Monday, 8 July 2013

Snorkel Safari Brisbane (Flinders Reef)

Location: Flinders Reef, Moreton Island, Australia. 

Australia is known for having some of the most incredible reefs in the world. Brisbane's one true coral reef, Flinders Reef, is Brisbane's little gem and one of the most impressive reefs along the eastern coast of Australia. It is located just off Moreton Island and is part of the fully protected marine sanctuary known as Moreton Bay Marine Park.

This expansive reef comprises of 112 coral species, including; staghorn, brain, plate, sponges and sea whips and boasts more coral diversity than any individual island in the Great Barrier Reef. This diving hot spot is home to 175 species of marine fish, turtles, wobbegongs, nudibranchs, clams, guitar sharks, white tip reef sharks, octopus, blue spotted eagle rays and the occasional manta ray. The crew advised us that this reef owes its high level of biodiversity to the warm and cold currents that meet here, enabling a high number of species to thrive within these limits.

Water temperatures vary throughout the year ranging between 18 to 27 degrees Celsius. We recommend asking for an estimated water temperature at the time of booking to ensure you are adequately geared. If you often get cold during your dive we highly recommend the use of Sharkskin products available through the Snorkel Safari group. A review on this product is coming soon. 

Snorkel Safari Brisbane 

Snorkel Safari is an Australian based franchise group with 13 stores. These stores are among the most professional dive operators in the country and also offer snorkeling, free diving, spearfishing and in some cases whale watching. Snorkel Safari stores collaborate, with a shared aim of providing a consistently high product and service to their customers.

Snorkel Safari Brisbane changed its company name and product offering just over two years ago. This change brought on a switch from offering PADI to SSI certifications. Snorkel Safari have a collaboration with many key dive product suppliers, setting them apart in many respects from other dive operators.

Snorkel Safari Brisbane is prominently located just off the motor way in Milton, Brisbane City. Their open water courses are operated at Cook Island on the Gold Coast and their advanced courses are offered on the Big Cat which is a weekend live-aboard.

Snorkel Safari Brisbane are also proud to offer free diving lessons taught by Australia's female champion, 23 year old Amber Bourke. Amber is an SSI level 2 free diving instructor who has broken two national records by swimming 155 meters without fins and 181 meters with fins on a single breath. If you want to be instructed by the best possible free diving instructors, then contact Snorkel Safari Brisbane.

Our dive experience with Snorkel Safari Brisbane is outlined below.

The Vessel

The Nemo is Snorkel Safari Brisbane's dive vessel. With a maximum speed of 20 knots it takes only 1.5 hours to get from the mainland to Flinders Reef. The vessel has space for 17 passengers but is capped at 14 to ensure there is ample space on board and smaller dive groups. The vessel has two step down/up ladders at the back making entry and exit from the water simple and safe. With ample space on board for dive tanks the company may soon be offering three dives per trip, which means you can see more of the reef and make most of the opportunity. 


Snorkel Safari Brisbane ensure that there are plenty of sandwiches, snacks and drinks. This is part of their aim to ensure passengers are as comfortable as possible. They are able to cater for any dietary requirements so be sure to notify the staff when you make your booking.

Dive Breakdowns 

Snorkel Safari Brisbane's staff are both friendly and welcoming. I found they were just as eager to learn about your skills, abilities and experiences as you are to learn of theirs. Once we geared up and loaded our equipment onto the vessel, we were on our way. It was not long before we were accompanied by the first group of breaching humpback whales, on our journey out to the reef.

On the day we completed two dives, the first was at Mary's Lair and the second at Mooring A. It is not compulsory to dive with a dive guide but for obvious reasons it is always recommended to do so when diving new site. 

Both dive sites are very enjoyable with ample light penetration and clear water with approximately 20 meters visibility. Coral at this reef extends for as far as one can see in every direction. With very little variation in depth, it is easy to control your buoyancy allowing you to glide slightly above the coral. These conditions provide for an enjoyable and relaxing dive.

Dive #1 - Mary's Lair

Dive Details:

Maximum Depth: 13.0 (m) / 43 (ft)
Water Temperature: 21 degrees Celsius
Downtime: 45 minutes

Mary's Lair was a lot of fun to dive. A side from the excellent visibility on the day we experienced a mild current. The 13 meter maximum depth at this dive site allowed for a significant level of light penetration which helped to emphasize the vibrant colors of the coral and marine life. This immediately makes you feel happy and  relaxed during the dive.

Once we traveled a short distance along one side of the reef we came to an opening of an easy and pleasant swim-through. Should you be nervous about trying wreck or cave diving this swim-through would provide for a good introduction as plenty of light comes through from the top keeping the space both bright and appear open.

Once we emerged from the swim-through on the other side we were over a massive bed of coral where we encountered our first turtle. Beautiful corals and clams covered the sea bed. 

A particularly enjoyable experience at Flinders Reef are the many bat fish which follow you closely. They are especially friendly during your safety stop coming within a meter from the group. 

Dive #2 - Mouring A (Turtle Cleaning Station)

Dive Details:

Maximum Depth: 10.2 (m) / 43 (ft)
Water Temperature: 21 degrees Celsius
Downtime: 44 minutes

After our first dive the Nemo was relocated to the sheltered side of Flinders Reef. On this side the most popular dive site is Mooring A. Very close to Mooring A is a turtle cleaning station where it is common to see green sea and hawkesbill turtles being cleaned. As we arrived we could not only see the bottom, at a depth of 10 meters, but we could also make out the color of each fish at this depth.

The fantastic thing about diving at a cleaning station is that the marine life tend to hover and prolong their stay allowing you to observe them better. The turtles appeared to be relaxed in our presence, coming close and circling around.


After spending about fifteen minutes watching the turtles at the cleaning station we continued to explore more of the vibrant reef. We encountered many types of nudibranchs including a spanish dancer, and endless coral formations inhabited by many types of reef fish. 

As we surfaced from our second dive we were lucky enough to have a pod of four whales breaching approximately 75 meters from the boat. A fantastic way to cap off the perfectly sunny and calm conditions.

Overall Rating:

Snorkel Safari Brisbane is a very professional dive operation with its key focus on the social aspect of diving. This is in-line with Dive Flag App's philosophy that people of all types, ages and nationalities are brought together with a shared interest of diving to form strong and significant life-long friendships.

The staff at Snorkel Safari are quick to make you feel welcome and a part of their community. This is further emphasized by the dive ball they hold annually. Their balls are aimed to bring divers from all over Queensland together under one roof to share stories, tips and ideas. I was lucky enough to attend their 80s themed dive ball this year and had a fantastic time. I look forward to working closely with Snorkel Safari Brisbane to ensure the attendance from this point on continues to grow each year.

Strategically based in Brisbane City, Snorkel Safari offer dive excursions from HMAS Brisbane in Maroochydore down to Cook Island on the Gold Coast as well as dive trips internationally. This ensures that their customers experience a diverse range of dive conditions and prevents them from becoming complacent.

The owners and dive guides at Snorkel Safari Brisbane are passionate about Flinders Reef and this comes across in the energy they exude when talking about it. They're quick to emphasize how unique the reef is and how its Brisbane's best kept secret. What is best about this, is everything they said on the day was exactly what we experienced, lending further belief to the credibility of this dive operation.

The owners of Snorkel Safari Brisbane also run another business called Respond Right Training Group. This business teaches professionals workplace approved CPR and first aid. The company takes safety seriously are do not take any unnecessary risks.

Dive Flag App proudly support Snorkel Safari Brisbane and look forward to diving with them again some time soon. If you're interested in diving the reef, popping in to say g'day or part-take in one of their many courses then contact them today! Otherwise for more information check their website out now.

Dive Flag App Rating 10 / 10

Thanks guys!

Frank Vorster
Dive Flag App


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