Julian Rocks Marine Reserve
Scuba diving or snorkelling is one of the must-do activities when visiting the coastal town of Byron Bay. The dive site Julian Rocks is a protected Nature Reserve within the Cape Byron Marine Park, which was established in 2002 and is located just 1.6 miles off the Byron Bay coast. The large exposed rock is surrounded by several moorings that can be used by boats. Julian Rocks is a world class dive site, suitable for all experience levels.
The marine life at Julian rocks is diversified and includes the famous Manta Rays and Leopard Sharks during the summer months and the Grey Nurse Sharks during the colder winter months. Critters to see all year round are turtles, bull rays, eagle rays, woebegone sharks, hard and soft coral, nudibranchs and lots of different species of tropical fish. Julian Rocks also had a number of confirm great white shark sightings whilst diving over the years.
Diving Conditions & Difficulty
The depth around the rock ranges from 5m to about 22m. The dive at Julian Rocks can be classified as a reasonably easy dive, provided you stay within the limits of your training. Visibility is usually good all year round and the water temperature ranges in between 18 degrees in winter and up to 25 degrees in summer. There can be current flowing around the rock at times.
Due to the presence of shallower sites, Julian Rocks is suitable for snorkelling and introductory diving as well.
Dive Sites and Moorings
Some nicknamed dive sites around Julian Rocks are:
o Anemone Rock
o Split Bommie
o Cod Hole
o Elwood’s Trench
o Hugo’s Trench
Click here to view a dive site map.
There is more!! In the immediate vicinity of Julian Rocks are 2 additional dive sites, Spot X and Mackerel Boulder. These sites are within the open ocean and famous for large shark encounters. To be able to dive these sites, divers need to be more advanced and the ocean calm with wave heaths less than 1m.
Our favourite Dive Plan
There are many options to dive and the dive plan often need to be adjusted to suit present environmental conditions such as currents or surface conditions. A great way to dive Julian Rocks is to start your dive at one of the western moorings such as the Nursery and finish the dive on a mooring on either the northern or southern side of Julian Rocks.
The Grey Nurse Sharks are often found in the vicinity of the Cod Hole (winter months only), around the 16-20m depth marks. Leopard Sharks can be found in large numbers around the Needles mooring during the summer months. There is nothing wrong with staying close to one mooring and to explore the immediate surroundings in more detail.
How to get there
Julian Rocks is only accessible by boat from either Brunswick Heads or Byron Bay beach. Sea conditions need to be reasonably calm to allow the bar crossing at Brunswick Heads and the beach launch dive boats from Byron Bay.
Who to Dive with? Byron Bay Diving Operators
There are 3 commercial diving operators that run charter boats to Julian Rocks. Which one is right for you depends on your individual needs and preferences, for example:
o Snorkelling or diving
o Single dive or double dive
o Already staying in Byron Bay
o Travelling to Byron Bay to dive
Blue Bay Divers
Blue Bay Divers operate out of Brunswick Heads. They are the only diving operator to offer double dive (2 tanks) trips on a larger, more comfortable vessel. Another bonus is that divers travelling from Brisbane, safe themselves about 20min drive as they don’t need to head all the way to Byron Bay town. http://www.bluebaydivers.com.au/
They are a PADI Dive Centre right in Byron Bay, located within the local YHA backpacker. They operate rigid inflatable vessels which are launched on the beach. Divers are transferred via bus to the beach and back. Dive trips run up to 3 times per day and are limited to single dives (1 tank) only. Sundive also have an awesome dive site map published on their website. https://www.sundive.com.au/
Byron Bay Dive Centre
They are a SSI Dive Centre and are set up in a similar way as Sundive. Byron Bay Dive Centre runs up to 3 trips per day as well with some boats being designated snorkel trips. http://www.byronbaydivecentre.com.au
Gold Coast Dive Adventures
GCDA and The Scuba Coach run frequent social dive trips to Byron Bay ex Gold Coast, using the boat of Blue Bay Divers. Check out our Dive Club page for upcoming dates. https://goldcoastdiveadventures.com.au/dive-club-gold-coast-australia