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Abyss Scuba Diving
Diving Martin Island: The Ultimate Guide to Sydney's Only True Seal Dive
Situated about one hour south of Sydney is a one of the most astounding underwater adventures you can do along the New South Wales coastline. Nested about a few kilometres off the coastline from Port Kembla resides a small chain of islands known as the Five Islands Nature Reserve. The southernmost island in the group is Martin Island, technically, not big enough to be called an island, but an islet because of it being just 2.3ha’s in size, so its actual name is Martin Islet.
As winter approaches each June, something truly astonishing occurs to this tiny island that attracts divers back year after year. As ocean waters cool and the days become shorter, life returns to Martin Island. Bird numbers begin to increase, majestic Humpback whales arrive on their northern migration and most importantly for dives, the majestic Australian Fur Seals begin to haul out.
The Seals at Martin Island
Even though you can occasionally find small quantities of seals further north, Martin Island is the most northern significant haul out location on the east coast of Australia. A haul out in basic terms, is a colony of seals, predominantly male, that inhabits a site temporarily in preparation for the next breeding season.
The main colony of seals always inhabits the southern-eastern corner of Martin's Islet, with numerous more individuals dotted in small, more hidden areas along the southern side of the islet. The dive location is chosen on a given day based upon the conditions on that day, the activity of the seals on that day and based upon what dive site will provide divers with the most rewarding experience.
This is definitely one dive like no other. When diving with the seals at Martin Island, Interaction is the key to maximum fun, all the seals want to do is play, they are super curious. If a diver does not play with the seals, then the seals will find someone else that will.
The Underwater World of Martin Island
In addition to the seals, throughout your dive keep an eye out for the giant Smooth Stingrays as they glide along under you. They are nature's cleaners and follow the seals everywhere. Diving Martin Island is worth it just for a chance to dive with these giant stingrays.
Humpback Whales are also a common sight, sometimes remarkably close to the shoreline and the boat. Divers might hear the whales singing or even lucky enough to see one during their dive.
On The Day of The Seal Dive
Diving at Martin Island is an incredibly special experience, and we are dedicated to helping you get the most from your dive. Here are some key things to know if you are taking one of our Martin Island dives.
- The Dive Centre is in Ramsgate, around a 20-minute drive from the centre of Sydney and one hour from the boat pick-up at the Port Kembla wharf.
- It is required to show up at the diving centre at Ramsgate in time to collect your equipment rental, show your certification card, and sign any relevant paperwork. We are one hour from Port Kembla wharf, via the Princes Highway, located near Wollongong. Please arrive at the wharf 20 minutes prior to departure to ensure you have time to complete all check-in formalities and get kitted up for your dive.
- The boat will pick you up from Port Kembla (Foreshore Drive, Port Kembla). To reach there, head past Wollongong and take the five-island road exit. Follow the five islands road, not far away take a left onto old port road and then a right into foreshore road
- Port Kembla Harbour Wharf has plentiful free parking and is conveniently located only fifty or so meters from the dock.
- As a diver, you are not required to bring anything else with you on the boat. On board, there is a boat toilet, hot showers, and we carry spare equipment for emergencies in addition to dive weights. However, please do not forget to bring your camera as you will make a lot of memories while diving.
- If you do not have a buddy, we will be there for you. On our boat dives, we will buddy you up with another diver of similar ability and after your detailed briefing, you can either be guided by our divemaster or be a buddy pair to experience the seals at their best.
- SMB’s (Safety sausages) are required on all our boat dives. They are necessary to minimize the risk to you if you surface a distance from the boat and/or get caught in a strong current.
- The seal dives are ideal for Open Water Scuba Divers with the best seal experience at a depth of 6 to 15 metres. The dive site can allow dives down to 25-metres, but open water scuba divers will get the best diving by staying around the 10-metre mark.
What Divers Say about Martin Island: