Best Places for Scuba Diving and Snorkelling in New South Wales, Australia

Enjoy family time or an ocean adventure as you explore breathtaking NSW beaches with a snorkelling or scuba diving experience this summer.

scuba diving sydney

Explore gorgeous NSW beaches, with a snorkelling or scuba diving experience, perfect for the adventurous this summer.


Swim amongst ocean life at locations including Shelly Beach, Chowder Bay, Gordons Bay, Wollongong and Port Stephens.


Whether you’re after a family snorkelling experience or dreaming of a close encounter with ocean life, NSW’s beaches and reef areas won’t disappoint. 

Families can try snorkelling, as it is easier than scuba diving which requires training and a license.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Manly

Spend the day exploring Sydney's Northern Beaches, with perfect snorkelling conditions at Shelly Beach near Manly. Shelly Beach and Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve are popular Manly snorkelling and scuba diving spots, with plenty of  marine life to see under the water.


If you’re with the family bring your own snorkel gear for a relaxed fun day out at your own pace, or participate in a snorkel experience run by local professionals. Take in the unique ocean life, with over plenty of marine species in the area to explore.


Ocean life common to the area includes giant cuttlefish, yellowfin bream, stingrays, blue gropers, and Port Jackson sharks. Keep your eyes out for a sunken motorbike resting on the ocean seabed.


Shelly Beach is great for swimmers of all levels due to its water depth ranging from 2-6 meters and the deepest area being 12 meters deep. Due to Shelly Beach’s sheltered shores, the beach doesn’t experience large swells, making it the ideal site for beginner snorkelers.


If you’re after a close encounter with larger ocean creatures, sign up for a scuba diving experience. Keep in mind that this is suitable for children with strong swimming skills, and the ability to swim with an oxygen tank is required. In order to participate in a scuba diving experience, you must undergo training to obtain a scuba diving licence.


Generally, scuba diving courses run for 2-3 days and require you to be of 12 years and above, as well as completing diving skills and buoyancy training, in order to obtain an internationally recognised diving licence certification.


Make a day of your trip with many local restaurants and cafes close by, as well as beach facilities including barbeques for a seaside picnic.


Complete your visit to Manly with a stay at Manly Pacific hotel or The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach. Enjoy the sound of the ocean with views to match, as you rest after a busy day of exploration. 


With services  like housekeeping and room service, leave the chores at home and enjoy the most of your beachside escape. Drop in at Bistro Manly for ocean views and classic bistro dining before heading across the road to catch some surf at Manly Beach.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling at Clovelly Beach and Gordons Bay

Explore the underwater world  of the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, with a snorkelling experience at  Clovelly Bay. Due to spilling breakwaters, the ocean pool of Clovelly creates a large area of water to relax and explore. As a result, the area is home to a large number of aquatic life such as the Silver Sweep, Wrasse and Damselfish. The reef is approximately 5-7 metres in depth so is perfect for families and first-time snorkelers.


Due to the popularity of Clovelly Beach and its depth, the council restricts scuba divers during the day. Even if you are an experienced  diver, you are still guaranteed a reef-like experience as you snorkel Clovelly’s waters.


Complete your day with a stroll  along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk before heading  back to  your Sydney accommodation for the night.


Gordons Bay located just next to Clovelly Beach is one of the eastern suburbs' best-hidden snorkel areas. Only accessible by foot, pack a day bag and walk along the coastal path before arriving at the turquoise waters. Home to a reef teeming  with marine life, you can expect to see sharks, groupers, leather jackets, stingrays, and wrasse.


Whilst Gordon’s Bay is protected by calm waters, it has a depth of approximately 10 meters. Depending on the tides, you may find you need to enter off the surrounding rocks, making this a little challenging for families with younger children and non-confident swimmers. It is important to note that this beach is not patrolled,  if you do want that extra beach safety Clovelly Beach may be more suitable.


Unlike Clovelly Beach, Gordons Bay welcomes scuba divers with a local club and diving operators using the area. To scuba dive in this area, you need to complete a 2-day course  to gain a free dive licence. Operators provide equipment as part of the package price, so unlike snorkelling, you don’t have to rely on your scuba and dive gear. Don’t forget to pack an underwater camera to capture your favourite reef encounters.


Head back to Sydney to enjoy  a range of Sydney accommodation options  to unwind after a busy day in the water. With many options in the city centre and the eastern suburbs including Pullman, Sofitel, Mantra, Novotel, and Mercure, find your perfect stay whether you’re travelling as a couple or with the family. With onsite facilities such as restaurants, gyms, pools, and spas, truly relax as you enjoy your Sydney escape.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling at Chowder Bay

Explore Chowder Bay, just a short drive northeast of Sydney’s CBD. Home to one of the best macro shore dives in Sydney, the 9-metre-deep reef area is full of highly visible marine life.


It is important to note that fishing is common in this area, with minimum beach patrol. More suited to experienced divers and swimmers, it is common to see seahorses, cuttlefish, crabs, leatherjackets, pipefish, small octopus, yellowtail, old wives, bream and goatfish. Explore the shipwrecks on the seabed filled with ocean life, as you  dive to the deepest point.


Due to the area’s surroundings and depths, Chowder Bay is suited for advanced divers over families. This is a great spot to dive if you hold a current scuba diving license, otherwise, it is a common area where operators conduct training and tours.


Choose to stay in the Northern Beaches of Sydney or the CBD for your perfect Sydney escape. Accor offers apartment-style stays such as Manly Pacific, or  hotels including family favourite Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour.


Enjoy perks like room service and housekeeping, as well as onsite restaurants, pools, and spas for the ultimate holiday experience. Whether you’re with the family or travelling as a couple, there are rooms or apartments to suit every need and budget. 

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling NSW North Coast

Port Stephens

Try a feet-first dive or experience snorkelling along Port Stephens and the Newcastle areas with guided tours and self-exploration areas for those after more freedom.


If you’re an experienced diver, strong swimmer or adrenaline chaser, deep dive at Broughton Island. With depths of 18 metres, see what lives on the seabed and in between the coral life. Look out for species such as eastern blue devil fish, cuttlefish, silvery numbfish, grey nurses as well as many other species that inhabit the area.


If you don’t hold a diving licence, many operators offer 2-day courses with provided equipment. After obtaining the scuba diving qualification you can participate in deep water and free diving.


Nelson Bay

If you’re with the family, snorkel in Nelson Bay at your own pace or alongside a guided tour. Explore Fly Point, extending 500 metres offshore as a protected aquatic sanctuary. Keep your eyes open for marine life and bright coral, with lush sponge gardens protecting the resident fish.


Take out the go-pro and catch some photos of the pineapple fish, blue groupers, octopus, wobbegong sharks and elusive seahorses. During the summer months, it is not uncommon to see tropical fish  including butterfly fish, damsel fish, wrasse and butterfly cod.


Ready to kick back and relax after a busy day exploring ocean life? With hotels and apartments in Newcastle and Nelsons Bay including Mercure, Ibis, Novotel, and Mantra, there are options to suit every budget.


Whether you’re travelling with the family or visiting as a couple, enjoy spacious accommodation to suit your needs. Indulge in onsite restaurants and make use of facilities such as pools and gyms for the ultimate Port Stevens escape.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling on the South Coast


Explore the amazing underwater world of the South Coast, near Wollongong with snorkelling and scuba diving tours to enjoy with family and friends.


If you’re with the family, enjoy a day of beach fun and exploration at Bass Point. Enjoy the close-to-shore reef with clear water perfect for exploring local marine life.


Due to the area's calm waters, this is a great location for kids and those who may not have strong swimming skills. If you’re not joining a tour, this is a great  place to bring your own snorkel equipment for the ideal  family beach day.

Aerial view of Novotel Wollongong Northbeach on the coast

Bass Point

If you’re seeking a more thrilling diving experience, check out deep diving at Bass Point. The area is known to be a great diving spot if you want to get up and close to larger fish. Keep your eye out for sting rays and sea dragons that are known to swim in the area's waters.


If you’re interested in scuba diving, there are many operators that use the area. Courses run for 2-3 days before you are awarded a scuba diving licence. These tours include equipment hire as well as basic training.


Whether you’re snorkelling or scuba diving, look out for hidden shipwrecks and underwater cliffs filled with sea life.


Whilst a calm area to explore, Bass Point has diving depths of 20 metres for those who wish to explore the ocean seabed. Make sure to bring an underwater camera to capture the tropical fish, coral life and unique animals, such as starfish in the area.



Another great snorkelling location on the South Coast  is the Kiama harbour area. With breathtaking reefs to explore, the Shellharbour area is great for snorkellers and beginner scuba divers. 


Get up close to Pomfret, nannygai, trevally, blue groper, comb fish, wobbegong, ray eels, rays and yellowtail species. Whilst there is great ocean life along the shallows to explore, for the best experience, explore the 20-30 metre depth of ocean life with a scuba diving experience. Whether you are an experienced diver or just starting, the dive site is suitable for most levels.


Complete your seaside adventure with a stay at Novotel Wollongong Beach or Mantra Wollongong. Enjoy a spacious stay with accommodation suitable for families and couples. With facilities such as onsite restaurants and pools make the most of your South Coast escape.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling at Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island offers an underwater paradise. Teeming with diverse and colourful marine life, as well as pristine water perfect for underwater exploration, it is a great location for families and experienced divers.


With lagoon-like waters, the location is perfect for kids and those who wish to stay near the shore's edge. The Island is home to 500 species of fish and 90 species of coral that have been protected since 1998.


If you are an experienced diver or want to try scuba diving with a guided course, many operators use the area and offer equipment upon booking. This is a perfect location for those wanting a unique day trip to explore and find adventure.

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