Manly & Shelly Beach
Manly’s Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve is one of Sydney’s best snorkeling locations. The area stretching from Southern end of Manly Beach to Shelly Beach headland is a protected sanctuary with a ‘no take’ policy, meaning that there is no fishing or taking away of any marine specimens even empty shells. Over 160 species live here including cuttlefish, sting rays, dusky whalers and wobbegong sharks. The headland provides shelter from swells and snorkeling conditions are calm within the bay. Its an easy access from Shelly Beach and there are bathrooms, toilets and the Boathouse restaurant / takeaway on the beach. Shelly Beach is also a great destination in itself and lots of families head there to play in it’s calm waters.
Where surfing first started, Freshwater beach is also a great place for snorkeling. At the Northern end of the beach, you can access the snorkeling spot by following the rocks on the side of the ocean pool. The spot gets ocean exposure, so the quality of your experience will depend on conditions for the day. You should only snorkel here when conditions are flat and you are confident swimming the ocean. Freshwater offers opportunities of spotting wobbegong sharks, octopus and schools of bream. There is paid parking, a cafe and toilets just behind the beach.
In the heart of the affluent suburb of Mosman, lies Balmoral beach a popular spot for beach goers and a hive of activity during Summer. With its location within Sydney harbour, Balmoral’s conditions are always tranquil and perfect for snorkeling. Rocky Point island is the outcrop at the Northern end of the beach and there is good snorkeling to be had around its perimeter. This is where you can find cuttlefish, crabs, leatherjacket, octopus and more. Next to the beach, there are lots of shops and amenities, and a park with playground and car park in the southern end.
The beach at Fairlight runs shallow quite a fair way out before a dropping abruptly. This wall which runs along the beach attracts various schools of fish and other marine life. There is a rock pool, toilets and change facilities on shore.