Looking from the sandy slope out to the blue turn left and the reef wall ascends up from the deep where there are caves. The reef here starts about 3 metres from the surface, drops to about 16-20 metres and then slopes diagonally to 40 metres where it drops off to the unknown. There is one large cavern with 2 entrances at 9 and 16 metres and exits on the otherside to a gutter at about 6 metres. Here you might surprise a few white tip reef sharks laying in wait, when exiting the caves explore the vast array of gutters and swim throughs.
This is a large flat sandy area of average depth of 9 metres near Amazing where Rum Runner conducts their shark feed. After the shark feed is over it is well worth exploring the small bommies that surround the site to see sharks and schooling barracuda.
Shark feed at Predators Playground
This site is a Rum Runner exclusive which is not visited by other operators, at least I don't think so, have asked about it on Mike Ball's Spoil Sport and Spirit of Freedon crew on numerous trips with them. Any how this is where Rum Runner moors for the night and the site is perfect for night diving as the wall with numerous caves descends down to a valley floor of 26 metres but behind the wall there is a flat sandy large area at 10 metres where there are lots of small bommies and swim throughs. Here at night you will come across the green eyes of white tip reef sharks on the hunt, many crusteans that come out and you, careful not to disturb the sleeping turtle.
As a precursor to the night dive you can be dropped off for a long drift along the wall which does break the surface at low tide and descends down to the valley floor about 26 metres. There are many caves, swim throughs and gutters to explore along the way. In the morning there is another dive to the valley floor at 26 metres and slopes over a wide area down to 35 metres before it drops off to the unknown. Find 2 large rocky outcrops one goes to the left of the wall but swim towards the right outcrop and follow it the depth vary's from about 18 metres up to 12 metres which leads where you can easily swim back to the main wall and return to the boat along it doing your safety stop swimming back. If there is current here it usually takes you back to the boat.
This is a bommie named after a Japanese diver and has a top of 7 metres descending to 20 then 30 metres where there are large gorgonian fans. The bommie has a split down the middle and a couple of swim throughs so is a fun dive. The main attraction is the hundreds of soft corals all over the bommie and down deeper large gorgonian fans.
This is a wall at the end of the reef that has an ocean side and a shallower lagoon side. The Cathedral is on the shallow side and it is not that shallow because you cannot see the bottom and the ocean side is know as the Abyss. There is a large underwater river or waterfall along this wall as you can see a distinct river like cutting with rubble, there a down currents here you need to watch out for but the wall is a good dive with lots of bio diversity.
This is a site known as the Abyss as the wall descends down to over 1000 metres and has caves around the top leading into gutters and canyons iin the reef. This is a morning drift dive in either direction depending on the direction of current. Looking out to the blue you can spot grey reef sharks and sometimes silver tips and hammerheads. Last time I diived here there were a school of baby grey reef sharks curiously swimming about, the caves in the top of the wall leading back to gutters in the reef is probably a nursery area.
Line of Sight
This is a drift dive along a ridge between the two reefs, loads of biodiversity exist along here but the viz is often not as good and the current is sometimes strong.
At the northern end of East Holmes Reef is a large area wher the underwater topology can only be destribed as valleys and mountains a lot current was here when I dived there but the best diving is to get dropped off and just go with the strong current through valleys and around bommies and peaks. Then just put up your saftey sausage and surface to get picked up.
This is a small reef that is usually dived after lunch on the last day. After diving the Abyss and Cathedral in the morning we head off to Flora during lunch and have 2 afternoon dives before returning to Cairns. There are some strange caves here, a maze that can only be destribed as lava tubes in the first location. And the 2nd is a wall which is an very interesting place to dive, when I dived there I discovered 6 silver tips and 8 grey reef sharks swimming about the wall just under the boat.
Bougainville Reef lies between Holmes and Osprey reef's and 140km beyond the Great Barrier Reef, some 225km east of Cooktown. It is the remains of an extinct volcano, it is oval in shape with a blue lagoon at its centre and sheer walls risng 6,000ft or 1.8km from the ocean floor. Bougainville Reef also presents a particular danger to shipping, lying near the direct route from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, and the track via Rossell Island to the Far East. Several ships have come to grief on its walls and for this reason a permanent light becan was erected in 1958, navigation tower in 1961 and now an automatic weather station forming part of Australia’s comprehensive weather reporting network.
Diving along the sheer walls of Bougainville reef is thrilling and is a great experience, because of its sheer walls there are no safe overnight anchorage points and is dived on the last day of a Coral Sea liveaboard trip the boat arriving in the morning and leaving at sunset. The wide diversity of marine life and corals in the area does provide a spectacular experience to swim with snappers, surgeonfish, sweetlips and drummer. You’ll even see grey reef sharks as they frequent the area, white tip reef sharks patrolling through the maze of gutters and caves that exists behind the walls as well as hawksbill turtles and angelfish. Dive sites here can be drifts anywhere along the wall and Rum Runner has its favourite spots and then there are Dungeons and Dragons, Corner Shop and West Point.
I returned to Holmes reef aboard Rum Runner on September 30th 2013 diving Holmes and Bougainville reef's and hopefully we return again before the end of this year so will be putting up more pictures and video's in a new JQuery slideshow feature. Stay tuned!