Seven snorkelling spots in The Shire

We all know the majestic Great Barrier Reef is one of the best snorkel spots in the world. But many are unaware of the array of snorkelling destinations further south from the infamous reef. Below the pristine bays and beaches of the Sutherland Shire is an abundance of sea creatures and coral waiting to be explored. From rocky formations with crashing waves to calm lagoons, the variety of underwater adventures are perfect for first time snorkellers and deep-sea divers alike. Get your masks and flippers at the ready, it’s time to hunt for the most spectacular marine life in the Sutherland Shire.

1. Botany Bay
The foreshores of Botany Bay are the perfect snorkelling destination for those not afraid of a swim. Begin your underwater adventure at Silver Beach where you will meet giant cuttlefish, moray eels, seahorses and if you’re lucky, Port Jackson sharks. Don’t fear, these approachable sharks won’t bite. Keep your eyes peeled for the bright red weedy sea dragons, painted with purple and yellow markings that typically hang amongst the kelp. Continue paddling towards Kamay Botany Bay National Park to immerse yourself in the marine life of the shores of Botany Bay. After a day exploring the waters of Kamay Botany Bay, you will understand why it is crowned one of the best dive and snorkel sites in New South Wales.

2. Inscription Point
The point where Captain Cook notoriously landed has another reason for being well known. Below the surface of the infamous arrival point is a community of sea life waiting to be discovered. Head to Kurnell National Park for the chance to witness octopus, eagle rays and catfish to name a few. Don’t be surprised if the electric blue groupers shadow you as you explore the waters of Inscription Point- they are sociable creatures. If you can tear yourself away from the underworld of Inscription Point, make a day of your expedition by exploring the rich history and magnificent views of Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

3. Oak Park
Oak Park pool is the perfect spot for those getting to grips with their snorkels. Take a dip in the tidal pools to warm up then begin your expedition of the best of Cronulla sea life. Bordered by an arched wall, enter Oak Park from the right and take in the schools of fish that hang around the crevices and overhangs. Be joined by friendly blue groupers, goatfish and Port Jackson sharks in the rocky surrounds of the pools. Once you’ve had your fill of animals from the deep, get back on land and relax at the parkland of Oak Park. Don’t have your own snorkel? Stop by Pro Dive shop in Cronulla to hire the best gear for your day out.

4. Gunyah Beach
The rocky coastline of Gunyah Beach fosters a large community of sea creatures. A quieter snorkel spot, frequented by locals looking to escape the tourists, Gunyah beach is the ideal hidden location for a serene snorkel. Step off the rocky border and submerge yourself in the calm waters of Gunyah, admiring the sea life without any interruptions. Finish your day on land at the sandier beach of Hordens, one of the few dog friendly beaches in Sydney. If the underwater action hasn’t quite tired you out, stay and explore the quaint town of Bundeena.

5. Jibbon Beach
Another snorkellers haven located in Bundeena is the picturesque Jibbon Beach. More popular than Gunyah, the crystal-clear waters are teeming with many species of fish including groupers and cuttlefish. Watch out for the sudden drop in the sea bed where boats and rowers congregate. Observe the beautiful marine life in the flat waters then dry off your mask and continue your exploration of Jibbon Beach by joining the Jibbon headland walking loop. You will want to stay at Jibbon Beach as the sun begins to set, with the sky transforming in colour, mirroring the variety of colours you see underwater.

6. Wattamolla Beach
Deep in the heart of the Royal National Park is Wattamolla, a water lover’s paradise. Here you will find a lagoon, ocean and a trickling waterfall for you to explore the underwater beauty of the Royal National Park. Grab your mask and dip into the tranquil lagoon, with the cascading Wattamolla Waterfalls as your backdrop. Fancy a dive? The rocky headlands of Wattamolla Beach are a well-loved dive spot for those looking to take their underwater adventure to the next level.

7. Salmon Haul Bay
If you are seeking a snorkel spot filled with a variety of creatures, Cronulla’s Salmon Haul Bay is the place for you. The idyllic landscape is brimming with marine life including eeltail, catfish, octopus, grouper and if you’re lucky, sting rays. The southern bay at the end of the Cronulla peninsula is the perfect getaway for all levels of snorkellers so make sure you have this on your list of must visit destinations.

By Rebecca Mason.

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