Freelance writer living in Melbourne. If you enjoy the following article please click on the 'like' button to give me feedback. I am a mum to two very active boys, who is trying to share her passion for nature, art, social justice and a love of life.
Rye is roughly 80km south of Melbourne's CBD and offers a beautiful beach, plenty of cafes and one of the best recreational dive spots for beginners in the bay. Rye is a very popular holiday spot on the Mornington Pennisula and is easily accessible via the Freeway (to get there in under 1.5 hours) or you can meander your way down Nepean Highway, onto the Esplanade (coffee break at Mount Eliza) and then onto Point Nepean Road. The pier is located opposite the corner of Napier Street and Point Nepean Road, Rye. The beaches at Rye are safe for kids, sandy, and ideal for swimming and splashing in the gentle little waves. There is also a playground, boat ramps and picnic areas to expand your day into a full outing.
Either before or after your dive, head west from the pier by foot about 1 km to find White Cliffs. This is a reconstructed old lime burner's kiln. The kilns were used in the mid 1800s, when lime extractions were the town's main source of income. Head up to the lookout for some great views of the bay and see if you can spot the Mornington Peninsula National Park that spans the foreshore. The national park has loads of walking tracks, rocky coast lines, sand dunes and beautiful sandy beaches to explore.
If you are a recreational snorkeler, Rye Pier offers beautiful underwater vistas and some of the warmest water in Port Phillip Bay. The water would not get deeper than about 6m and the array of flora and fauna under the pier is amazing. Try to dive at high tide with calm waters for the best scenery.
Jumping in from the edge of the lower pier, you may find yourself face to face with a relatively shy bottom feeding stingray whose majestic 'wings' will make you think it is 'flying' through the water beneath you. Continue through to under the pier and keep you eyes on the pylons for everything from seahorses, spider crabs and octopus, through to a range of fish species.
The old pylons and the occasional discarded tyre are home to a myriad of marine life that is well worth the look. As with all dives, particularly from piers, make sure you check for fishing lines, boats and use a mark buoy if you plan to stray from under the pier. Under the pier it is predominantly sandy, with small patches of sea grass and once out from under the pier it is pure sand bed as far as the eye can see (underwater).
As you get closer to shore, you will see a trail of photographs attached to the pylons, explaining the various marine life present under the pier. One you have finished, there is a toilet block and a park to relax in. Food for lunch is readily available across the road, as well as dive shops to get anything needed at the last minute.
This is a very popular night diving spot and is easily accessible from the car park (ticket parking during the day, free after 8pm). During a night dive you are likely to see a plethora of squid, some octopus, seahorses and nudibranch.
Rye is a great spot for either a day trip or alternatively turn your visit into a weekend with camping or accommodation at one of the many choices on the Peninsula. Remember, over summer and during long weekends accommodation needs to be booked in advance. Happy diving everyone!