Diving the Rowley Shoals | The Indian Ocean
| Australia
Napoleon wrasse

Imagine what it would be like to dive somewhere no-one else has been or be the very first person to discover a new diving destination? Imagine then, an adventure out to sea, to a location that few have ever visited. The Rowley Shoals is that place. Consisting of three rounded atolls, each with a perimetre reef broken by sharp channels that lead to a central lagoon, the Rowley Shoals are affected by a dramatic five metre tidal range. At certain times massive volumes of water pour in and out of the central lagoon creating a fascinating landscape.

Underwater, the marine flora and fauna is prolific – recent research logged over 240 species of reef building corals and nearly 700 species of fish. Due to their remote location, cyclones and wind patterns, the window for scuba diving is restricted to just three months of the year. This is actually a great benefit to the ecosystem as there is little damage to the reefs from either fishermen or divers.

The most exciting feature is diving through the channels. Gradually descending from about six metres to 25, and all the time approaching the open sea, you meet whitetip sharks, giant cod who keep divers company then, as the tide turns and the current picks up, you get pulled swiftly towards the outer reef and whatever lies beyond – often more sharks surrounded by schooling jacks.

Rowley Shoals dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life

Pristine hard corals
Giant potato cod

Top dive site
The Blue Hole
September - November only
30 metres +
Water temperature
28 – 29º C
Deco chambers
Fremantle, Singapore.
to Perth and
then Broome
Kimberley Escape and Seashells Resort, Cable Beach, Broome

Due to the weather patterns, you can only dive Rowley for three months in every year and getting there isn't easy – access is from the northern town of Broome, then it's a 12 hour sail across rough seas. Although the crossing is never calm, the water around the shoals is usually mirror smooth.


The open atolls attract some big predators. We found ourselves snorkelling a few metres above a tiger shark one day and were often surrounded by groups of a dozen or more reef sharks. The currents can really rip when the tides change. Drift diving is the only option and you can even go for a speed snorkel through some of the channels.

Apart from the reasons above, we spent the whole week diving in perfect peace. Not a single boat apart from our own graced the horizon and the only divers we saw were our buddies. The sense of discovering something completely new was as real as it could ever be on our ever-shrinking planet. We dived from Kimberley Escape which was good but a little cramped. However, the boat has since been upgraded.

Complete reports on this area are in
Diving the World.

Order print copies direct from SeaFocus here.

The digital edition is on iTunes.