These are the best dive sites in Julian Rocks, Byron Bay
Julian rocks is situated within the Cape Byron Marine park in northern NSW, on the east coast of Australia and has been likened to a ‘mini Galapagos’ (Lonely Planet 2014 ) and one of the best dive spots in Australia Julian rocks is home to over 1000 marine species thanks to the convergence of warm and cool waters resulting in this enormous biodiversity. Among the regular species found year round are wobbegong sharks, eagle rays, cuttlefish, king fish, trevally, mulloway, and three different species of sea turtle – Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill. There is an abundance of hard and soft coral. You can also see Manta Rays, Grey Nurse Sharks, and Leopard (Sharks at various times throughout the year).
The Needles: On the south-west tip of the rocks, The Needles are large bommies that come close to the surface. Depths here range from 10 to 15 metres. The current in this site often brings schools of large and small fish, and often huge rays and leopard sharks. Nudibranch lovers will be in heaven.
Cod Hole: The Cod Hole is an underwater swim through around 30 metres from the north-eastern tip of the Rocks. The hole opens at a depth of around 15 metres and slopes down to a depth of 21 metres. Moray eels, blue groupers, wobbegongs and grey nurse frequent this spot.
Hugo’s Trench: This dive spot has sheer walls on either side of the trench, and is frequented by wobbegong sharks, turtles and schools of fish. At a depth of 12 to 18 metres, the trench runs through the rocks, but conditions need to be perfect to attempt a swim through.
The Nursery: Located on the sheltered western side of Julian Rocks, The Nursery is a relatively shallow dive site varying from 5 to 12 metres which is frequented by an abundance of reef fish. This is the primary dive site for beginners, and thanks to its shallow depths is also the most colourful.
The Mohole is a small cave at the southern end of the Needles in about 14 meters depth. Typically, you’d see a huge Loggerhead Turtle sleeping in there.
The Mohole is always worth checking out, you could see big cods getting cleaned, massive Bullrays followed by a school of cobia, huge schools of big Kingfish in a feeding frenzy, never a dull moment. The Line of Smiles is just a short swim from the Mohole, it is a huge crack in a rock wall which is filled to the top with all sorts of interesting Marine Life. Swimming past it, at first glimpse all you can see is a line of Wobbegong Sharks squeezed in there on top of each other looking out which is where the name “Line of Smiles” comes from. At closer inspection (but watch out for those wobbies!), you can see crayfish, Blind Sharks, hundreds of Cleaner Shrimps and little crabs and the occasional Nudibranch or cuttlefish.
These dive sites in Byron Bay are both located on the deeper Eastern side of Julian Rocks where the sandy bottom drops to about 24 meters.
The Cray Cave is another swim-through at about 18 meters depth, but much narrower than the Cod Hole, only high and wide enough for one diver at a time.
The Gorgonian Hollow is a huge horseshoe shaped rock formation in about 22 meters depth. This is a secret spot for Ghost Pipefish which can often be found on the Black Coral inside the Gorgonian Hollow.