Some great snorkeling spots to discover a specific environment and emblematic species

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.

Blue groper at Shelly Beach - Snorkeling in Sydney
Shelly Beach, in Manly, offers good opportunities to swim with blue gropers, one of the region’s most iconic fish.

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.

Snorkeling in Kurnell
South of the international airport, Kurnell‘s rocky and weedy seabeds (right, Neptune’s necklace seagrass, Hormosira banksii) are nice exploration fields.

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.

Australian common stingray
An Australian common stingray noted at shallow depth in Kurnell.

For snorkelers, the weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) remains difficult to find, but its observation is possible in specific spots (like Kurnell).

When to go snorkeling in Sydney region

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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