South West Rocks: Cave Diving With Big Sharks, Rays & More

South West Rocks - Fish Rock Cave Dive - EntrySouth West Rocks is one of my favourite dive sites on Australia’s East Coast.

Not only is Fish Rock Cave one of the longest cave you can dive (125m) with a simple Open Water Certification, but it also offers fantastic other surprises.

I didn’t always have these positive feelings about South West Rocks. We were unlucky the first time we went there. On top of making me seasick, the waves were too strong to allow us to dive Fish Rock Cave cave safely. The visibility was below average and, although we saw a few sharks, the site didn’t leave a good impression.

But we trusted the locals and friends who said we should try it another time. Luckily, we were going south again a couple of months later. A perfect opportunity to give it another go. I’m glad we tried again. Our second trip there was fantastic.

I could not believe it was the same site we visited a few months before. This time, the ocean was flat, and the visibility was maybe ten times better.

South West Rocks - Fish Rock Cave Dive - Bull RayDiving the cave was amazing. I failed to pick one highlight, so here are four highlights of our dives in South West Rocks / Fish Rock Cave:

The air bubble: at 6m underwater, we could pop our heads into an air bubble formed on the roof of the cave and remove our scuba equipment to have a chat. How surprising is that?!

The bull rays: One was chilling down on the sand, as rays usually do. But the second one was swimming around, and I had to stack up on top of my buddy entirely against the wall to leave it room to swim as it wanted to go against the flow of divers. I love seeing rays swimming: they are majestic. I never had one so close to me, and it was as impressive as noble.

The sharks: They are the stars here at South West Rocks. Sometimes, a group of them are waiting at the exit of the cave. We weren’t that lucky, but still had a few there and it looked terrific. No danger here: although they look impressive, they are inoffensive Grey Nurse Sharks. Hammerhead sharks can pay a visit, and they did a couple of days after our dives.

The small marine creatures: I always associated Fish Rock Cave with the sharks. I didn’t imagine we’d have a blast looking for much more modest creatures down there: nudibranchs of course, but also spiders and beautiful shrimps. The walls looked amazing. It was my first time seeing nudibranch eggs.

We also found an anemonefish protecting its eggs. I bit me through my gloves as I attempted to take a photo. Although I’m 100 times bigger than him, it didn’t hesitate to attack me! It didn’t hurt, but it did get noticed. Brave little one, and an excellent call to remind divers to be super careful!

Responsible tip: For your own safety, it is always better not to touch anything when underwater. But that’s also a good tip to protect the eco-system down there. Always be extra careful when you touch rocks by checking there is no eggs or anything fragile. And when you grab the rocks, only use three fingers gently to avoid damaging the coral.

 

South West Rocks - Grey Nurse Shark pano 01

 

Have you dived South West Rocks? Or have you ever dived in a cave? What was your highlight? Leave a comment below!

 

Where is South West Rocks?

 

South West Rocks is located on Australia’s East Coast, almost halfway between Brisbane and Sydney.

It takes six hours to drive there from Brisbane and five hours from Sydney. I recommend planning this trip over a three-day weekend. If you’re driving down from Brisbane, have a look at this itinerary.

 

Where to stay in South West Rocks? We always camp at Smoky Cape campground, not far from the lighthouse.

If you don’t want to camp, there are many accommodation options available in town (click here to view*).

 

 

 Your underwater pics don’t look that good? Check out my tips for beginners to take underwater photos that aren’t blue!

 

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SOUTH WEST ROCKS - fish rock cave - diving - australia

 

*These are affiliate links: I will receive a commission if you make a booking or purchase a product using this link but this does not affect the price you pay. This will help me maintain this website. 

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I am a part-time traveler: I combine a full-time job with a passion for traveling. I love to share my trips and tips to inspire others to explore what’s around them. Before moving to Australia, I lived in France, England and Turkey. I’ve finally found my balance in Brisbane.

10 thoughts on “South West Rocks: Cave Diving With Big Sharks, Rays & More

  1. The underwater world is always fascinating and so colourful. This was indeed an amazing experience and the photos tell the story. But what intrigued me the most was the presence of an air bubble deep below the water. This is indeed something unique.

  2. This sounds incredible and the photos are beautiful. I’ve never actually heard of bull rays but I’d love to see them. I’ve swum with other rays and it’s magic!

    1. The bull rays are quite common in Australian waters. I’m not sure why they’re named like that, maybe because of their size (it’s a big stingray). I love seeing rays too – but not when they hide in the sand!

  3. Wow – this looks like such a great site. Australians are always so keen to head off to SE Asia to do diving – and we forget that there are so many places like this in our own backyard. Why not head here instead and enjoy a long weekend out of the city!

    1. Exactly! We’re lucky to have fabulous local dive sites that can even change according to the season! And although diving is quite expensive in Australia, it’s still cheaper than booking a flight to Thailand ;)

  4. I wish I could dive: your pictures are amazing! Unfortunately I suffer with asthma and I can’t :( Yet I’m going to pass this to my brother in law. He’s a certified diver and I’m not sure he knows about Fish Rock Cave. You’re going to provide one heck of inspiration, thank you!

  5. What an amazing experience you’ve had here and it just goes to show that you sometimes have to give things a second chance. I’m not a diver myself but is it common to have air bubbles in caves under water like that? I had no idea this was possible.

    1. Thank you, Mary. It was the first time for me in a bubble cave and it was a surprise. I don’t think it’s common, but I’m not an expert at all in cave diving…

What do you think?