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Far Northern Reef Dive Sites

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© Lonely Planet Publications
Far Northern 0Reefs

Far Northern Reef Dive Sites

Great

8 km
4 miles

Three
Reefs

0

not for navigation

see inset map

Yule Detached Reef

12 o S
Great Detached Reef
Wishbone
Reef
Martha N i m r o d P a s s a g e
Ridgeway
Wreck Bay
Reefs
Safe Entrance

45

Bl

ac

o
kR

ck

En

tra

Lagoon Reef
Quoi

Mantis
Reef

e
nc

CORAL
SEA
n Isla
nd

Entrance

12 o 30'S

12 o 30'S
Long
Sandy Reef

Prov

identi

nel
al Chan
Log Reef

Hibernia Entrance

Bligh Reef

Reef
Depth

44

Bligh B
oat Entrance

0-10m
10-20m
20m+
Cat
Reef

13 o S

M
Ham
3
Reef o n d
c
e
S

New
Reef

ile

Op

en

i n g 13 o S

Colclough
Reef

Tijou
Reef
Diamond
Reign Reefs

43

The tentacles of an anemone

144 o E

120

As this area extends 300km to 1000km
(200 to 600 nautical miles) north of
Cairns and Port Douglas, there are no
set itinerary diving services to these
remote reefs. The area includes all the
reefs and islands from Lizard Island to
the tip of Cape York, with Torres Strait
sites further north. Several boats make
annual expeditions and others run charter trips. These reefs are accessible via
Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown, or
you can fly into Lizard Island, Iron Range
or Thursday Island to join one of the flyin, sail-out trips to save the travel time
from Cairns or Port Douglas – whatever
way you can do it, it is worth it!
About 600 reefs, ranging in size from
a few metres across to 35km (22 miles)
long and 15km (9 miles) wide, provide
thousands of kilometres of diveable
reef edges, and that’s not including the
floors and shoals in between the reefs,
or lagoons on their surfaces!
More than one hundred cays and
many mainland islands also provide
stunning terrestrial experiences. Many

Far Northern Reef Dive Sites

43 TIJOU REEF – MR WALKER’S CAVES

•
•
•
•

44 BLIGH BOAT ENTRANCE
45 MANTIS REEF
46 GREAT DETACHED REEF
47 WRECK OF THE PANDORA

121

ADVANCED

46

e

INTERMEDIATE

Passag

Stead

Raine Island Entrance

are closed or permit-only, due to their
status as Aboriginal sites or bird and turtle rookeries. Raine Island once had over
16,000 green turtles nesting there at
night and is now an important rookery
for turtles, frigate birds, Nankeen night
herons, gannets and terns. It is closed
at all times.
The reefs best for diving are on the
outer edges of the continental shelf,
from Lizard Island to adjacent to the tip
of Cape York. This gives you a continuous line of ribbon, deltaic and dissected
linear (east-west across the shelf ) reefs.
Visibili...
120 121
As this area extends 300km to 1000km
(200 to 600 nautical miles) north of
Cairns and Port Douglas, there are no
set itinerary diving services to these
remote reefs. The area includes all the
reefs and islands from Lizard Island to
the tip of Cape York, with Torres Strait
sites further north. Several boats make
annual expeditions and others run char-
ter trips. These reefs are accessible via
Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown, or
you can fly into Lizard Island, Iron Range
or Thursday Island to join one of the fly-
in, sail-out trips to save the travel time
from Cairns or Port Douglas – whatever
way you can do it, it is worth it!
About 600 reefs, ranging in size from
a few metres across to 35km (22 miles)
long and 15km (9 miles) wide, provide
thousands of kilometres of diveable
reef edges, and that’s not including the
floors and shoals in between the reefs,
or lagoons on their surfaces!
More than one hundred cays and
many mainland islands also provide
stunning terrestrial experiences. Many
are closed or permit-only, due to their
status as Aboriginal sites or bird and tur-
tle rookeries. Raine Island once had over
16,000 green turtles nesting there at
night and is now an important rookery
for turtles, frigate birds, Nankeen night
herons, gannets and terns. It is closed
at all times.
The reefs best for diving are on the
outer edges of the continental shelf,
from Lizard Island to adjacent to the tip
of Cape York. This gives you a continu-
ous line of ribbon, deltaic and dissected
linear (east-west across the shelf) reefs.
Visibility is usually 20m (66ft) and up to
50m (165ft). As this shelf edge is from
60km to 160km (35 miles to 100 miles)
from the coast, the inshore waters can
still be a little dirty from coastal run-off,
although there are none of the chemi-
cals and silt from coastal human ac-
tivities offshore. In the Cape York area,
outflows from the Fly River in Papua
New Guinea wash down in big floods.
As you get closer to the coast there
are more islands, less visibility, more
dugong, saltwater crocodiles, tiger
sharks and generally less desirable div-
ing conditions. Yet these are fantastic
underwater places, if you are at all bio-
logically or muck-diving inclined.
Moving farther north, toward the
centre of greatest Indo-Pacific species
diversity, it is possible to see as yet un-
described species of corals, fish and
Far Northern Reef Dive Sites
Far Northern Reef Dive Sites
GOOD SNORKELING
NOVICE
INTERMEDIATE
ADVANCED
43 TIJOU REEF  MR WALKER’S CAVES
••
44 BLIGH BOAT ENTRANCE
••
45 MANTIS REEF
••
46 GREAT DETACHED REEF
••
47 WRECK OF THE PANDORA
43
45
44
13
o
S
144
o
E
144
o
E
12
o
30'S
13
o
S
12
o
S
12
o
30'S
Tijou
Reef
Diamond
Reign Reefs
New
Reef
Colclough
Reef
Ham
Reef
Cat
Reef
Bligh Reef
Log Reef
CORAL
SEA
Long
Sandy Reef
Wreck Bay
Mantis
Reef
Martha
Ridgeway
Reefs
Wishbone
Reef
Grea
t
Yule Detached Reef
Three
Reefs
Lagoon Reef
S
e
c
o
n
d
3
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0-10m
10-20m
20m+
Depth
Reef
144
o
E
46
Raine Island
To Pandora
(Dive 47)
Great Detached Reef
R
a
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I
s
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E
n
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Far Northern Reefs
see inset map
not for navigation
4 miles0
8 km0
A series of sand cays, some vegetated,
runs along the outer Far Northern Reefs
The tentacles of an anemone
© Lonely Planet Publications
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