Rye Pier

Pier Dive Pier Dive | Shore access Shore access

Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Night Dive Site Open Water Rated Reef Dive Site Scallops Dive Site

Depth: 1 metre (3.28 feet) to 6 metres (20 feet)

Rye Pier is the Easiest Place to See Seahorses in the World!
Scuba Dive or Take the Octopuses Garden Snorkelling Trail

Rye Pier
Rye Pier | © The Scuba Doctor

Level: Open Water and beyond.

What To Expect:
Rye Pier is an excellent day and night dive site with a maximum depth of around 6 metres. This is the place to go if you want to look at Seahorses.

Rye Pier is an L-shaped pier approximately 500 metres long. It was built in about 1860 to service the lime trade. Points north-north-east so not diveable in strong northerly winds. A long walk to the lower landing located 50 metres from the end of the pier. Much better at night as more things come out then.

Rye Pier | Credit: David Bryant, Seapics

Big Belly Seahorse, Rye Pier
Big Belly Seahorse, Rye Pier
© Sam Glenn Smith

The pylons are encrusted with marine growth so make sure to stop and have a good look around these. Also, take your time to have a look inside the tyres, as there are usually plenty of small critters hiding in there, often including some cleaner shrimp willing to give you a manicure. There are parts of Rye Pier that must be nurseries as during certain times there are many baby critters here.

Rye Pier is full of life and different every dive. It's the easiest place to view Seahorses in the world with both the Bigbelly Seahorse (aka Pot Belly Seahorse) and Shorthead Seahorse species in residence.

You will see large Smooth Stingrays fairly often and you can see crowds gather on the pier to watch them swim around. There is usually heaps of people fishing, so stay under the pier where the interesting marine life is.

Diver with Octopus, Rye Pier
Diver with Octopus, Rye Pier
© Sam Glenn Smith

Rye Pier also features a large population of Octopus with the Southern Blue-ringed Octopus, Southern Keeled Octopus, Maori Octopus, and Southern Sand Octopus species all often sighted.

Rye Pier is also known for Giant Spider Crabs. Each year from late May through mid-June thousands of Giant Spider Crabs migrate along the ocean floor to shallow waters. When the water temperature drops, things heat up as the giant spider crabs moult their shells. As they crowd together for protection from predators like stingrays, seals and sharks, they sometimes begin to pile up in stacks over a metre high.

Giant Australian Cuttlefish, Rye Pier
Giant Australian Cuttlefish, Rye Pier
© Sam Glenn Smith

You can find Australian Fur Seals now and again, coming in from the seal colony at Chinamans Hat. Critters to be found include Magpie Perch, Bluethroat Wrasse, Bastard Trumpeter, Senator Wrasse, Ornate Cowfish, Sea Sweep, Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Sixspine Leatherjacket, Scalyfin, Bluespotted Goatfish, Southern Calamari Squid, Southern Bobtail Squid (aka Southern Dumpling Squid), Southern Bottletail Squid in their dozens, Nudibranchs, Common Stargazers, schools of Longfin Pike (aka Yellowfin Pike) during summer, Decorator Crabs, Puffer Fish and Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

Watch out for fishing lines and carry a dive knife, or a dedicated line cutter, just in case. It's advised to stay under the pier between the pylons to avoid the fishing lines.

Some people like to head out 200 to 400 metres from under Rye Pier to grab a feed of Scallops. You can't collect scallops in waters less than 2 metres deep (the intertidal zone) in Port Phillip, and generally, the scallops are out in water 10 to 20 metres deep.

Scallop Dive Site
Scallop Dive Site | © Phil Watdon

Divers have the opportunity to catch a feed of Scallops (Pecten fumatus) at this dive site. Remember your catch bag and current Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence. Please abide by all current fishing regulations, such as the bag limit of 100 scallops each, if you intend to catch scallops. See Melbourne Scallop Dives for a list of other scallop dive sites near Melbourne.

Safety Tip: We recommend you read our Boat Diving Safety and Using a Dive Float and Flag pages and use the described Cray/Drift Buoy Line Diver Freedom System when drift diving from a private boat for scallops.

Octopuses Garden Snorkelling Trail

Octopuses Garden Snorkelling Trail, Rye Pier | Credit: David Bryant, Seapics

There is a 200-metre-long snorkelling trail of underwater photographs known as the Octopuses Garden Marine Trail attached to the pier pylons, explaining the various marine life present. It is a self-guided trail where you can expect to see schooling fish, pylons saturated with colour and life, seahorses, crabs, rays and even the odd penguin.

Signs mounted on the pylons indicate special features of the area and the marine animals to look out for. Seven underwater signs on the left-hand side take you out, while seven on the right-hand side bring you back to the shore.

Some of the underwater signs are now missing or very faded. However, it still makes for a great snorkelling adventure. Depending on the tide the depth varies from half a metre to three metres on the trail.

Elsa's Reef

Elsa's Reef, Rye Pier | Credit: David Bryant, Seapics

Elsa's Reef
Elsa's Reef | © Phil Watson

There is also Elsa's Reef, a small artificial reef about 60 metres north from the end of Rye Pier in 6 to 7 metres of water. There is a sign and pickets leading to Elsa's Reef from the middle of the arm of the pier at the end that runs east. There is usually a large octopus hiding in the box and juvenile fish around. Nice for something different! Be careful when venturing from the pier as boats and jet skis are quite often above. Make sure you take a dive flag or SMB with you if you head that way.

Diving Rye Pier

Rye Pier Dive Site Map
Rye Pier Dive Site Map | © The Scuba Doctor
Yellowfin Pike, Rye Pier
Yellowfin Pike, Rye Pier | © Phil Watson

Location: Rye
MELWAY Ref: Page 168 F4

Ideal Conditions:
Southerly winds and high tide. Not diveable in strong northerly winds. Though the high tide is ideal, you are able to dive Rye Pier on any tide.

See WillyWeather (Rye Pier) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.

Weather Required: The following winds will be okay: northerly <15 knots, westerly <15 knots, southerly <15 knots, easterly <25 knots. Not current prone. Better at high tide to get more depth.

Entry/Exit: Entry can either be from the lower landing near the end of Rye Pier or straight off the beach. Straight off the beach means crossing a large sandbank. When entering or exiting via the beach it's better to use the east side of the pier where there is a pathway with handrails to help you make your way between the beach and the car park.

Shore East Entry, Rye Pier
Shore East Entry, Rye Pier
© The Scuba Doctor Australia
Shore West Entry, Rye Pier
Shore West Entry, Rye Pier
© The Scuba Doctor Australia

Be sure to take out a dive flag if you're planning to venture out from under the pier as there is often boat traffic. Over the summer holidays be very careful of PWC's (jet skis) as they come in very close to the pier and very quickly (despite rules and regulations). Boats often come in and out to the lower landing. Be careful when entering and surfacing!

You can exit from the lower landing, but often a shore exit is nice as there is plenty to be seen south of the lower landing. It's usually where we find many of the very cute seahorses.

Parking: Lots of foods options here, plus a toilet block, and in winter plenty of car parks.

Rye Pier Car Park
Rye Pier Car Park | © The Scuba Doctor

Other: Public berthing is available at Rye Pier for a maximum of 48 hours (vessels to be attended at all times), Other restrictions are detailed on Parks Victoria signage.

The popular Rye Boat Ramp is nearby. The Rye Beach area is a terrific playground for children and calm waters and wide beaches make it great for families to enjoy. Opposite Rye Pier is Rye shopping strip with many eateries, the Rye Hotel and boutique shops.

Rye Pier is also close to The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop. So please drop in and catch up with us for air fills before and/or after your dive.

More information...

Rye Pier Shipwrecks

Rye Pier Wrecks
Rye Pier Wrecks, © The Scuba Doctor

Eivion: The wreck of the Eivion lies to the east of Rye Pier, in about 2 metres of water. It can be spotted from up on the pier (about halfway) as a dark patch. It is often home to many nudibranchs and rays. You can find shrimp and a variety of small fish. Something nice to change things up or to head to on a second dive.

There are also two dark patches on the eastern side of Rye Pier clearly visible on Google Earth. Both sites lie on a clear sandy seabed with a maximum depth of 3 metres. Both sites are accessible via the shore or the pier as well as by boat. Both sites are heavily overgrown with weed, making it difficult to distinguish features.

The patch closest to the west side of Rye Pier is at
Latitude: 38° 22.010′ S   (38.3668332° S / 38° 22′ 0.6″ S)
Longitude: 144° 49.293′ E   (144.82155° E / 144° 49′ 17.58″ E)
146 m, bearing 237°, WSW
This appears to be a mound of basalt rocks (not dressed) and is typical of a ballast mound from a ship.

Barbara: The second patch, further to the west, is the shipwreck remains of the wooden schooner Barbara. The remains consist of some frames and planking and a small pile of green rounded ballast stones. From the size and shape of the frames.

Caution: Care needs to be taken if you plan to visit the sites of these shipwrecks, especially those west of Rye Pier, offshore from the Rye Boat Ramp. These are high traffic boating areas. For your own safety, you must use a surface dive float and dive flag.

The sand in this part of Port Phillip is highly mobile and there may be more of the wreck underneath the seabed.

Historical accounts of shipwrecks at Rye inform us that four wrecks have occurred in the vicinity of Rye Pier.

  • Barbara: schooner, built at Exeter River Tamar, Tasmania, 1841, 39.3’ x 10.8’ x 5.5’ (feet), 16 tons. Owned by Capt. G. W. Cole. Totally wrecked at White Cliffs (Rye), 6 August, 1852.
  • Opossum, cutter, carvel built, Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, 1827, 36.2’ x 10.8’ x 6.4’ (feet), 19 tons. Totally wrecked White Cliffs ca 1853.
  • Adieu: ketch, built at Gravelly Beach, Tasmania, 1877, 38.9’ x 13.8’ x 5.5’ (feet), 15 tons, owned by David Inverarity, totally wrecked below Rye, 3 September, 1882.
  • Eivion: ketch, built Williamstown, 1886, 27 tons, 65.8’ x 16.2’ x 4.2’ (feet), previously owned by Benjamin Stenniken. Totally wrecked in the vicinity of Rye Pier 4–5 December, 1921.

Warning: Any shipwreck or shipwreck relic that is 75 years or older is protected by legislation. Other items of maritime heritage 75 years or older are also protected by legislation. Activities such as digging for bottles, coins or other artefacts that involve the disturbance of archaeological sites may be in breach of the legislation, and penalties may apply. The legislation requires the mandatory reporting to Heritage Victoria as soon as practicable of any archaeological site that is identified. See Maritime heritage. Anyone with information about looting or stolen artefacts should call Heritage Victoria on (03) 7022 6390, or send an email to heritage.victoria@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Spearfishing is illegal within 30 metres of any pier or jetty and in Marine National Parks. See Spearfishing Laws.

Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country
Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Bunjil the Creator Spirit of this beautiful land, who travels as an eagle, and Waarn, who protects the waterways and travels as a crow, and thank them for continuing to watch over this Country today and beyond.


Rye Pier Location Map

Latitude: 38° 21.968′ S   (38.366125° S / 38° 21′ 58.05″ S)
Longitude: 144° 49.378′ E   (144.822961° E / 144° 49′ 22.66″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map | Get directions
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-07-25 06:49:57 GMT
Source: Google Earth
Nearest Neighbour: Eivion, 114 m, bearing 154°, SSE
Depth: 1 to 6 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

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