INSIDER SECRET: YOU DON'T NEED TO GO TO THE GREAT BARRIER REEF OR NINGALOO TO SEE BEAUTIFUL CORALS
With the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef on one side and Ningaloo Reef on the other, Australia is a top destination for exploring the underwater world. But Queensland and Western Australia are not the only destinations where you can see beautiful corals in Australia.
If you’re exploring the New South Wales coast, don’t miss these four spots, from north to south:
1. Cook Island
When you discover the underwater world around Cook Island near the Gold Coast, only 600 metres away from the Tweed Coast in New South Wales, you may wonder if you’ve been sent to these dreamy islands with the same name in the heart of the South Pacific. It’s one of the best spots in the region for snorkellers to enjoy the best things a coral reef can offer. As you swim around a stunning mix of colourful hard and soft corals, you can encounter turtles, schools of tropical fish, beautiful sea slugs and many clownfish.
Cook Island is just near where the Tweed River merges with the ocean. After your visit to the coral reef, explore the Tweed River by joining the ecotourism-certified Catch-a-Crab Tour.
2. Solitary Islands
It takes more than one hour by boat to reach the Solitary Islands from Coffs Harbour, but it’s worth the effort for coral lovers. You may be surprised to hear that the coral gardens in the Solitary Islands have more plate corals than the Great Barrier Reef itself!
3. Port Stephens
Port Stephens is famous for being Australia’s dolphin capital and a fantastic place to see whales in winter. Those in the loop also know it as one of the best shore dive sites in Australia. A few metres away from the car park, an exciting underwater treasure hunt for seahorses, sea slugs, wobbegongs, cuttlefish and many other beautiful creatures awaits as you search the kelp or the clumps of corals and sponges.
And if you’re up for adventures further away from the coast, our ECO certified operators Imagine Cruises and Moonshadow Cruises – TQC can take you to Fingal island, Cabbage Tree Island or Broughton Island.
Photo: Imagine Cruises
4. Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is often pictured with the stunning Hyams Beach, known to have one of the whitest sands in the world next to stunning aqua waters. Visitors who also put their head underwater in the Jervis Bay Marine Park know that the beauty of the place doesn’t stop above the surface. Marine life is abundant, and you’ll find sites with impressive soft coral gardens.
Photo: Jervis Bay Wild
If you prefer to stick to the surface to explore the stunning marine park, our eco-certified operator Jervis Bay Wild has the adventure you’re looking for.