While the Great Barrier Reef offers some of the most stunning snorkeling opportunities in Australia (as well as the world in general), there’s still plenty of marine life to discover in Sydney. Famous for its numerous beautiful beaches, what’s less spoken about is the numerous snorkeling sites in the city.
All snorkeling spots in Sydney are accessible from the beach, free, and not too far off the beaten track. It’s a prime snorkeling destination for locals and travellers, beginners and pro snorkelers combined! Here are the best places to go snorkelling in Sydney’s beautiful beaches.
Fish in Sydney:
Amberjacks, Australian Bass, Bass Gropers, Black Breams, Blue Gropers, Bonitos, Carp, Cuttlefish, Dolphin Fish, Eastern Reef Scorpionfish, Eels, Flathead, Golden Perch, Hairtails, Leatherjackets, Mangrove Jacks, Marlins, Octopus, Sailfish, Wobbegongs, and more.
Best places to snorkel in Sydney
Where: La Perouse Details: One of Sydney’s calmest snorkeling sites, Bare Island is a popular snorkeling and diving destination that’s just off the coast of La Perouse. Most of the snorkeling here happens around a huge fortress where there are plenty of rock platforms and marine life to discover. There’ll be puffer fish, sponge crabs, seahorses, red Indian fish, and more, all amongst beds of seagrass and other soft coral life.
Bare Island was featured in the film Mission Impossible II. How’s that for a famous snorkelling spot?
Bathrooms and drinking water available on-site.
Where: Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park Details: This beautiful spot is immersed in nature, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. A popular beach camping and water sports site, The Basin is an estuary filled with seagrass beds, rocks, sand, mud flats, and a wonderful opportunity to swim with Cuttlefish, Stingarees, Sea Stars, Leather Jackets, Rays, and even tropical fish in the warmer months!
Snorkeling is accessed from The Basin campground,
You can rent snorkeling equipment from EcoTreasures, a snorkeling tour company in The Basin campground.
Bathrooms, showers, BBQs, and drinking water available on-site.
Cabbage Tree Bay
Where: South Manly Beach to north Shelly Beach Details: This aquatic reserve is where you’ll find some of Sydney’s healthiest sea life and best snorkeling. There’s an abundance of diversity in the marine life here with over 400 species of sea life to explore. Protected from swells and winds, Cabbage Tree Bay is one of Sydney’s calmest snorkeling spots, making it a great place for beginners and kids. You’ll be swimming amongst goatfish, old wives, blue groupers, wobbegongs, flounder, stingrays, and more.
In cooler weather you’ll find whaler sharks hanging around the fairy bower – worth it for those swims in the cooler months! Shelly Beach is Sydney’s only west-facing beach, making it a prime spot for watching the sunset after a long day snorkeling.
Bathrooms, picnic, and BBQ areas available.
Where: Clovelly Details: One of Sydney’s most popular snorkel spots, this is a great place for beginner snorkelers as well as families to head out and have a splash. There is a calm enclosed pool where you can enjoy sea life on most days, but the real snorkeling action happens on the other side, in the ocean. You’ll get to enjoy varied underwater topography, lots of sponges and giant cuttlefish, as well as the resident blue groupers.
The concreted pool makes this spot great for families and beginners who want easy entry into the ocean (there are steps to enter and exit).
More confident swimmers should head out further from shore, snorkeling around the edge towards Gordons Bay where there is an abundance of marine life to explore.
Bathrooms, showers, and food available on-site.
Where: Coogee Details: Just on the other side of Clovelly Beach is this small hidden wonder, a calm beach where you can snorkel with catfish, combers, horse fish, pufferfish, and more. Enclosed by giant cliffs and boulders this beach is peaceful and picturesque, and one of Sydney’s best snorkel sites.
There is a self-guided Underwater Natural Trail offering information about local marine life,
You can walk to and from this beach via a coastal walk from Clovelly or Coogee Beach,
There are no facilities at this beach.
Where: Botany Bay National Park Details: This is where Captain Cook first landed in Australia, and there’s an abundance of marine and sea life to discover where it all happened. This rocky peninsula is one of Sydney’s quieter and more scenic beaches, and you don’t have to go very far to be swimming with giant cuttlefish, moray eels, Port Jackson sharks, and colourful weedy sea dragons (seahorse relatives).
The north side of the beach has a tidal pool with shallow waters great for kids.
Bathrooms, showers, and food available on-site.
Where: La Perouse Details: Perfect for families, small children, and newbie snorkelers who don’t want to go too far from the city to see the good stuff, Little Bay is one of Sydney’s cleanest and most picturesque beaches. Less visited than some other popular Sydney spots, Little Bay is protected by two rocky headlands which provide shallow, calm waters for exploring marine life. The sea life is not so abundant and varied as elsewhere, but there are still colourful sea urchins and small fish to be discovered here.
Bathrooms, picnic areas, and BBQs available on-site.
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