Australians are well accustomed to beach life. But while sunbathing, swimming and surfing are second nature to many, a significantly lower number have properly experienced life underwater.

Enter scuba diving. Whether you're a visitor to the east coast or you've lived there your whole life, you'll see a new side to Australia when you experience its marine world. For this reason, a scuba diving expedition should be on your to-do list this summer. Grab a mask, scuba tank and a couple of friends, hop into your rental, and learn to dive these holidays.

What does learning to dive involve?

First things first, you'll need to know how to scuba dive. Unlike snorkelling, there are certain regulations and requirements that have to be met before hitting the water. A licence from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is what you'll need to spend summer exploring the land below ground. 

A PADI license lets you dive anywhere in the world. Getting one of these licences is also particularly convenient in Australia, as we have numerous dive centres scattered all over the place.

While diving is relatively easy, there are a few things that need to be confirmed before you've even put on a wet  suit. Being comfortable in deep water and having a reasonable level of swimming ability is important. There's also a small amount of study involved before the first lesson (don't worry, not much!).

Now comes the fun part. Starting in a swimming pool, you'll get used to the equipment and breathe underwater for the first time. After this is the open water course which involves a dive in the ocean. Most people will find that this first dip leaves them starving for more.

Where can you learn?

The east coast's proximity to the ocean means you'll find no shortage of places that will teach you to dive.

The east coast's proximity to the ocean means you'll find no shortage of places that will teach you to dive. Sydney, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast all have PADI-certified beginners diving courses, usually just a short drive from the city centre.

Dive Centre Manly, for example, is located in Sydney's popular eponymous beach. Alternatively, there are a huge number of learn-to-dive PADI courses available in beautiful holiday spots such as the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Furthermore, these programmes often offer courses taught in German or Japanese, so tourists can join in the fun. Hire a car in Cairns, or one of our many other car rental facilities along the east coast, and start your summer holiday with a proper splash. 

Best dive spots in Australia's East Coast

Port Douglas

About 70  kilometres from Cairns, you'll find a luxe holiday town. With many gorgeous resorts and hotels, Port Douglas is a great place to relax and unwind. It also offers excellent access to the GBR making it the perfect spot to start your scuba adventure. 

Booking with a reliable company such as Blue Dive is the best way to get you out to the most exciting parts of the reef. You and your group will head out on a boat to the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, where the stunning visibility makes it easy to see the array of wildlife, including numerous species of fish, coral, turtles, reef sharks and if you're lucky, whales and manta rays. Indeed, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority hails Agincourt as the "best and most pristine examples of coral reefs in the whole GBR".

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Nov 6, 2015 at 3:09am PST

HMAS Brisbane, Sunshine Coast

For a dive site that satisfies your inner Indiana Jones, you can do no better than the HMAS Brisbane. A former Navy vessel, the HMAS Brisbane was launched in 1966 according to the Queensland government's National Department of Parks, Sport and Racing. The ship served dutifully until it was decommissioned, then sunk in 2005 to create an artificial reef and diving site. 

Since then, all manner of marine life has moved in. The Parks department noted that within a year, the ship was entirely covered in plant life and that countless fish had already made their homes there. You'll see turtles, fish and a range of live coral all amongst the ruins of a war ship – does it get more intrepid? 

North Stradbroke Island, Brisbane

Park your rental in the marina and board a ferry for a day trip to this picturesque little island. While North Stradbroke Island is a destination in its own right; it's waters are particularly renowned for their abundant wildlife. Manta rays, dolphins, turtles and, according to Lonely Planet, humpback whales between June and November.

In particular, Manta Bommie, as the name would suggest, is home to a huge host of manta rays, as well as numerous reef sharks and turtles. Swimming alongside these wonderful animals is bound to make for an unforgettable summer.