaped bottom dwellers along with many species of reef fish including butterfly fish, emperors and rabbitfish.
Additional Marine Life – Wobbegongs, Kingfish, Silver Drummers, Moray Eels, Maori Cod, Eastern Wirrah, Blind Sharks
Best Dived – incoming drift diving to High Tide
Marine Life – blind sharks, pygmy leatherjackets, pipefish, squid, octopus, swimming anemones
Nelson Bay Shore Dive Prices $25-$140
- $25 – Guide (only)
- $50 – Tank + Guide
- $65 – Tank + Weights + Guide
- $120 – Tank + Weights + BC + Regs + Guide
- $130 – Tank + Weights + BC + Regs + Wetsuit (7mm or 5mm) + Guide
- $140 – Tank + FULL EQUIPMENT Hire + Guide
Feet First Dive also run boat diving trips to nearby Broughton Island, a haven for our endangered Grey Nurse Sharks. Cabbage Tree Island boasts some interesting wreckage & is home to our endemic nudibranch Nembrotha rosannulata “The Donut Nembrotha”, as well as a home to the threatened Gould’s Petrel. Whilst nearby wrecks of the S.S.Oakland & S.S.Macleay entice the lovers of rust.