Oceania consists of several regions which can be divided into Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
While Australia is mainly famous among divers for the Great Barrier Reef there is so much more to discover underwater. One of the main attraction for scuba divers along the East Coast are big pelagics, especially friendly grey nurse sharks and marble rays. In the cold South some macro sites do have rare and special small critters like the striped pyjama squid. Sea dragons are endemic in the south of Australia. The West Coast then offers big stuff again with many types of sharks and even whales during the season.
Fiji offers some of the best colorful soft coral with abundant fish life. In addition the baited sharks dives are one of the main attractions. It is possible to dive resort based or from liveaboards. The currents around the islands can get strong.
The 3rd largest reef structure is situated in New Caledonia building up the world’s biggest lagoon. The barrier reef stretches over 1500 km and a lot of it still remains undiscovered. New species are discribed in the area regularly. Scuba divers can expect encounters with dugongs, dolphins and rare endemic species.
Papua New Guinea
Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea was the birth place of muck diving for a reason. Besides offering some of the best muck diving there are coral reefs with incredible biodiversity and hundreds of wrecks.
The Solomon Islands offer hundreds of World War II wrecks, not only ships but even aircraft and submarines. The pristine coral reefs around the islands are healthy and abundant with fish life. Manta Ray and shark encounters are not uncommon.
The wreck of the S.S. President Coolidge is the most famous dive site in Vanuatu. This luxury ocean liner has been used as troopship during WWII where it sunk after hitting a mine. Little has been salvaged so scuba divers can find guns, trucks, personal items as well as a statue. Penetration is possible through several openings. Besides the famous wreck Vanuatu offers several reef dives and some other wrecks.
Palau is probably the most famous country for scuba diving in this region. Everyone has heard about the incredible visibility at the blue corner and the big animal encounters which will leave you speachless. Common sights around the 350 islands are sharks (loads of grey reef, hammerheads), mantas, schooling barracuda and jacks, tuna, rays and the most friendly napoleon wrasses. In addition some amazing WWII wrecks lay in the bays close to Koror. Another world-famous site is a lake where it is possible to snorkel with thousands of non-stingy jellyfish.
Federated States of Micronesia
The most famous diving destinations here are Chuuk (with Truk Lagoon) and Yap.
The main naval base of the Japanese during WWII was located in Chuuk. With around 70 ship and 200 aircrafts sunk in the lagoon this is a must for all wreck diving enthusiasts. Many of the wrecks of the “Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon” remain intact, lie at diveable depths and are penetrable by divers.
Yap is mainly famous for its resident manta rays. Sights are almost guaranteed.
The island of Kosrae is more isolated and much less tourists make it to its coral reefs. Encounters along its walls include shark, tuna, napoleon wrasse, rays, turtles and schooling barracuda.
A resident population of manta, including the all black ones, is one of the main attraction for scuba divers in Pohnpei. Besides these gentle giants it is possible to see schooling barracuda and tuna, turtles, sharks, rays as well as reef fish.
Probably the most special diving opportunity here is the nuclear fleet at the Bikini Atoll. The marine life around the atomic islands are said to be incredible as no one has been there for such a long time. With drop-offs, wrecks, coral pinnacles and channels teaming with large pelagics the Marshall Islands are a top diving destination besides the infamous Bikini Atoll.
Kiribati, a remote archipelago of 33 islands and atolls, is home of one of the biggest marine reserves in the South Pacific. Scuba divers can look forward to encounters with manta, reef shark, eagle rays, spinner dolphins and turtles.
This country doesn’t seem to have developed a scuba diving industry yet.
Guam is the most developed island in Micronesia and part of the USA. For most it is just a hub to get to other islands in the area. However, the island does offer some beautiful hard and soft coral reefs, schooling fish as well as encounters with big pelagics.
Other US territories in the region are Northern Mariana Islands and Wake Island. While the access to Wake Island is restricted Northern Mariana Islands can be visited. It offers the colorful coral in amazing visibility which is typical for this region with some sharks, rays, napoleon wrasses and reef fish.
The region of Polynesia lies in the triangle between New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island. It includes 15 countries/dependencies; American Samoa (US territory), Cook Island, Easter Island (Chile), French Polynesia (France), Hawaii (US state), New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island (Australia), Pitcairn Island (British), Samoa, Tokelau (New Zealand), Tonga, Tavalu, Wallis and Futuna (France) and Rotuma (Fiji).
The diving differs depending on the location of the islands in the huge triangle. States in the west offer similar diving like Micronesia with drop-offs, colorful coral, reef fish, schooling fish and some large pelagics like sharks, manta and rays in fantastic visibility.
French Polynesia offers some amazing shark diving with many different types of sharks (including silver tips, lemon sharks and big groups of grey reef sharks) cruising in the strong currents through the channels. The most famous islands of this state are Tahiti and Bora Bora.
The island of Niue does not have any lakes or streams and the rain water is filtered through the limestone. Due to this some of the best visibility of up to 100 m can be found there.
The UK established the worlds largest marine reserve around the Pitcarn Islands. The islands are off the beaten track and the visibility can get low in certain areas. Lucky visitors can encounter sharks and there are some wrecks.
Tonga is possibly the best place in the world to snorkel with humpback whales during the summer season.
Hawaii lies in the far north of Polynesia and is mostly famous for breathtaking manta night dives. Besides endemic species it is possible to see sharks, turtles and reef fish.
Easter Island to the far east of the region of Polynesia. Many species here are endemic, but unfortunately the area seems overfished and not too much wildlife can be seen during the dives. There is an underwater Moai (stonehead the island is famous for) which was placed there for the movie about the island.
New Zealand lies all the way in the south west of the Polynesian triangle. The water temperature down there vary from 8 to 18°C. New Zealand offers marine reserves with huge schools of different fish, subtropical reefs and wrecks. Jacques Custeau even put the diving at the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve in his top 5 diving places.