Diving around Tasmania
I have received a little feedback on diving around Tasmania and a number of readers have queried the ins and outs of hitting the big blue around our coastline. Temperate water diving is drastically different to stepping overboard in the tropics, water temperature is the parent factor, and it requires a greater level of concentration whilst underwater, a difference in diver skill, and good pre-dive planning.
While water temperatures don’t reach that of the Serbian freshwater lakes or Norwegian coastline, in mid winter you can be diving in 10 degrees celcius with chilled currents hitting you at every angle! Now that is still cold by anyone’s standards. The obvious addition that is required in your repertoire is a thick wetsuit. I dive in a 2 piece 7mm Probe which is more than adequate throughout the cold winter months where the visibility is at its highest. Many local divers prefer swimming in drysuits or a split 7mm/9mm suit where long periods of inactivity are expected in their diving. If you are planning on diving over the warmer months of November – March then you can get away with even thinner suits.
Donning more neoprene brings with it the need for more weight, which in turn affects your buoyancy control underwater as well as fatigue levels on land and while surface swimming. Currently weighing ~85kgs I usually take down between 23lbs and 27lbs depending on planned depths (and whether it is a foraging mission) and whether I am swimming with aluminum or steelies. If this trip will be your first in temperate waters then I recommend bringing more weight to try out on your intro dive just to be sure.
In addition, one of the commonly forgotten areas of temperate water diving is the effect it can have on your body regarding chill, reduction in movement underwater, an increase in the possibility of narcosis if planning deeper dives, and an increase in air usage due to the temperature. All of this needs to be taken into consideration before hitting the ocean.
So when is the best time to dive and where?
Comfortable diving is best undertaken in the warmer months between November to March. To the disbelief of many, Tasmania actually has rather warm summers! As well as warmth, summer and spring also bring algae and plankton blooms, which impede visibility. Some of the states best dive sites over the warmer months (where weather is predictably calmer) are Cathedral Caves, Blowhole, and Waterfall Bay from Eaglehawk Neck region; Maria Island, Ile Des Phoques (large seal colony and max of 20m), and Bicheno marine reserve (see below for description) along the east coast. A new addition to our sites is the Troy D shipwreck (24m), recently sunk off the east coast, and is already teeming with marine life. Add to this the elusive Betsy Island ship graveyard (12m – 18m), and the famous Nord shipwreck (40m dive) near Port Arthur in the south of the state.
Like myself, many divers prefer to brave the winter weather and dive around the March to September period when visibility is at its highest and many of the above dive sites become great attractions for marine life. Depending on your preferences, the seal colonies often become the site of Great White Sharks which is an incredible experience once safely back in the boat!
Tasmania’s best diving
Check out my individual posts regarding Tasmania’s top dive locations in the blog archives. Some of the greats:
Visiting the local dive shops
The following dive shops are available all year round for dive gear, charters, or anything related to scuba:
- The Hobart Dive Shop (Argyle St)
- Aqua Scuba (Elizabeth St)
- Southern Dive (Elizabeth St)
- Go Dive (Argyle St)
- Eaglehawk Dive Centre (Eaglehawk Neck)
- Bicheno Dive Centre (Bicheno)
Remember to be safe, conservative, and always dive with the help of local knowledge. If you are planning a trip down south then make sure you contact the Tasmanian University Dive Club and navigate to the contact page where we are more than happy to give advice or take a group of divers out to a local dive site.