Located on the southern tip of Botany Bay, Kurnell snorkeling spot allows the exploration of a unique underwater world, covered by seaweed and seagrass of a magnificent nature. While this environment is well known for hosting seahorses and seadragons (they are nevertheless difficult to spot while snorkeling), Kurnell have even more surprises to offer! While swimming along the shore, you may come across colorful wrasse, octopuses huddled among the rocks and, sometimes, even a stingray lurking on the sand.

Snorkeling with a stingray in Kurnell
The Australian common stingray (Trygonoptera testacea) is sometimes spotted at Kurnell.

How to get to Kurnell snorkeling spot?

Kurnell is a small suburb in Sydney, on the southern tip of Botany Bay. From Central Sydney, you can reach Kurnell by car (a route of around 22km) or by public transportation (take a train to Cronulla, then the bus 987-Cronulla to Kurnell “Loop Service” to Kurnell beach). Once you’re in Kurnell, walk towards north along the beach until you arrive at James Cook landing place, located in Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

Kurnell snorkeling map, Sydney

Water entrance for snorkeling Kurnell

There are several possibilities to enter the water, both on the south and on the north side of the pier (see the map). A few patches of sand between the rocks allow you to dive into the water without stepping on the rocks.

Kurnell snorkeling exploration

The snorkelling area encompasses the rocky shoreline which stretches on either side of the monument and the pier. From the shore, the seabed gently slopes down, allowing you to observe the underwater life at low depth.

Australian stripey in Kurnell
The stripey (Microcanthus strigatus) is one of the most common fish you can spot when snorkeling Kurnell.

The seafloor alternates rocks, sandy areas and a wide diversity of seaweed (↕0.5-3m). In Kurnell, in particular, you will find beautiful stretches of Neptune’s necklace (Hormosira banksii), paddle weed (Halophila ovalis), patches of kelp, as well as beautiful, almost fluorescent, blue branching seaweed (Fauchea laciniata). If you pay attention, you shall discover here and there urchins, sponges, limpets and other small shellfish attached to the rocks. These areas are also suitable for observing octopuses, whose fishing is banned on this part of the shoreline.

Octopus in Kurnell
Have a look in rocky holes and cracks: you may spot an octopus here, as they are protected in the area.

Kurnell is a spot well known for hosting sea horses and the legendary weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), but finding them is a real challenge, especially in shallower areas. In exchange, in this spot, you will easily observe stripey, mado, senator wrasse (Pictilabrus laticlavius) and snakeskin wrasse (Eupetrichthys angustipes). Where the rocks make room for stretches of sand (↕2-3m), you might also come across an Australian stingray resting peacefully on the seabed.

Restaurants in Kurnell

On the edge of the park there are several cafés and restaurants, especially along Captain Cook Drive. The closest (Endeavour Coffee and Ice Cream and Kurnell 1770 Bakery and Café) are located 300m by foot from Captain Cook monument.




 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Protected areaKamay Botany Bay National Park - Kurnell area
  • Maximum depth3m
  • Water entranceTricky, from a rocky-sandy shore
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, some 300m from the monument

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.