Bare Island, just off the coast of Sydney, is a scuba diver’s paradise. With its rich history, diverse marine life, and accessible shore dives, it’s no wonder this underwater wonderland attracts divers of all levels. But before you plunge into the deep blue, here’s what you need to know to have an unforgettable Bare Island scuba diving experience.
I had heard numerous raving reviews about Bare Island, with divers expressing their awe at the beauty of this underwater spot. Interestingly, my dive at Bare Island wasn’t initially part of the plan. Seeking a shore dive during my Christmas break, I booked a guided shore dive. On the morning of the dive, the dive centre staff informed me that Camp Cove was the chosen location, boasting incredible visibility. However, in a sudden turn of events, Camp Cove was cancelled at the last moment, and Bare Island became the unexpected but intriguing dive destination.
PIN for later reference – Bare Island Scuba Diving
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Where is Bare Island?
Situated in the La Perouse area of Sydney, Bare Island is a heritage-listed islet within the Botany Bay National Park. Once a residence for war veterans, it is now accessible via a timber footbridge from the La Perouse mainland.
Important to note: There are no cafes in the vicinity of the dive site. It’s recommended to bring your lunch with you before heading to Bare Island.
An interesting tidbit: The bridge linking Bare Island and the La Perouse mainland gained cinematic fame in Mission Impossible 2, featuring a scene where Tom Cruise rides his bike across it.
How to Get to Bare Island?
The distance from Sydney Central Business District (CBD) to Bare Island is approximately 17 kilometres, with a drive taking about 20 to 30 minutes.
There is a street car park (4P) near Bare Island, providing convenient parking. Essential to remember: The parking ticket allows for a complimentary 4-hour duration. La Perouse tends to experience high congestion, especially during weekends.
By Public Transport
Bare Island is conveniently accessible from the Circular Quay bus stop.
- Bus – By bus, the Anzac Pde Terminus is the nearest stop to Bare Island, requiring a 6-minute walk covering a distance of 500 meters. Regular buses connect the Circular Quay bus stop and Anzac Pde Terminus, with the journey taking approximately 50 minutes.
- For those heading to La Perouse (bus numbers 392, 394, and 399), the Anzac Pde Terminus is the relevant stop.
- For the latest and most accurate information on bus routes and timings, it’s advisable to check Transport for New South Wales (NSW).
- Public transport fares can be conveniently paid in Sydney using credit/debit or Opal transportation cards.
Dive Site at Bare Island
The weather conditions were quite challenging during my dive at Bare Island. The visibility presented a peculiar pattern, alternating between moments of clarity and instances where it became notably poor and murky.
Also, Read – La Perouse to Maroubra Walk
Nevertheless, I managed to have an enjoyable dive by concentrating on my buoyancy. I made a conscious effort to refrain from touching the ocean floor, striving to hover just above it throughout the dive.
The dive site features abundant weed and sandy areas, but as you venture deeper into the ocean, you’ll encounter a myriad of captivating coral reefs. These reefs showcase a stunning array of colours. It’s important to exercise caution with your fins while swimming around the corals to avoid accidental contact that could potentially harm and damage the delicate coral reefs.
- Type of Dive: Shore dive.
The dive site is situated at a distance of 500 meters from the car park, requiring a somewhat strenuous walk. Additionally, there is a descent involving 6 to 7 stairs to pass under the bridge. Carrying and wearing the gear is necessary for reaching the dive site.
The entry point is characterized by numerous rocks, making it somewhat challenging to navigate in and out of the water. It’s crucial to be cautious of fishing lines, given the presence of many individuals engaged in fishing activities.
When diving, having a torch is strongly recommended. This proves to be the most effective method for spotting micro marine life in the underwater environment.
- Dive site: Open (Sea).
- Depth: 13 to 15 metres.
- Visibility: I’ve heard that this site boasts the best visibility on favourable days. Unfortunately, during my experience, the visibility was relatively poor, ranging only from 3 to 5 meters. It’s essential to note that visibility is primarily influenced by the conditions of the ocean and the prevailing weather.
- Ideal for: Divers of all skill levels, including beginners, are welcome at this site. However, it’s important to note that the entry point may vary based on the divers’ experience levels. In my case, the entry point we used was designated for experienced divers.
- Wet suit: It is recommended to wear a 7 mm thickness wetsuit. The waters in Australia, particularly around Sydney, can be pretty chilly.
- Current: During my dive, I encountered a mild to moderate current. It’s worth noting that currents can lead to fatigue, so it’s essential to be mindful of these conditions.
For an optimal experience, the best time to dive is in the mornings when there is less crowd, and visibility tends to be significantly better.
Toilets are conveniently located opposite the bus stop. However, it’s important to note that there are no dedicated changing rooms. Divers typically change either in their vehicles or behind the closed toilets.
I received information that the marine life at this site is abundant and truly amazing. From vibrant nudibranchs to striking red Indian fishes, the diversity is impressive. My diving instructor mentioned the possibility of encountering Wobbegong sharks, octopuses, groupers, and stingrays. However, during my dive, I didn’t spot any of these. Instead, I had the pleasure of seeing goat fishes, a nudibranch, and an array of colourful coral reefs.
Dive Centre and Cost
- Dive Centre: Dive Centre Bondi.
- Address: 198, Bondi Road, Bondi, NSW 2026.
- Cost: Participating in a guided shore dive, inclusive of full gear and one Nitrox tank, comes for AUD 155. I opted for the dive with a Nitrox tank. It’s important to note that the dive centre offers transportation to and from the dive site.
- Equipment: The equipment includes one Nitrox tank, BCD, weights, a regulator, a 7 mm wetsuit, a mask with an inner vest, fins, and boots.
- Booking: To book, you can contact them by phone at 02 9369 3855 or visit their website.
A noteworthy aspect of diving with Dive Centre Bondi was the requirement to clean our gear upon return. This practice serves as a valuable lesson for divers, aiding them in learning how to maintain their equipment, especially for those considering purchasing their own gear in the future.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Dive Centre Bondi, there were a few notable drawbacks:
The instructor on that day was highly knowledgeable, although not particularly friendly. While not the most enjoyable experience diving with him, he was well-acquainted with the dive site, having dived there before.
The cost of a shore dive at Dive Centre Bondi is relatively high compared to other dive centers. For instance, Dive Centre Manly provides free guided shore dives for members, and becoming a member only costs AUD 100 for a year, granting unlimited access to shore dives. In contrast, Dive Centre Bondi charges AUD 75 for a guided shore dive. This pricing disparity makes it challenging to dive with Dive Centre Bondi regularly, especially on a weekly basis.
Is Bare Island Scuba Diving Safe for Solo Female Divers?
In scuba diving, it’s a general rule to always dive with a buddy, and for beginners like myself, having an instructor is optimal. It’s advisable to buddy up with someone more experienced than you. When diving with a reputable dive center, there’s no need to worry, as the center takes care of safety measures.
For solo female travelers, traveling to and from the dive site or center is considered extremely safe. Sydney, in general, is a very safe city. However, as in any other location, it’s crucial to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
I have a strong desire to revisit Bare Island, especially during better weather conditions, to witness more marine life than I did on the day. Throughout my diving experiences around Sydney, some of my favourite dive sites include Shelly Beach (Manly), Camp Cove, and Clifton Gardens. Each of these locations holds a special place in my diving adventures.
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