NSW is one of the few places in the world where you can dive up close, without cage, with large wild sharks. The Grey Nurse sharks are a relatively docile species of coastal shark that have a head full of scary teeth but have never been known to attack humans. Jon, the shop owner, knows the region well as well as the movements of the sharks at Fish Rock, about 40 minutes by boat from the marina at South West Rocks. Although I've seen beginners do this dive, it's not an easy one. The water is cooler and cloudier than your idyllic Tahitian lagoon with temps around 22-23 degC and visibility up to 20m on a good day. You'll need a full wetsuit which the shop can provide as well as all your other gear.
As with any wildlife 'safari', the animals have their own agenda and sightings can range from one or two animals to schools of a dozen or more in close proximity. While you are hanging out with the sharks, there are also giant Bull Rays (yes, the type that dispatched Steve Irwin) wobbygongs (another type of docile shark) spotted rays, moray eels, turtles, crustaceans and tons of fish. If you visit the website or Facebook page, Jon regularly posts his latest encounters with images and descriptions.
The signature dive is probably the cave, which is a full swim-through tunnel of about 30m. Again, the shop will provide excellent, high power torches and your guide will point out the myriad little creatures hiding in the dark cavern. Don't be scared, my teenage daughter did it after only a handful of dives and loved it.
A dive at Fish Rock is a proper, expertly conducted experience that will satisfy finicky divers getting a bit tired of lazy tropical lagoons. Students of marine biology will get a full exposure to some of the endangered species that are now hard to find elsewhere along the coast. I've witnessed the other operators firsthand and believe Fish Rock Dive Centre is the best choice for experience and expertise. Even if you don't intend to dive, pop in and see the picture gallery.
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