Snorkeling in Sydney

Snorkeling in Sydney

Sydney Snorkeling Spots
Updated: May 25 2022

A guide to the best spots for a swim & snorkle in Sydney

Sydney’s coastline boasts many spots for good snorkeling. There are protected bays and reserves like the Cabbage Tree Bay and Bronte Coogee Aquatic reserves which are sanctuaries for marine life. While inside the harbour, the Sydney Harbour National Park has its own unique marine life. 

During the Sydney Summer, bathers will be fine. But in Spring, Winter and Autumn months you will need a wetsuit.

Snorkel tours by local operators are an option. You can learn more about Sydney’s marine ecosystem and they will provide full gear hire and transport.

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.

Freshwater Beach

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.

Balmoral 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.

Fairlight Beach

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.


Freshwater Beach
Freshwater NSW 2096, Australia
Fairlight Beach
Fairlight NSW 2094, Australia
Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve
1 Bower Ln, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
Shelly Beach
Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Clovelly Beach

Clovelly is a narrow beach in between rocky ridges which extend out to sea on both sides. Within the ridges the water is calm and ideal for snorkeling. Concrete platforms have been built on these ridges giving people a place to sit and sun back, making the beach feel like a gigantic ocean pool. Clovelly is part of the Bronte Coogee Aquatic Reserve and you will find nestled in between the platforms a diverse range of sea life. Clovelly locals revere the friendly resident giant blue gropers especially the rather large one known as ‘Bluey’. Take note that Blue gropers are the official fish of New South Wales and it is illegal to spear fish them. On the southern end of the beach is the Geoff James 25m ocean pool and the Sea Salt cafe provides post snorkel grub and hot cuppas. There is a large free carpark at Clovelly.

Gordons Bay

Also part of the Bronte-Coogee Aquatic Reserve, Gordons Bay is a small beach and favourite spot for snorkellers and divers. The bay is slightly hidden with protection from ocean swells and the pristine conditions for snorkeling. The Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail is a chain linked course erected by the local scuba diving club. The self guided trail starts and ends at the Northern shore, taking you underwater around the bay to it’s best sights. The rocky outcrops around Gordons Bay offer nice ledges for a spot of sunbaking. Access is via the coastal walk from Coogee or Clovelly where parking is also available.

Bare Island, La Perouse

Originally built to protect Botany Bay from an impending Russian invasion, Bare Island and its surrounding waters is one of Sydney’s premier snorkeling destinations. A causeway connects the small island to the mainland. The area on the Eastern side of the walkway is more exposed to the ocean while the Western side is protected by the island itself. There is a varied sea life with a chance to spot octopuses, moray eels, sea dragons, nudibraches, sponges and even grey nurse sharks. A car park is available at the site.


Clovelly Beach
3-25R Eastbourne Ave, Clovelly NSW 2031, Australia
Bare Island Fort
La Perouse NSW 2019, Australia
Gordons Bay
Major Street, Coogee NSW 2034, Australia
Bronte-Coogee Aquatic Reserve
Clovelly NSW 2031, Australia

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