Shore diving isn’t routinely conducted from the Townsville mainland because of poor visibility; however, there are lots of options available around the wider Cleveland and Halifax Bay areas.
Magnetic Island – Sits only 7.4 km (4 NM) north of Townsville and offers both shore based and boat diving. It is serviced by both passenger and vehicle ferries which leave regularly from Townsville.
Great Barrier Reef – Lodestone, Wheeler, and Helix Reefs are perhaps the best known and most visited reefs in the Townsville region, although the area encompasses many more individual reefs, defined and classified under GBRMPA Zoning Map 7. Almost all zoning types are represented here; from Preservation (pink zone), to General Use (light blue zone). The Townsville region extends from Bramble and Trunk Reefs in the north, to Davies and Broadhurst Reefs in the south.
SS Yongala – The former pride of the Adelaide Steam Ship Company; the SS Yongala, tragically sunk during a cyclone off Cape Bowling Green on the 23rd of March 1911, causing the loss of all passengers and crew. Today the wreck is both a living memorial, and a heritage listed world-class dive site. The wreck measures 109 meters in length and rests on its starboard side in 27m (89ft) of water, around 83km (45NM) south of Townsville. It can be accessed from either a Townsville based dive charter, or by first driving 104km (56NM) south to Ayr, and then taking a 20km (11NM) charter out of Alva Beach.
Palm Island Group This island group ranges from 55km (29NM) north to 86km (46NM) north of Townsville. It consists of five major islands; Pelorus, Orpheus, Curacoa, Fantome, and Great Palm, five smaller islands; Esk, Falcon, Brisk, Eclipse, and Barber, and a number of much smaller islets and detached rocks. Of the major islands, Pelorus and Orpheus Islands are the most popular with recreational divers. The Dungeness boat ramp near the township of Lucinda is the favoured launching point for private boats and commercial operators travelling to these islands. Lucinda is around 140km north of Townsville, and the western face of the closest islands are around 16km east of Lucinda.
Bowen – The sea-side town of Bowen is around 200km south of Townsville, and features stunning beaches, bays, and headlands which provide some excellent mainland shore-based diving opportunities. It’s a great spot for weekend trips from Townsville, and also provides a good base from which to explore nearby Middle and Gloucester Islands.
Lake Eacham – This is a freshwater volcanic crater lake sitting 820m above sea level on the Atherton Table Lands, 66km southwest of Cairns near the township of Yungaburra. The lake has long been a popular spot for swimming and kayaking, and it is now becoming more widely used by free-divers, closed-circuit technical divers, and open-circuit recreational divers. The lake has natural stocks of jungle perch, cardinal fish, rifle fish, and red claw crab, and also contains an interesting assortment of sunken artificial attractions; such as small timber vessels.
Local Wrecks – At present, Townsville doesn’t have any artificial wrecks sunk solely for the purpose of recreational diving; however, there are a number of former fishing trawlers, dredge vessels, machinery boats, WWII aeroplanes, and both partially and fully submerged breakwater vessels which are scattered around the Cleveland Bay and Magnetic Island coastline. These local wrecks provide many diving opportunities from shallow and simple dives for novice divers, to deeper and more challenging dives for experienced divers.