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Best snorkelling in South Australia

South Australia isn’t the first place that comes to if you like to slip on your mask and fins for a snorkel. But take a closer look. South Australia has a diverse range of snorkelling spots, that include swimming with schools of giant cuttlefish to exploring crystal clear sinkholes.

We have split the state into regions and look at the best snorkel spots each has to offer. For most of the snorkel spots we have linked to detailed Snorkel Spot Guides that have more information on each site.

Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Snorkel Spots Website.

Stony Point Cuttlefish

Adelaide

The greater Adelaide coastline offers both some fun traditional reef snorkelling and a few surprises including a great site to see Port Jackson Sharks and swim in a unique mangrove environment.

View of Noarlunga Reef at Low Tide

Port Noarlunga Reef

Suitable for beginners through to experienced snorkellers and divers, Noarlunga Reef is Adelaide’s go to snorkel spot. Easily accessible from the Noarlunga Jetty, the 1.5km long reef runs parallel to the coastline.

At low tide, the inner reef is protected from waves and swell so is a great place to explore. Right under the jetty you will see big schools of old wives and sweep and maybe a passing ray or giant spider crab.

As you make your way along the limestone reef wall, look for a variety of fish including magpie perch, a range of colourful leatherjackets, zebra fish, moonlighters, dusky morwongs and scaly fins. You might also see Port Jackson sharks and big blue throated wrasse.

With plenty of facilities and parking nearby this is a great place for snorkellers to visit. New snorkellers can swim close to shore and still see a few fish.

Port Jackson Shark

Christies Beach

Christies Beach is a bit of a hidden gem for snorkellers. It has a couple of fun snorkelling areas, one perfect for beginner snorkellers, the other for more confident swimmers.

Swim with Port Jackson Sharks

In November and December, the rock ledges at the far southern end of Christies Beach are home to breeding Port Jackson sharks. You can see them in as little as 1m of water!  In other months, you can still spot fish and maybe an eagle ray.

Horseshoe Reef

If you are happy swimming 300m offshore you can get to Horseshoe Reef which is directly out from Christies Sailing Club and Surf Life Saving Club. Head out at low tide and there is a crescent shaped reef that is home to a range of fish, we saw a small wobbegong and look for rays in the sandy bottom.

Aldinga Reef

Aldinga Reef Snorkel

This is a fun place to explore whether you look around the intertidal rock pools or go for a snorkel in the sub tidal zone. A couple of paths take you from the carpark down the cliff to the reef. As well as reef fish you’ll also spot rays at this spectacular snorkelling location.

We have had snorkels here when it has felt like an aquarium. There are big schools of silver drummer, horseshoe leatherjackets, long nose boarfish, and SA regulars like magpie perch, old wives, morwongs and moonlighters. It is a fun spot, just watch your footing getting to the sub tidal area.

Port Gawler Wharf

Port Gawler Mangroves

This fascinating environment is about 45 minutes north of Adelaide. At the end of Port Gawler Road, you come to a small pontoon where you can slide into the water and explore a mangrove forest from the water. You don’t only get a unique perspective of the mangroves, but the shallow channel is also a breeding ground for fish so there is lots to see.

Fleurieu Peninsula

Rapid Bay South Australia

Rapid Bay Jetty

The end of the old Rapid Bay jetty is South Australia’s premier diving and snorkelling spot. From the entry point on the new jetty, you have a 200m swim to the end of the old jetty and along the way you’ll spot schools of fish under the old structure.

The pylons at the end of the old jetty are covered in colourful soft corals and sponges and are home to a huge amount of life. Between the pylons you’ll see schools of anything from moonlighters and oldwives to kingfish.

Leafy Sea Dragon

Second Valley Reef

Home to leafy sea dragons, the weed lined rocks around the bays in Second Valley are a fun place to look around. In calm conditions you can also check out the caves just south of the jetty.

Confident swimmers can swim out the 300-400m to Lasseter’s Reef which is straight out from Second Valley Beach. We spotted lots of blue devils last time we were there.

Kangaroo Island

Although best known for its land based wildlife and Australian sea lion colony, there is also some great snorkelling to be had on Kangaroo Island. The more protected north coast has the best options. Check out:

Swim with Dolphins

Emu Bay Snorkel

Drive onto the beach and snorkel over sea grass and broken reef. Keep an eye out for the resident dolphins. You can also book a snorkel with dolphins tour.

Harveys Return

Harvey’s Return

The steep 750m walk to the beach is hard work so pick your day to make sure conditions are good. Great place to see Western blue groper and a stunning spot.

Yorke Peninsula

Surrounded by water, Yorke Peninsula has lots of great snorkel spots. Check out our full Snork the Yorke guide for more great sites and the best time to do them. Here are some of our favourites…

Edithburg Jetty Pylons

Edithburgh Jetty

This is a popular site for scuba divers, and it is also a good snorkelling spot. We enjoyed our snorkel here when we went at low tide. There is lots of colourful life on the pylons and plenty of fish. You’ll see even more if you can free dive 5 – 8m to the bottom. There is easy access to the water from the jetty.

Fiddler Ray

Chinaman’s Hat Island

Located in Innes National Park, Chinaman’s Hat Island is about 140m off the beach. The reef and rock ledges between the beach and island have everything from rock lobsters and Port Jackson sharks to rays and fish. If the conditions are right, it is a fun place to look around.

Eagle Ray

Hardwicke Bay Snorkel

Hardwicke Bay is a hidden gem of a snorkelling spot. Better known for the tractors that line up on the beach which are used to launch fishing boats, drive on the beach past these to a horseshoe shaped reef.

The shallow clear water is full of fish and keep an out for the eagle rays buried in the sand in the middle of the horseshoe. We also spotted several fiddler rays in the grass beds just outside reef.

Point Turton

Point Turton Jetty

There is easy access to this jetty which has lots of life on the pylons, colourful soft corals and plenty of fish under the jetty too. It is a popular fishing spot, but the lines aren’t a problem beneath the jetty.

You might also spot a stingray in the sand near the pontoon if there are people cleaning their fish there. Great snorkel for beginners.

Southeast

Dotted with craters, caves and sinkholes, the southeast of South Australia has some magical snorkel spots with some of the best visibility you can get in water – we’re talking over 50m! Each of these snorkels are within 25 minutes of Mount Gambier, the biggest town in southeast South Australia

Ewens Ponds

Ewens Ponds

You need to book a time to snorkel here. You will also a need a 7mm wetsuit, boots, hood and gloves because the water temperature is a steady 14 degrees. But don’t be put off, this is a breathtaking drift snorkel through three ponds connected by a narrow channel.

The water is crystal clear, you feel like you are swimming through a lush garden. At the end of the snorkel, you leave the water and walk back along a grass path to the car park. If you like snorkelling, put Ewens Ponds on your bucket list.

Kilsby Sinkhole

Kilsby Sinkhole

Kilsby Sinkhole is on private land, so you need to book a tour to snorkel here. It is quite a different experience to Ewens and Piccaninnie Ponds. You walk down to the water. Swimming here is the nearest thing snorkellers can get to cave diving, the circular walls of the sinkhole rise above you, below you is 60m of clear water.

Not only is it a great sensation swimming around the sinkhole, especially if it’s a sunny day and beams of light stream into the water, but you also learn how the navy has used Kilsby as a deep water test site.

Eyre Peninsula

Remote and rugged, Eyre Peninsula is home to some of South Australia’s most unique snorkelling experiences. The three wildlife encounters here couldn’t be more different.

Stony Point Cuttlefish

Whyalla Cuttlefish

If you are prepared to brave the chilly winter water at Stony Point near Whyalla, you can snorkel amongst the largest congregation of giant cuttlefish in Australia. It is not a deep snorkel; you can see the cuttlefish in just a metre or two of water.

The cuttlefish start to arrive in late May and can be see through June and July. Their ability to shape and colour shift is something to behold. If the cold water puts you off, there are also glass bottom boat tours of the aggregation.

Australian Sea Lion

Snorkel with Sea Lions at Baird Bay

Located near Streaky Bay, the Baird Bay sea lions are known for being curious and playful. If you want an interactive snorkelling experience, then it does not get any better than coming mask to nose with an inquisitive sea lion. You need to go on a guided tour to the site but it worth doing if you are near this remote South Australian town.

Great White Shark Snorkel

This is an interactive snorkel of quite a different kind. You can come as close as you’d ever want to get to a great white shark from the safety of a very strong cage.

This is a snorkel for adrenaline junkies or anyone who can appreciate the awe inspiring size and power of these apex predators, tours leave from Port Lincoln and some include a sea lion swim too (well away from the sharks).

Exploring Rock Pools

Smooth Pool Snorkel

For a more traditional snorkel on Eyre Peninsula, head to the protected Smooth Pool. It is best known as a spot to see Western blue gropers but there are a variety of other fish and marine life to see too. It is a safe place to snorkel and swim if you are worried about the toothy predators mentioned above.

Steve Klein
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