Scuba World – Mooloolaba

Ourdoor Activity

Great for kids

Scuba diving operator Scuba World has been bringing divers to the best underwater dives sites off Mooloolaba since the 1970s.

From the coral-covered reefs (just 15-minute boat ride from Mooloolaba), through to the spectacular ex-HMAS Brisbane wreck dive, a protected Marine Park that’s teeming with fish life. Scuba divers have a wide variety of choice of local dive sites – thanks largely to the pioneering work of Scuba World.

“We’ve always been diving the local reefs off Mooloolaba,” Scuba World’s current manager Mike McKinnon said.
Ian McKinnon (Mike’s father), who created Scuba World, along with the former owners of Sunreef, found a lot of the dive sites back in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s.

“It’s all sandstone rock formations, covered by hard and soft corals, all very healthy, there’s next to no bleaching, it’s very beautiful. You don’t get massive fish life like big schools of trevally and snapper, because it’s fished by locals as well, but there’s lots of smaller stuff and the local divers love it.

“And obviously the ex-HMAS Brisbane dive wreck is a Conservation Park so you get all your bigger fish there as well.

“There is a 15-minute trip down the river from our shop, and then a 10 to 15-minute trip to any of the dive sites in our local area. It’s a no-fuss operation.”
Visibility averages between 10-12 metres and the conditions vary from nice calm days to choppy days (sometime we need to cancel the dives due to unsafe weather).

The Mooloolaba dive sites have the advantage of being only a short boat trip from the mainland. The convenience of good accommodation, good restaurants, shopping, great beaches, ease of movement, and various other tourist attractions, means even when bad weather strikes, or when non-diving family members tag along, there is plenty to keep the boredom at bay.

“The beauty of Mooloolaba and the Sunshine Coast is that anyone can get a motel room somewhere and they either Uber two or three minutes to get around or they can walk 10 or 15 minutes – it’s not a long way to get anywhere,” Mike said.

While Scuba World’s target market is learn-to-dive and divers from Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Noosa to Gympie, they do also attract plenty of dive tourists, particularly from the southern states during winter.
“We love it when people learn to dive and it becomes their life or their main hobby, and they join our dive club, and they are able to enjoy the underwater attractions offered off Mooloolaba.”

Scuba World was started by Ian McKinnon in 1979 in Brisbane and for the first 10 years did weekly trips to the Sunshine Coast to dive the reefs off Mooloolaba. At the time it was one of only two dive operators in Brisbane and one of the first seven dive shops in Australia.

When the family moved to the Sunshine Coast, it was the only local operator.

Later the businesses secured a business tenancy at The Wharf in central Mooloolaba, which included a three-metre deep training tank that also doubled as a unique and visible promotional tool. In 1992, they secured the rights to conduct dives with the sharks at the adjacent UnderWater World (now SeaLife).

Ian McKinnon was among the community members who successfully campaigned for the sinking of the decommissioned military vessel, the HMAS Brisbane, as a dive site just off Mooloolaba in 2005. The wreck has become a massive draw card for divers – Scuba World went from having a 7-metre boat doing one or two dive trips per week to a 12-metre boat venturing out often daily or twice daily in good weather.

Scuba World manager Mike McKinnon outside their offices at Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba. Photo: Richard Bruinsma

The business moved to the current Brisbane Road office, beside the Mooloolah River, in 2019. It is today managed by Ian’s son, Mike.


207 Brisbane Rd, Mooloolaba QLD 4557



(07) 5444 8595

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