Cod Hole is one of the best known dive sites in the world and is located on Ribbon Reef #10, at the top end of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, north of Cooktown. Named after the groups of huge – but friendly – potato cod (Epinephelus tukula) that live there, Cod Hole should be on any serious diver’s list of must-see sites.

Click to open an interactive map of the Great Barrier Reef, showing the location of Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reefs. NOTE: WHEN THE MAP OPENS IN A NEW WINDOW, YOU WILL NEED TO CLICK ON THE MAP AND DRAG DOWN TO FIND COD HOLE AND THE RIBBON REEFS AT THE FAR NORTH OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF.

This string of pristine Ribbon Reef offers a variety of excellent dive opportunities. Coral pinnacles and drop offs attract large pelagic fish and a wide variety of marine life, and visitors to this unique region will find superb scuba diving at Cod Hole all year round.

Liveaboard dive trips to the Ribbon Reefs and Cod Hole
depart from Cairns several times a week.

The potato cod at Cod Hole weigh up to thirty kilograms, and scuba divers can still watch them being hand fed on every trip. These giants have been fed by divers since internationally recognised underwater photographers Ron and Valerie Taylor publicised the site thirty years ago. Today though, due to concerns about their health, the feeding is handled only by the dive masters on the trip.

Potato Cod and Maori Wrasse at Cod Hole have become accustomed to scuba divers, and will approach quite closely, providing an excellent photo opportunity. Underwater cameras are generally available for hire on any boats traveling to Cod Hole, but passengers who plan in advance will save money – and get a better quality camera – if you rent a digital underwater camera in Cairns before you embark.

Due to the distance from the popular embarkation points of Cairns and Port Douglas, live aboard dive trips to Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reefs are usually four or five days, and offer anywhere from 10 to 14 dives. Getting to Cod Hole from Cairns usually involves an overnight boat trip, but it is possible to fly one way or the other, transferring at either Cooktown or Lizard Island. Some companies offer a low level scenic flight at either the beginning or end of your Cod Hole live aboard as a standard inclusion.

Diving at Cod Hole is rated as intermediate and mostly at a depth of 10 to 22 metres. Besides the potato cod, divers will likely see Maori wrasse, red bass, emperor and a plethora of other marine life including anemones, white tip reef sharks, giant clams and feather stars.

Its remote location makes for excellent dive conditions, since the area around Cod Hole and the Ribbon Reefs is out of the reach of the many day boats that leave from Cairns and Port Douglas, and is therefore much less heavily visited. The reefs are not disturbed by human presence, and also visibility is said to be consistently better than areas of the Great Barrier Reef that are closer to cities and farmlands.