Lord Howe Island’s abundant marine life and crystal clear waters attract divers from around the world to explore some of the best dive sites on the planet.
The coral reefs at Lord Howe Island are the most southerly (31° 33’S) – and among the most spectacular – in the world. The island is located at the crossroads of five major ocean currents, including the warm East Australian Current which runs down the Great Barrier Reef and down into the Tasman Sea. The island’s unique marine ecosystem hosts a diverse mix of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate species which is found nowhere else on earth; there are over 90 species of coral and 500 species of fish inhabiting the reef. Lord Howe’s underwater topography of trenches, caves and volcanic drop-offs adds to the awe-inspiring diving experience at the island.
Lord Howe is one of just four island groups to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list for the global significance of its natural beauty and heritage. Surrounded by Marine Park and with fishing restrictions, the island’s reef and marine ecosystems are pristine and plentiful. Located so far off-shore and with no rivers draining to the ocean, the waters are some of the clearest on earth; visibility is usually around 30 metres (summer – outside of the lagoon 20-40m, summer – inside lagoon 10m, winter – outside of the lagoon 15-20m).
There are over 60 world-class dive sites, most located just a short boat ride (10-20 minutes) from shore.
The island’s most spectacular dive is Ball’s Pyramid – the world’s tallest sea stack, located 26km south of the island. Divers (Advanced certification required) can expect to see massive schools of Violet Sweep, Amberjack, Kingfish, Silver Drummer, Rainbow Runners, Trevally and occasionally Marlin, Dolphins and Wahoo. It’s also possible to see Ballina Angelfish – a deep water angel that is generally only found in water in excess of 100 metres, and Ball’s Pyramid is believed to be the only destination where you can see them on recreational scuba in 25 metres. Dives at Ball’s Pyramid average 25 metres in depth and range from drift dives to cave dives to simply following a coral wall.
At many of the dive sites around the Lord Howe Island, divers can see rare and endemic species including Spanish Dancers, Double Header Wrasse; McCullochs Anemone fish and Galapagos whalers – harmless sharks that grow to around two metres and are frequent visitors. It’s also easy to see a variety of species of turtle – even just snorkelling from shore in the Lagoon.
There are two dive operators on the island, both highly experienced family run businesses, who know the island’s best sites. Contact either of them directly for details of packages and costings – Lord Howe diving represents outstanding value for money!
- Less than 2 hours flight from Sydney or Brisbane
- Water temperatures vary from absolute low of 17C in winter (Jul-Aug) to 26C in summer (Jan to Jun)
- Over 60 dive sites to suit all levels of proficiency and interest
- Small groups, personalised service, exceptional value for money
- Dive packages available
- Weight restrictions apply to flights to Lord Howe. You can carry up to 23 kg of luggage (1 x 14kg & 1 x 9 kg bags).
- Top quality rental equipment available: Scubapro, Mares & Tusa BCDs & Regs. All regs have computers.
- Season operates September to June.
- Courses available: PADI open water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster, Specialty Courses available: Night, Deep, Navigation, Naturalist, Search & Recovery, Underwater photography. Discover Scuba Dives (for the uncertified).
Lord Howe Island Dive Sites
Lord Howe boasts over 60 dive sites, ranging from off the beach dives over beautiful coral reef to Ball’s Pyramid – the world’s tallest sea stack.
Diving inside the lagoon is a great last dive or if the seas are not favourable for some of the outer reef dive sites. With so much choice and the shelter of the Lagoon, there’s almost always somewhere to dive, no matter what the conditions dives are rarely cancelled. Erscotts Hole or Comets Hole can exhaust divers with the variety of marine life.
Erscotts Hole is just a five-minute boat ride inside the lagoon, offering amazing fish life and can be dived in nearly all weather conditions. Better known for its consistently excellent visibility and a maximum depth of about 8 metres it is an excellent site for photography. Common species to be seen in large numbers are Bluefish, Double Header Wrasse, Spangled Emperors and Neon Damsels. Interesting and rare species to be found in Escortts Hole are Colemans Pigmy Seahorse, Fosters Hawkfish, Marlin Spike Auger Shells, Spotted Snake Eel and Beaked Leatherjacket.
Comets Hole is a freshwater formed hole that is swarming with marine life. A depth of 7-8 metres, it is a must-do dive for underwater photographers. Here is where you will find the endemic McCulloch’s Anemone fish. Large schools of Lined Catfish, Decorator Crabs, Coral Gobies, White-mouthed Moray, Slipper Crayfish, and Marble Shrimp. Corals in Comets Hole: Porites, Acroporas in large numbers and Needle corals. Also Trevally, Painted Morwong, Silver Drummer, Three-striped Butterflyfish, three types of Lionfish, and the Lord Howe Island Moray Eel. Bigger fish like Bull Rays, Long-tailed Whip Ray and Galapagos Whaler sharks. This dive is a must!
The Admiralty Islands are a short boat ride away and offer a variety of diving. A surface interval at Ned’s Beach – famous for its fish feeding – where you can snorkel or just relax.
Tenth of June
This dive is a pinnacle of reef rising from 18m to 7m and circumnavigated quite easily, allowing time to proceed over to the boulders near the island. A must-do dive as it is a Spanish Dancer haven. Blue Angelfish, Green Jobfish, and Japanese Boarfish are some of the rare species that are regularly seen here. Look for Tricolour Basselets and Round-backed Coral Crabs on top of the pinnacle.
Tenth of June Deep
This reef is a large plateau reef in 20m with crevices running through it. This reef drops 12m to the seafloor in a wall of soft corals, Gorgonians and Black Coral trees. Follow this wall along in 30m and pass through huge canyons, tunnels and swim-throughs. This is a reliable dive for seeing huge Black Cod, Harlequin Tuskfish (with its blue teeth) and Long-nosed Butterfly fish.
Named after one of Lord Howe’s original local divers who pioneered diving on the island. Ruperts reef is in the channel between No-Name Rock and Roach Island. There is a resident Green Turtle, lots of small Sea Fans, Purple and Orange Bryozoans. Small Squat Lobsters and Grey Coral Gobies in the hard corals if you have keen eyesight. Saddled Rock Cod, and occasionally Large Painted Crayfish.
There are numerous dive sites that surround Lord Howe Island. All are excellent but far too many to experience in one trip.
This is a reef in 22 metres of water and discovered in 2008 by Jeff Deacon on his way back from a fishing trip. Here are Galapagos Reef sharks, schools of Blue Streak Fusiliers, Trevally, Kingfish, a variety of Butterfly Fish and the rare Harlequin Tuskfish and Clown Triggerfish. Add this to swim-throughs and carpets of mauve soft corals to make it a brilliant dive.
Lord Howe Island’s premier dive site is Ball’s Pyramid. This is a must for all experienced divers. The boat ride alone to Ball’s Pyramid, located 20km off Lord Howe Island, is worth it just for the spectacular views. Often schools of dolphins accompany you on the trip there. Ball’s Pyramid is world class diving with species endemic to the region. Diving Ball’s pyramid and its neighbouring sites you can expect clear visibility and massive schools of fish including Sweep, Amberjack, Kingfish, Rainbow Runners, Trevally and Silver Drummer, the occasional Marlin, dolphins, and Wahoo can be seen, Whale Sharks have been sighted on the trip to the Pyramid. Ball’s Pyramid is where you can spot the rare Ballina Angelfish, usually known to be only in very deep waters. The dive sites are slightly deeper at Ball’s Pyramid but offer a great variety including caves, amazing corals and drift dives. Expect to be surrounded by Galapagos Whalers during your safety stop. An advanced diving certificate is required to dive Balls Pyramid. For bookings, see Howea Divers or PRO DIVE Lord Howe Island