Cook Island is a small rocky island surrounded by a marine park of Fingal Head, near the NSW and Queensland border. It is a popular site for scuba diving and snorkeling as there are usually a few turtles about.
I recently spent a weekend on the Gold Coast, flying from Sydney to Brisbane, then hiring a car for the hour or so trip to where I was staying at the Sea World resort. It was much cheaper to fly into Brisbane than Coolangatta, the price difference more than paid for the car rental. It seems like you can only get cheap flights to the Gold Coast on weekdays.
I booked a double boat dive with Kirra Dive, which is actually in Tweed Heads and not Kirra Beach, a couple of weeks before and met at the shop at 11am, an hour before our scheduled departure. After loading our gear onto their inflatable boat parked outside, we had our dive brief, then followed the boat to the launching ramp on the Tweed River. The trip out to Cook Island was not far, but the ride across the bar was tense and a bit bumpy, due to metre or so swell. We arrived in around fifteen minutes though, and were soon geared up and in the water.
The water was warmer than I had been led to believe. In Sydney the week before it was down to 19 degrees Celsius, up here it was closer to 23 degrees, which was very comfortable and allowed me to just wear a light spring suit.
The water was clear, but there was a bit of small swell about, with the occasional large set. We could see the bottom from the surface, which is always a good sign. We descended slowly, hitting the bottom at 13 metres depth. As prearranged we followed our dive leader away from the island towards where he told us the turtles lived. After a few minutes of swimming we came across our first Sea Turtle, followed quickly by at least a four more. Mostly they were lying on the bottom or near some rocks, either sleeping or lazing around. Occasionally one would get up and swim around. They appeared to be comfortable around divers, and would allow us to get close enough to take good photos and videos.
After 2o minutes diving with turtles we moved closer to the island and swam along its reef towards the shore. On this dive and the second dive I saw a variety of tropical and sub tropical life, including clown fish, a lion fish, and many wobbegone sharks, including one napping on a plate of coral.
The dives lasted 45 minutes each, with a maximum depth of 14 metres, but with an average under 10. During the second dive the current shifted and some dirtier water was washed in, but it was still enjoyable. Check out the video I took below for more.
The border area between NSW and Queensland has a lot of great diving, and I will try to get up here a more often. There are a few good shore dives nearby too, apparently, and with Byron Bay only an hour south and the HMAS Brisbane nearby too, it might be worth spending a week up here.
Leaving the Deep Blue Sea
Diving with Turtles at Cook Island
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