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Best Places to See Australia’s Marine Life

Australia is surrounded by three different oceans, facing the Indian Ocean to the west, the South Pacific to the east and the cold Southern Ocean to the south. This makes Australia home to some incredible marine environments and a diverse range of amazing marine life. You could snorkel amongst tropical fish and coral in the north, swim with whale sharks in the west or watch seals and penguins laze and waddle on the beaches in the south. Whatever part of Australia’s coast you are visiting, you are sure to find an amazing marine experience. Here are some of the best places to see Australia’s Marine Life.


The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world, stretching far down the coast of Queensland in Australia. The reef is home to thousands of species of marine life, from coral and tropical fish to sharks and sea turtles. One of the best places to see this unique marine environment is Cairns, with its excellent resorts and reef tours. The tours on offer will take you out to the reef on a fast catamaran, usually providing lunch and all equipment for snorkeling and diving on the reef. There are great resorts and hotel apartments situated on Cairns stunning waterfront which makes it ideal for a family holiday or a weekend break.


Whale Shark

Exmouth is the jumping off point for the Ningaloo Reef, located on the central coast of Western Australia. This beautiful and important reef system is home to lots of marine life, but the highlight of any trip here is the opportunity to swim with the whale sharks and massive manta rays that visit the reef between March and September. Swimming with these gentle giants is a once in a lifetime experience.

Heron Island

Heron Island is one of 900 islands on the Great Barrier Reef, but what makes this particular island so special is the sea turtles that have chosen it as the place to lay their eggs. Situated off the coast of Gladstone in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island provides you with the unique opportunity to see these turtles come up on the beach to lay their eggs from November. Then from December until May you can watch the tiny turtle hatchlings emerge from the sand to make their way out to sea.

Sea Turtle – Heron Island

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island isn’t just home to Kangaroos. This South Australian island is an absolute wildlife haven, not just home to some of Australia’s most iconic marsupials, such as Koalas and Echidnas, but also to some amazing marine life. Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to see Sea Lions and Fur Seals in Australia. Visit Seal Bay where you can take a tour to visit a Sea Lion colony and walk among these amazing creatures – this is the only place in the world where you can do this, making it a truly unique experience.

Sea Lions – Sea Bay

Port Stevens

Every year between May and November, Humpback whales migrate up the Eastern Coast of Australia from the freezing waters of Antarctica to the warm tropical waters of the Coral Sea to mate and give birth to their young. There are lots of wonderful places to view these whales all of the way up the coast, but one excellent choice is Port Stevens in New South Wales. You can view the whales here on their way up the coast from around June to August, and then on their way back between September and November. A whale watching cruise is the best way to get up close to these gentle giants. The calm waters of the bay at Port Stevens is also home to lots of Bottle Nosed Dolphins which you are sure to see while out on the water.

Phillip Island

Located a short drive southeast of Melbourne, Phillip Island is home to the world’s smallest species of Penguin – the Ferry Penguin. From the viewing platforms, you can watch these little penguins waddle along the beach and in and out of the surf. They shelter in little nooks and burrows at the head of the beach and there is also an underground viewing platform where you can view the penguins resting underground.

Head of the Bight

The Great Australian Bight Marine Park is home to whales, sea lions and Great White Sharks, to name a few of the important species is this remote marine park. If you’re heading across the Nullarbor in South Australia, stop in at the Head of the Bight Lookout for an incredible cliff top view out over the bight. From May until October, Southern Right Whales come to the Great Australian Bight to mate and give birth to their young, and during this time they can often be seen close to the shore.

Port Lincoln

South Australia certainly is a gem when it comes to marine life experiences. Last on this list is probably the most adventurous. The cold waters of the Southern Ocean are home to the Great White Shark, and Port Lincoln, located on the Eyre Peninsula, is the place to go to get up close with them. This is where you can go cage diving, getting up close and personal with these incredible and intimidating creatures. It might not be for everyone, but cage diving with the Great White Sharks is an experience you will never forget.

Australia truly is rich with marine life and it is all there for you to enjoy and explore. There are so many experiences that you will never forget. Whether you are whale watching on a cruise, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or diving with Great White Sharks, you will be left with memories that will last a lifetime.


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Image credits (under CCL): featureSea Lions – Sea BayTurtle – Heron IslandWhale shark – Photo credit

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Annie June Smithly