Coolangatta and Tweed Heads, at the southern most end of the Gold Coast, offer some truly memorable snorkeling and diving experiences.
Snorkelers should head straight to Cook Island Marine Reserve off the coast of Tweed Heads to snorkel amongst the sea turtles. You’ll also see coral gardens, a variety of fish, nudibranches, wobbegongs, octopus and majestic manta rays.
The Cook Island Marine Reserve has three great dive sites for scuba divers of all levels of experience. More experienced divers will also enjoy the Kingscliff Pinnacles and Nine Mile Reef. Read on for more information on each dive site.
Cooly Dive offer morning snorkel and dive tours to Cook Island.
Snorkel half day tour $85
Scuba half day tour $110
Scuba lesson and dive $180
(Prices include equipment, wetsuit and morning tea)
Photo Credits: All photos are copyright Cooly Dive.
Cook Island Marine Reserve
Cook Island and the surrounding ocean is teaming with life, so much so that in 1998 it was declared a Marine Park. The island is a breeding ground for shearwaters and terns, while the rocky terrain around it are a nursery for loggerhead and green sea turtles. The rocks provide a base for coral gardens, sea sponges, ascidians (sea polyps), anemones, nudibranches, wobbegongs (a camouflaged shark with a mustache and a funny name), manta rays, lots of fish (gropers, leatherjackets, parrot fish, puffer fish, surgeon fish, sweetlips and trevally), leopard sharks, and in winter if you’re lucky, a grey nurse shark.
Now, before you freak out about coming nose-to-nose with a grey nurse shark, you should know that;
a) grey nurse sharks do not harm humans unless provoked. Their reputation for being dangerous is a myth. And
b) they are critically endangered so your chances of encountering one are slim. Their numbers have plummeted due to fishing, shark finning and beach nets.
There are three dive sites at Cook Island Marine Reserve.
1. The East Side is a fun place to snorkel or dive. It’s full of caves, crevices and swim throughs, with coral gardens and the turtle nursery. It drops to 18 metres.
2. The North Wall for scuba divers drops to 12 metres and is home to resident baby wobbegongs, nudibranchs, lionfish, octopus and a range of schooling fish.
3. The South Wall for scuba divers drops to 10 metres. Its colorful corals make it a photographers paradise, and it’s rich with marine life such as eagle rays, manta rays, shovel nose rays, groper, cod, and schools of kingfish.
The pinnacle drops straight down for 33 metres to the sand. A maze of rocks provides a home for pelagic fish species, cod, surgeon fish and schools of snapper. Cruising along the sand in winter you might see a grey nurse shark.
Nine Mile Reef
This is one for the shark lovers. In winter you’ll see grey nurse sharks roving the sandy bottom, and in summer you’ll see the leopard sharks with their striking spotted skin. Year round you can swim with pelagic fish, bull rays, eagle rays, and turtles. Tweed Sea Sports take dive tours to Nine Mile Reef.