aerial view of busselton jetty western australia

Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory Honest Review 2024

The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory provides visitors with a glimpse of the marine life inhabiting the waters of Geographe Bay. The observatory descends 8 metres below the surface of the water, providing an up-close view of the fish, coral, and other sea creatures that call the bay home.

Opened in 2003, it is one of only six natural aquariums globally and is now a popular tourist attraction in Busselton, Western Australia.

As locals, we visit Busselton a couple of times a year – find out what we think of the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory.

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marine life from the busselton jetty underwater observatory viewing window
Marine life as seen from the bottom observation windows

Location of Busselton Jetty

Busselton is in the South West region of Western Australia, less than a two and a half-hour drive from Perth.

Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory Review

Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory can only be accessed via a tour which operates every hour on the hour and lasts about one hour and forty-five minutes (the guided tour itself is around 40 minutes). Tours depart from the interpretive Centre, the blue building near the start of the jetty.

the blue busselton jetty interpretive centre building
The blue Busselton Jetty Interpretive Centre

The tour price includes a return ticket for the train, which saves you from walking the 1.7 km. It’s also a fun way to travel, and the kids love it.

the red train you to the busselton jetty underwater observatory
Tickets include a return train ride

A tour guide will meet you off the train and take you into the observatory building, where they will provide you with a short briefing before starting the descent. Six flights of stairs (60 in total) take you 8m below sea level, but a lift is available if required.

view of the underneath of the wooden busselton jetty from the underwater observatory
View of Busselton Jetty from as you start to descend into the underwater observatory

At each level, the tour guide stops to explain what you can see through the observatory windows – tropical corals, sponges, fish, crabs, and you might even be able to spot a seal or two. There are over 300 different marine species that may be sighted.

view of a seal from busselton underwater observatory
A seal we saw on the second level of Busselton Underwater Observatory

The eleven viewing windows in the 9.5m diameter observation chamber are large enough to see the marine life in their natural habitat.

As numbers are limited to 44 on each tour, you always get access to the windows (there is plenty of allocated time at the end to return to the windows above if you missed something previously).

coral and fish seen from busselton jetty underwater observation window
Fish and coral seen from Busselton Observatory windows

Once the tour has finished, you can spend longer at the end of the pier before your return train journey.

distance markers at the end of busselton jetty

Translation sheets for tours are available in the following languages – Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Korean and Polish.

The New Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory

It was announced at the end of 2020 that the new Australian Underwater Discovery Centre (AUDC) would replace the existing underwater observatory. The semi-submerged whale-shaped building would have a higher capacity than the current one, with larger viewing windows offering panoramic views of the jetty’s ecosystem. The hope is to add underwater dining, underwater sculptures, and marine art, enhancing Busselton Jetty’s 155-year-old experience.

Unfortunately, due to construction costs rising dramatically, the project is uncertain. The initial forecast of A$32m has blown out to A$49m, making the BJI Board and senior staff investigate all options to see if the project can go ahead.

coral attached to the busselton jetty pilons

Thoughts on the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory

So is the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory worth the price? I believe it is. Initially, we did put off going; we thought it was quite a lot to pay for a family. However, you get a great experience for the price, and it is nice to support a piece of history.

I like that it’s a not-for-profit organisation, so the money goes into the upkeep of the jetty. It is also eco-friendly with the solar run train, and no marine animals are kept in captivity.

It’s an excellent chance for a non-diver to see what it’s like to be 8m under the ocean surface.

Find out what else there is to do on Busselton Jetty, along with interesting information and history in this travel guide to Busselton Jetty.

outdoor swimming pool in a resort

Busselton Accommodation

Busselton has plenty of accommodation options for all types of travellers, including holiday parks, camping, luxury stays, self-contained and budget.

For our choices of the best accommodation in Busselton, including places we have stayed, click below.

Busselton Tours

Viator have a great range of tours that are competitively priced and offer free cancellation on most experiences.

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