Picture of fish swimming through the HMAS Hobart war ship near Rapid Bay, South Australia

Fish swim through the window of a shipwreck off the coast of South Australia.

Photograph by Jun Zhang, Shutterstock

Peter Turner

South Australia has hundreds of recorded shipwrecks along its coast and many can be dived. Some have been deliberately sunk, such as the well-known HMAS Hobart, for they provide a haven for marine life and recreational diving. The state has many other good diving options with reefs, sponges, soft corals, and large fish populations to explore.

Keep an eye out for South Australia’s marine emblem, the leafy sea dragon, found only on the southern and western coasts of Australia. Related to the seahorse, this curious creature has leafy protrusions that provide excellent camouflage in seaweed.

Map of South Australia

Fleurieu Peninsula

The Hobart was a guided missile destroyer built in the U.S. and commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1965. It did three tours of duty during the Vietnam War, where it was damaged and two of its sailors were killed by friendly fire. Decommissioned in 2000, it was sunk in 2002 as a dive wreck in a hundred feet of water, about two miles off the coast near Rapid Bay. A diving permit is required and can be obtained online. Underwater Sports Diving Centre runs dive tours of the wreck.

The Rapid Bay jetty is one of the easiest places to see the leafy sea dragon, often spotted in the sea grass beds around the jetty, as well as a host of other fish species.

Aldinga reef has good diving off Aldinga Beach. The best diving is found is out on the drop-off at the edge of the reef, usually reached by boat from O’Sullivan Beach, where dive charters are based. Protected by a marine reserve, it is teeming with fish, sponges, and other marine life, and is one of the most spectacular dives close to Adelaide.

On the outskirts of Adelaide, the Port Noarlunga reef is popular for diving and snorkeling and can be accessed from the jetty or the beach.

Yorke Peninsula

The wreck of the Zanoni lies 15 nautical miles off the coast from Ardrossan on the east of the Yorke Peninsula; diving requires a permit due to the ship’s historical significance. Built in 1865 and sunk in 1867, this three-masted, 139-footer is surprisingly intact for her age.

The three-masted Songvaar, built in England in 1884, sits off Wardang Island near Point Pearce on the west of the peninsula. After it sunk in 1912, it was deemed a shipping hazard and was blasted. The wreckage is scattered but marine life is abundant, with large schools of fish inhabiting the area.

Chinamans Hat Island at the bottom of the peninsula has excellent diving, with reef ledges, caves, crevices, reef fish, and stingrays. The Edithburgh jetty is good for snorkeling, while good diving and wrecks are found farther out in the Troubridge Shoals.

Eyre Peninsula

Wrecks and good diving are found on both sides of the Eyre Peninsula. Near Elliston in the remote west, Investigator Marine Park is rich in soft corals, sponges, and sea stars. You’ll also find reef fish, abalone, lobsters, and several species of shark, including great white sharks that are attracted to the area by seals and sea lions. The park includes the Top-Gallant Isles, considered one of the state’s best dives.


Best Bet: Experienced wreck divers can follow the Investigator Strait Shipwreck Trail detailing ten shipwrecks between the Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. The Wardang Island Maritime Heritage Trail features eight shipwrecks around Wardang Island, near Port Victoria on the Yorke Peninsula.


Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities

2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

  • Picture of a volcano on Reunion Island

    Who Will Win?

    Browse photos of nature, cities, and people and share your favorite photos.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Get Social With Nat Geo Travel