Grab your snorkel and prepare to get wet! Whether you're getting up close and personal with the gropers in Clovelly's sheltered bay – or checking out the marine reserve at Shelley Beach in Manly, you'll find great snorkelling all over Sydney.
Snorkelling in Sydney
Sydney's famous for its beautiful waterways and marine life, and armed with a snorkel, a mask and a good pair of flippers, you can check out a huge range of fish, coral and more around the harbour city's many snorkeling spots.
Just around the corner from Manly's crowded tourist beaches, and close to North Head and Fairy Bower, you'll find pretty Shelley Beach and Cabbage Tree Bay; a protected marine reserve and a safe, easy spot for first-time divers to take the plunge scuba schools operate out of here for that very reason. It's known for good visibility and great marine life; there's also an old submerged motorbike wreck to check out in the middle of the bay.
Flanked by tall rocky headlands and sheltered by a breakwater, Clovelly Beach's natural rock pool has a reputation among Sydneysiders as the best snorkeling spot in town. This tranquil inlet is a bit like a giant aquarium and a good spot to check out toadfish, scalyfin, kelpfish, starfish, sponges and if you're lucky, the odd Port Jackson shark. Clovelly is most famous for its protected Gropers keep an eye out for friendly Bluey, who's the resident groper in the bay.
Other great snorkeling areas in Sydney include Gordons Bay, also in Clovelly. Just south of Clovelly Beach and north of Coogee, the Bay is protected by an off-shore reef and with its crystal clear waters, it's considered an ideal site for beginners and families. Expect to spot everything from starfish and anemones to gropers, spotted goatfish, cuttlefish and baby sharks.
Don't forget to check out nearby Coogee; on calm days there can be great snorkeling around the rock pool at the north end of the beach. Little Bay in Port Botany is home to large and colourful anemones and black urchins, and Shiprock Road in Port Hacking is worth visiting at high tide, when the currents make snorkeling safer. Congwong Beach in La Perouse is another great spot to check out Sydney's underwater world, as is nearby Bare Island, accessed via a footbridge. Sea-horses, weedy sea dragons, moray eels, velvet fish and giant cuttlefish have all been spotted around here.
Swimming safety information
NSW has a wide range of wonderful swimming options including beaches, ocean pools, harbourside pools, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes at the bottom of waterfalls. However to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, swimmers should follow this general advice:
Look for patrolled beaches (this is where lifesavers are on duty; you will see red and yellow flags that indicate this). You should always swim between the red and yellow flags as they mark the safest place to swim.
Never swim alone at night, or under the influence of alcohol, or directly after a meal.
Always check water depth before diving in, as rocks or trees could be submerged, and never run and dive into the water from the beach.
Check for signs regarding advice on water conditions at your chosen swimming spot and at any natural swimming hole. Always proceed with caution as surfaces could be slippery and water conditions may not be immediately apparent; particularly if the area has recently experienced heavy rain or flooding.
Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Visit SharkSmart to understand any potential risks in the area you are swimming.
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