Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)

We were supposed to dive at a place called Voodoo in Sydney but that did not happen as there was a swell in the ocean and it was quite dangerous. So the divemaster decided to change the location to ‘The steps in Kurnell’. Coincidentally, this site was mentioned as one of the best sites in NSW by PADI in the seminar that I had attended a few days ago. The Steps in Kurnell is very famous for its Weedy sea dragons, the cute looking bright orange little creatures.

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Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
PIN for later reference – Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)

Where are the Steps?

The Steps is in the Botany Bay National Park in Kurnell. Kurnell is a suburb in Sydney, which boasts off with its amazing coastline with picturesque views. It is also famous for viewing the whales during the whale watching season (from May to October every year).

If you are not into diving or are looking for something else to do in Kurnell, then know that Kurnell is also famous for its coastal walk Kurnell to Cronulla.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
A fish found while diving at the Steps

How to get to the Steps?

Driving

The car park called Inscription Point Car Park is along the Cape Solander Drive and the path/staircase to go to the entry point for the dive is right next to the car park. The best and easiest way to reach the car park is by driving. Distance between Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and Inscription Point Car Park is about 38 kilometres (one hour drive).

View on Google Map – Inscription Pont Car Park

There is a car park at the Steps. One needs to purchase a parking ticket even on a Sunday. If there is no parking ticket in the car when the inspector comes for a check, then the driver is issued a fine which is for the same amount as that of the parking ticket (approximately AUD 8 per car per day).

Public transport

The nearest bus stop (Captain Cook Dr after Polo Street) to Inscription Point Car Park is around 1.2 kilometres away. From Sydney CBD, one needs to take a train to the Cronulla station and a bus to the Captain Cook Dr after Polo Street stop. The total time to travel between Sydney CBD and the car park is around 1 hour 45 minutes. More up-to-date information can be found on the Transport for New South Wales (NSW) website.

Dive Site

The dive site has lots of weeds and the colour underwater is a bit greenish because of the weed. Once you get past those weeds, there is a sand patch where one can swim comfortably. The setup has to be done at the car park before getting down the staircase to reach the entry point.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
Underwater plants

Apologies for the bad quality pictures. Unfortunately, I could not get some nice pictures when I dived as my memory card was very slow and my camera found it difficult to write into it.

The dive site is one side covered in rocks and the other side is made up of sand. The visibility of the water also depends on whether the sand is settled or not. Getting out of this shore dive at the steps is very tricky with so many rocks. The waves tend to push and throw you around, especially during bad weather.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
The Steps Kurnell – Dive Map; Source: Michael Mcfadyen Scuba

Logistics

  • Type of Dive: Shore dive (one can also do a leap when the conditions of the sea are calm).
  • Dive site: Open (Sea).
  • Depth: 10 to 18 metres.
  • Visibility: approximately around 5 metres.
  • Ideal for: Open Water certified divers and above.
  • Wet suit: Yes, advised. The Australian waters are a bit chilly.
  • Current: Yes, strong and it is advised to swim into the tide.

Marine Life

As I mentioned above, the Steps is famous for its Weedy seadragons. They are the orange tiny creatures that look like dragons. Other than the seadragons, the site is also known for Port Jackson sharks, octopuses, eels, and dolphins. Unfortunately, the only marine life that I saw was the seadragon but the other divers with me saw the dolphins and the octopuses.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
Weedy Seadragon

Dive Centre and Cost

This was my first time with this dive centre and the experience was good even though I wouldn’t say it was the best. The divemaster and the group were very friendly and chilled out. The equipment except for the mask that I had hired was okay. The mask was very dirty and had to be cleaned quite a bit.

  • Dive Centre: Abyss.
  • Cost: The shore dive is free for certified divers.
  • Equipment: The equipment can be hired and the hiring of equipment (full gear) cost me AUD 110.
  • Booking: On their website. The booking is easy and the equipment hire can be selected upfront. Note: Ensure to call the dive centre and confirm your equipment as there was a mix up with mine.

The only reason why I would not like to go with this dive centre again is because:

  1. The dive centre is not convenient to reach from the city. The nearest train station is Kogara, which is around 1 kilometre from the dive centre.
  2. One needs to pick up the equipment and drive to the dive site on their own unlike some of the other dive centres that dive you to the dive site.
  3. It is a hassle to pick the equipment and the tanks and manage on your own.
  4. The equipment hire is expensive when compared to other dive centres.

Is it safe for solo female divers?

As a general rule, one always needs to have a dive buddy while diving. So, always buddy up with another diver before diving at one of the sites. However, if you are going with a reputed dive school or a dive centre, then rest be assured that you will be safe. Ensure to read through the reviews of the dive school before selecting one.

Traveling to and from the dive site is extremely safe for solo female travelers. But like any other place around the World, be cautious and know your surroundings.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
At the entry point of the Steps

Closing notes

The dive itself was quite pleasant even though I was affected by the rough sea and felt dry and sick the whole day. And I was stuck between two rocks, thanks to the waves. Eventually, I got out ofcourse. Even though not one of my best dives, I will cherish this dive as the highlight was surely seeing one of those Weedy sea dragons, the little guy chilled out with us for some time till we moved away.

Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
Weedy Seadragon

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Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)
PIN for later reference – Diving at the Steps (Kurnell)

14 Comments

  1. ann

    Diving seems to be such an exciting activity. I have wanted to try several times but there has always been something that has stood in the way, either the dive site has been very remote or my friends have not wanted to follow. It looks like you had a really good experience and it was incredibly inspiring to read through your post.

  2. delhifundos2014

    What a neat city to explore. Diving is in our Wishlist from very long. It looks like you had a great time checking out so many different things. Looks like fun!

  3. hillcitybride

    This looks like a great place to dive, and I’m so glad you touched on the fact that it’s safe for solo female travelers. I’ve never been diving there, but it seems like a great place to do so. Your photos are fabulous!

  4. At first I thought you are talking about the Two Steps diving spot in Hawaii, but then I realized the place you are talking about is in Australia. The Botany Bay National Park looks like a wonderful place to visit. I’d love to see the Sea Dragons in real life. I’ve only seen them in documentaries.

  5. When we visited Australia, we only went snorkelling and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. So it was fun to read about diving the steps in Kurnell. Since I have never seen Weedy sea dragons, that would definitely be a draw. Good to know that the entry may be tricky as a shore dive. And to check the weather to make sure the sand is not stirred up. Since we would not bring all our gear, good to get info on how to get gear before heading to the site.

  6. Oh! It’s sad that you did not see a lot of marine life but I guess that’s a great start. I agree with you that they’re quite expensive. Hope you can find a better dive center next time. Thank you for the reminder to make sure you have a dive buddy with you.

  7. Thanks for this post, Raksha! Looks like you had a lot of fun and Steps is in my list, too! Anyway, what is the experience level for this? I’ve been missing a lot of dives lately because some sites require certain experience levels so I am thinking to take advanced courses! I have an open water. Thanks again for your tips!

  8. Good to know about the suburb of Sydney – Kurnell and how people come here for whale watching. I loved the deep blue color waters here and good to know this place offers amazing views too. As I am not much diving person, so will go for whale watching during October to May. It really looks a tricky place for divers due to rocks and climbing stairs against the waves or flow of water.

  9. Paula

    I wish I was better at underwater but unfortunately, it takes me so much time to get into breathing rythm. But I absolutely love snorkling and always look forward to trips where I see underwater life. Too bad you didn’t see so much on this trip. Dragons look beautiful though. Also diving with dolphins sounds like a dream.

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