In Rowley Shoals, Western Australia Islands

Aside from its distance to the mainland of Western Australia, divers will initially be turned off to plan for a dive in Rowley Shoals due to the limited spots that can be explored, granting, that it only has three coral atolls. But as you dig deeper for more information and finalize your dive plan, you will realize that you will heading out for an amazing offshore underwater adventures courtesy from its pristine and virgin reefs.

Broome: Your Jump-Off Point

Most dive charters going to Rowley Shoals will take off from the coastal town of Broome in Kimberley of Western Australia and will set sail out at sea for at least 5 days to maximize your western marine Aussie Outback experience.

At the port of Broome, you will board your boat which will become your home away from home. These boats are classified as liveaboard dive boats that are custom built to offer you a comfortable accommodation while having enough space for gear preparation and storage. Speaking of gears, it is highly advisable to bring your own equipment as most dive charters only provide tanks and weights.

After a relaxing 12-hour journey while getting yourself acquainted with the boat’s deck, your underwater adventures in Rowley Shoals will commence as you arrive in this Western edges of Australia where world-class diving sites awaits you.

Mermaid Reef

Type of Diving: Reef, Deep, Wreck, Wall and Night Diving

Maximum Depth: 40 meters (132 feet)

Visibility: 20 -30 meters (60 – 100 feet)

Being located at the northernmost end of Rowley Shoals doesn’t just mean exploring a pristine reef in total isolation, but also diving in a transition zone where waters from the shallows and deep meet.

  • The Wall

Photo courtesy from Explore Parks WA – Parks and Wildlife Service

The outer rim of the coral atoll in Mermaid reef is a perfect spot to go vertical wall diving. As you start your descent, you will initially touchdown at the shallow reef crest where this area alone is already teeming with reef fish. Continuing your dive allows you to traverse down following a vertical wall that goes as deep as 440 meters (1,443 feet) before it reaches the seafloor. However, you have to be aware of the maximum depth limit set for recreational scuba diving, which in this case is 42 meters (140 feet). But this does not mean that your underwater adventures is compromised with this depth limitation as maximum marine life interaction can be experienced at 30 meters (100 feet). Name it, the Wall of Mermaid reef has it: sharks, sea turtles, sailfish, jacks and tunas, not to mention the vibrant reef wall filled with large sea fans.




  • Wreck Diving in MV Lively

Photo courtesy from MUDGEE DIVE AND TRAVEL

The treacherous navigational route of Mermaid reef would easily tell you that the possibility of having shipwrecks in the area is high. While this navigational challenge may be true when you maneuver towards the inner atoll and the lagoon, the vast area outside the reef would discount the possibility of finding a wreck. But in reality, there is one that you can explore.

Discovered only during the early 1980s, the remains of a wooden English Whaler MV Lively was charted resting on top of the crest of Mermaid reef, and luckily it didn’t sunk near the vertical ledges. Despite being totally wrecked, you can still see some of the remains where its 3-meter anchor is a popular site for underwater photography.

Clerke Reef

Type of Diving: Reef, Deep, Drift, Wall and Night Diving

Maximum Depth: 40 meters (132 feet)

Visibility: 20 -30 meters (60 – 100 feet)

Due to its central location, Clerke reef is the most visited and explored site in this part of Western Australia where you can find most of the popular dives in Rowley Shoals.

  • Blue Lagoon’s Aquarium

Photo courtesy from 50 Great Dives Australia

When you arrive at Rowley Shoals, one of the first dive sites that you will explore is the confined areas inside the atoll. Nicknamed the Aquarium, the atoll of Clerke reef houses a lagoon where conditions are perfect to get accustomed with your equipment and the general physical surroundings of Rowley shoals.

This dive is relatively easy courtesy to its confined properties. While it may sound boring for experienced divers, wait until you reach the central edges of the lagoon where you can go deep diving up to 30 meters (100 feet) and the safety stop at 3 meters (15 feet) while hovering will give you a panoramic view of the crystal clear surroundings underwater.




  • Driftin in Clerke’s Passages

This popular dive in Rowley Shoals will put your scuba equipment to archive as this experience is best enjoyed when you go snorkeling.

Given the fact that Rowley shoals has one of the world’s biggest tidal fluctuation where the difference can go as high as 4 meters (13 feet), sweeping currents is almost synonymous with diving in Clerke reef. However, the speed of current is further intensified when you explore the narrow and winding passages that acts as an entrance or exit to the lagoon.

While high tide is one of the natural tidal fluctuation, snorkeling in Clerke’s passages is best experience during ebb at low tide. Preparing for this swift adventure requires you to position yourself inside the lagoon moments before the end of slack tide going to ebb. With all snorkeling equipment on, you will enter one on of the many passages and initially ride along a mild current. With current speed ranging from 0.5 to 1 knot, you will definitely enjoy this effortless dive where your fins will act as a rudder rather than for forward motion. As you move hundreds of meters inside the passage, current speed will gain up and experience a sweeping 5 knots as you reach the outlet of the passage.

The experience most snorkelers share to us during their surface drift is similar to an adrenaline build-up. But as you reach the outlet of the passage, this heart pounding experience will eventually be changed to a tranquil state as you approach the deep waters of the blue where your liveaboard vessel awaits your presence and ready to serve you with refreshing drinks.

It’s that it? No, not yet. The areas that we just presented in this article are just the popular dive sites that you can explore in Rowley shoals. Remember this, each of the coral atoll in Rowley shoals has an area of at least 80 square kilometers (31 square miles) and that most of it is submerged. This means that there are more areas in Rowley shoals that is yet to be discovered. And before we end this article, you might wonder why we did not include Imperieuse reef? We find it more interesting for you to discover the wonders of this southernmost part of Rowley shoal as this reef is considered to be the least visited and explored.

For more information, you can read our related article about Rowley Shoals.


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