While Australia brings the Great Barrier Reefs first and foremost to the minds of snorkeling enthusiasts, there are many other parts of the island continent that are also worth exploring. Sydney, built on wide bays, shelters some amazing underwater wonders. Not far from the city, its rocky coves and meadows of algae hide blue gropers, seahorses, sharks, rays, and pretty colorful fish.
With no coral reefs, the waters around Sydney are home to unique and exciting ecosystems. Rock scree and drop-offs, seagrass beds, meadows of algae or kelp forests are some of the underwater environments that can be easily explored from the shore.
Snorkeling is generally practiced in small sheltered rocky bays which are found all along the coast. Close to Manly, opt for the excellent Shelly Beach, part of the Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve. Fairlight Beach or Little Manly Cove, more sheltered spots, are also other interesting options to check out.
In the Eastern Suburbs, several coves follow one after the other in the south of Bondi. The Clovelly Pool, perfectly protected from waves and currents, is ideal for snorkeling, including on days when the ocean is rough.
A few hundred meters away, Gordons Bay in Cogee – where an underwater trail has been set – also offers some superb explorations.
Further south, the Congwong Beach-Bare Island site is one of the most famous in the region. Also located in Botany Bay, although on its southern shore, Kurnell is a must if you want to try to see seahorses or seadragons.
Many remarkable marine species are found along the shores of Sydney. The Eastern blue groper is perhaps the most symbolic: this massive fish, whose males display a bright blue robe, is the New South Wales fish emblem.
In some spots, snorkelers encounter curious and fearless individuals who do not hesitate to come and “inspect” the snorkelers. When snorkeling along the coast, you will also have a good chance of encountering a Port Jackson shark, a wobbegong, or a stingray, even at shallow depths.
For snorkelers, the weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) remains difficult to find, but its observation is possible in specific spots (like Kurnell).
The region of Sydney has a sunny climate with hot summers and relatively mild winters. Snorkeling is practiced mainly in the summer, from December to February, when daytime temperatures are around 77°F/25°C, and water temperatures that exceed 68°F/20°C.
During the off-season (from March to May, and from September to November), the water is refreshing and wearing a wetsuit is essential. In winter, from June to August, temperatures drop and only the courageous (with a full suit) will dive in the water at 15°C.
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Common in Shelly Beach, Clovelly Beach and Gordon Bay.
Frequent on all spots.
Abundant in rocky areas.
On all spots. Mostly found around seagrass.
Marine reserve with sand, rocks and seagrass, and a great variety of fish
Free shore access
Secluded bay protected by a marine reserve
Rocky and grassy seabed with fish and stingrays
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