With a long history of a shipping port, Portland also boasts a sad history of ship wrecks. This history grants divers a great option for exploration of wrecks and reefs with sites that are accessible from shore and boat.
With known historical wrecks and some that are still yet to be located the options are endless. Along with historical wrecks there is the Emil S a trawler sunk of Lawrence Rock by the Portland Dive Club.
Shore dives around Portland offer different opportunities for the beginner right through to the experienced cave dive certified divers.The shore dives have varying degrees of access and some involve ladder and rope work.
There are no local dive specific charters available from Portland, local fishing charters are often used for marine tours whale watching and dive boats.
Lee Breakwater Shore Dive
Lee Breakwater offers a great quick and easy to access dive. The location of the dive makes it a good option for beginners as the issue of disorientation is eliminated. The breakwater is frequented by Fish, Penguins, Stingrays,Eel, Sea Dragons, Shark, Crayfish and on occasions Seals.One issue that divers may come across is the popularity of the breakwater for fishing, caution is needed to avoid active and broken lines. The popularity of fishing lends the option of collecting a full tackle box of hooks, swivels and sinkers for your fishing trip.
Where; Lee Breakwater / Nuns Beach
Depth; 1 to 1.5 metres
Qualification Requirements; Open water diving, Snorkeling possible.
Crumpets and Pivot Beach Shore Dive
These beaches offer a variety of growth and fish life. Access to the beach can be gained with a four wheel drive if driving over the beach at Pivot. Both beaches have a reef at either end and often large amounts of kelp can be found in the shallows. If you can get through the kelp the dive is enjoyable and Abalone and Crayfish can be found.
Where; Pivot Fertilizers, Maderia Packet Road. Portland
Depth; 1.5 to 2 metres
Qualification Requirements; Open water diving
North Shore Shore Boat Dive
Diving over the limestone bottom at north shore offers a scenic dive and the chance of locating a shark tooth. This site has yielded teeth measuring up to 8cm in length. Even if you don’t find a tooth there is a wide variety of fish life that make the dive enjoyable.
Where; Western end of Dutton Way
Qualification requirements; Open water diving.
Minerva Reef Shore or Boat Dive
This reef offers another chance to find fossile teeth. A shallow dive that is a good start point for beginners. This site requires a white dive flag to be shown when diving.
Where; Eastern end of Duttom Way
Depth; 3 to 5 metres
Qualification requirements; Open water diving.
Lighthouse Reef Shore or Boat Dive
The resting spot of the New Zealander a coal ship set alight in 1953. Large arrays of sea life populate the reef and descendants on current parts of the wreck are visible. When the sun is shining and the water is clear visibility at the reef makes for a stunning dive. There is a short beach walk required for shore access but the sheltered area makes the walk worthwhile. Alternatively the shallow and often clear water makes snorkeling this site a good option.
Where;Northern end of Nun’s Beach under the lighthouse, Parking available at Nun’s Beach
Depth; 1 to 4 metres
Qualifications required Open water diving. Snorkeling possible.
Cape Nelson Shore or Boat Dive
It is advised that if possible a boat dive is taken for this site as ladders and ropes are required to get down to the site if a shore dive is undertaken. There are a large number of different dives that can be taken. As a general area this offers a good variety with sand bottom through to kelp Forrest and swim through’s. Two wrecks can be found in the area and work is still happening to identify the ships involved.
Where; Cape Nelson Road
Depth; 6 to 36 metres – dependent on site
Qualifications required Open water diving
Portland Bay Reef Boat Dive.
Due to the location of this particular reef it is advisable to check on planned ship movement before diving. The reef is on the outside of the harbour. The rounded shape of the reef and a variety of fish, sea dragons and the odd crayfish make it a nice spot for those taking photo’s.
Where; Portland Harbour Corkscrew
Depth 10 to 15 metres
Qualifications required Open water diving.
Lawrence Rock Boat Dive
This dive is one of Portland’s best with stunning natural architecture, abundant marine life and kelp forests. Seals favor the area and the above rocks house one of the local Gannet Colonies. Cray pots are often set around the rocks so take care and watch for lines. The north side of the dive site rises quickly and is home to crayfish and abalone .The southern end has a large and almost amphitheater shape. The wreck of the Emily S is situated only a short distance from this site.
Where; Lawrence rocks
Depth; 24 to 30 metres
Qualifications required Advanced / Open water diving
The Nursery Boat Dive
Boulders, crevices and caves are the main feature of this dive. One of the four caves at the Nursery lead up into what is referred to as the Cockpit that will fit up to four divers and is a mass of fun. In the shallower water you will find a good cover of plant life that houses a variety of fish and sea life.
Where; Lawrence Rocks
Depth 5 to 25 metres
Required qualifications Open water with Advanced cave/ wreck for cave entry.
Emily S Boat Dive
Sitting upright on her keel around 350 metre from the rock lies the Emily S. Sunk as a project by the Portland Dive Club in 1991 the Emily S was a 30 metre trawler and sits on the sheltered side of the rock between two rock reefs. The sheltered nature of the dive makes it a good opportunity for novice divers but also a good dive for more advanced divers
Where; Larwence Rocks north side
Depth 24 metres
Required qualifications; Open water with cave/wreck if entering wreck.
Saxon Reef Boat Dive
This dive is a mix of natural and artificial reef. The Saxon an old fishing vessel was sunk here to help form up the artificial reef. The result of the two combine to form interesting swim through’s and overhangs that shelter plant growth and other marine life including one or more permanent residents. The Wobbegongs that reside in the reef are generally placid in nature if you are willing to leave them alone.
Where; North Shore
Depth 9 metres
Required qualification; Open water diving
Cape Bridgewater Boat Dive
The Cape Bridgewater dive comes with as many charms as challenges. The greatest charm is the proximity to the seal colony. Seals are everywhere and will soon come and join you on your dive. These inquisitive and playful creatures can snatch crayfish from under you. If chasing crays and other fish be aware of the marine park on the western side of the cape and if in doubt leave the fishing for elsewhere. The mass number of seals also encourages sharks, great whites frequent the area and are seen more often when seal pups are finding their flippers. From October through to January it is advisable to stay out of the water to avoid becoming a meal,If you are diving from your own boat there is a ramp at the Bridgewater Beach, Swimming from the beach is not a practical option due to the distance out to the dive.