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As part of my idea for taking the train from Sydney to Brisbane, and stopping on the way, I'm thinking of stopping off in one of Coffs Harbour or Byron Bay. I'd probably pause for a couple of days, and ideally I'd like to do 2-4 dives (probably a two tank dive, one or two days running)

I've read that both places have good diving, but what I'm not sure on is how do they compare? Does it tend to be cheaper in one than the other? Is there a wider choice of dive sites at one? Do you tend to visit a wider choice of sites at one (important if I'm to do two days of diving)? Is one more affected by weather / tides? Does one have a better variety of fish to see? How about sharks? (The kind you swim with, rather than the kind that eat you!) How do the typical times from dive shop to dive site compare?

In case it affects things, I'm a (advanced) qualified diver, but I won't have much kit with me (as alas my luggage allowance flying in is quite low...)

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I don't know about Coffs but in Byron you have to expect to pay about A$50-60 for one dive plus maybe around A$30 if you need to hire dive gear. The most popular diving spot in Byron is Julian Rocks but there's also a few other interesting ones.
The water is usually pretty calm inside the bay and dolphins and sharks are there regularly, depending on the time you visit also whales. I've never done a dive in Coffs Harbour but apart from diving I would definitely say Byron is the nicer town of the two.

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It completely depends on what type of dive site are you after? Ship Wreck = Byron, Trench or gutter dives, Byron again. However if you after a good all round experience then Coffs would be the choice.

In terms of price there will be little difference I'm afraid.

In comparing the two sites there is not that much of a difference. If you were going in winter I would have suggested Byron just for the water temp. In terms of different types of fish and things to see both a varied, but your more likely to see turtles in Coffs.

Here are two good sites to help with your comparison
http://www.byronbaydivecentre.com.au/dive-sites/
http://www.jettydive.com.au/local-diving/local.asp

I don't know what time of year you are going but for me Byron wins out.

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Disagree on the price. Byron bay is a tourist trap and get's much more backpackers and travellers, and everything i bought there (accommodation, food, tours) was way more expensive than in Coffs Harbor. –  iHaveacomputer Dec 8 '11 at 3:40
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Actually I think both Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay are tourist traps but Byron is much more successful at being one (-; Byron also attracts more wealthy people in my experience which could result in higher prices on some things but I have no idea about diving prices specifically. –  hippietrail Dec 8 '11 at 13:38
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