Port Stephens Dive Sites
Port Stephens (32°43'S 152°09'E) is several hours north of Sydney & 48 kilometres from Newcastle. The Bay as the locals call it, is twenty-three square kilometres of mostly calm protected waterways. It offers a wonderful area to observe & photograph nudibranchs. Fly Point, Halifax Park, Little Beach & the Co-op are all easy shore dives inside the Bay ranging in depth down to 27m. The best time to dive inside the harbour is on the high or low tides. Low tide dives tend to have poorer visibility. Nudibranchs can always be seen at these sites, with summer being the best time for species numbers. Many different species arrive with the warm waters from the tropical north.
Port Stephens also offers several interesting island dive sites including Little, Broughton, Boondelah & Cabbage Tree Islands.
The Co-op is a silt bottom with acres of soft coral. Most divers follow the old sewer pipe out & then angle back towards shore through the forests of soft coral. This area is also good for allied cowries. Sponge gardens are dotted along the pipe. Due to its position inside the Bay there is rarely good visibility. Do not let that put you off, the Co-op can produce some interesting discoveries.
Fly Point slopes gently to about 8m where a ledge marks the beginning of an area covering about half a hectare of sponges, soft corals etc. A depth of 24m can be reached at the edge of the dive area.
Little Beach lies between Fly Point & Halifax Park & can be a good shallow dive on its own or you can enter at Fly Point & exit at Little Beach. Some interesting finds have been made doing this dive.
Halifax Park is the deepest of the Bay dives reaching 27m+ on some high tides. Halifax lacks much interesting growth until you reach 15m. Entry & exit can be tricky on windy days. Fly Point & Halifax Park are part of a Marine Reserve.
All the above dives can be done from shore on the tides. The islands outside the Bay are all boat dives & can be arranged through any of the local dive shops. Several of the participants to this site have dived these sites for many years.
Ellis, W., 1999 (December 10) Port Stephens Dive Sites. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/portstephens