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Chinamans Hat Sanctuary Zone

by Natalie Klein

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Chinaman’s Hat Sanctuary Zone Snorkel

LOCATION Dhilba Guuranda-IInnes National Park, Yorke Peninsula South Australia

DEPTH 2-8 Meters

WATER TEMP 17-22 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Medium

This snorkel can experience currents, is in open water and the water can be cold.

FEATURE

Stingray

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Chinaman’s Hat Sanctuary Zone Snorkel

LOCATION Dhilba Guuranda-IInnes National Park, Yorke Peninsula South Australia

DEPTH 2-8 Meters

WATER TEMP 17-22 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Medium

This snorkel can experience currents, is in open water and the water can be cold.

FEATURE

Stingray
Chinamans Hat

Chinaman’s Hat Sanctuary Zone Snorkel

Located in Innes National Park on the tip of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, Chinaman’s Hat Sanctuary is an advanced snorkel. You might spot wobbegongs, rock lobsters and Port Jackson sharks in the sea grass and hiding in the rock ledges. You will need to pick the right day for the best conditions.

What can I see?

What Can I See?

  • Fiddler Rays
  • Eagle Rays
  • Dolphins
  • Fish
  • Rock Lobster
  • Port Jackson Sharks
  • Blue Devils
  • Nudibranchs
Getting There

Getting There

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is at the southern tip of Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. It is 290km from Adelaide, the easiest way to get there is self driving. You require a national park pass to enter Innes National Park.
From the National Park Visitor Centre follow the main road through the park for approximately 3.5km past Stenhouse Bay and look for the signs to the Chinamans Hat Carpark on your right.

Snorkel Entry

Where & How do you get in?

There is a short walk from a carpark then you enter from the beach. Keep an eye on the currents as you get in so you can plan your snorkel.

Tips

Potential Hazards

  • Currents
  • Cold Water

Recommended Gear

  • Even in summer you might want a wetsuit to be comfortable in the water

How Busy / Crowds

  • We were the only ones there!

Parking

  • A carparking area is available off the main road
Costs

Costs / Permits

A $13 vehicle entry fee applies to all vehicles entering Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park.

The information for each snorkel spot is provided by people who have snorkelled there. However, snorkelling conditions change daily. Please be aware that wind, swell, tides and cloud cover can all affect visibility and your experience in the water.

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Tours

Experience Marine Sanctuaries provide guided tours of Chinamans Hat. There is a cost which includes wetsuits, facemask and snorkel and fins. You also get an experienced guide showing you around the sanctuary zone. If conditions are unfavourable, they will find a more sheltered spot to go for a snorkel.

You would want to have some swimming ability to do this guided tour.

Best Conditions

At low tide, a line of reef either side of the island provides some protection from ocean swells. Best wind conditions are generally light winds or northerlies. There is also a bit pf protection from a westerly breeze. If the wind is from the south, forget it.

Windy Map Instructions – Click on the wind icon in the top right to see other conditions such as swell, temperature, rain. To clear the four day forecast click and close the wind icon.

Facilities at Chinaman’s Hat

There are no facilities here. The nearest toilets are at Stenhouse Bay a couple of kilometres away.

Car Parking

Parking

About the Snorkel

We were really keen to do this snorkel but this was one of those times when the wind did us no favours. We were on Yorke Peninsula for a week and the wind blew from the wrong direction for this snorkel for pretty much the whole of our stay.

However, we were determined to give it a go so on the day with the lightest winds we drove there to have a look. It was such a pretty spot, and in the absence of breaking waves, we decided to give it a try.

It is a short walk from the carpark to the beach which includes a small flight of steps. They are no problem if you are snorkelling but it would be a bit of a hike with your scuba gear.

Down at the beach it was pretty clear there was a current running from left to right across the island. The low tide was providing some protection from the swell which was a bonus. We headed in aiming left and drifted through the reserve on the current. Not long into the snorkel we spotted a big shovel nose ray in the sea grass and spotted an eagle ray in the distance. But, unfortunately, that was the extent of the marine life for us.

We spotted a few reef fish but had no luck seeing rock lobsters or much else. We saw some likely looking rock ledges where we thought something interesting might live but it wasn’t showing itself to us for our snorkel. Between the current, the small swell and the afternoon sun, visibility was also pretty average which didn’t help our experience either.

So…we were glad we got in and had a look a round, the two rays we saw (in the first 5 minutes of the snorkel!) were certainly the highlight but this is one spot we will have to come back to on a better day. It certainly has a lot of potential, we’ll just have to wait for better conditions. If you get down to Chinaman’s Hat on a good day, we would love to here from you!

If conditions here are poor, try the Point Turton Jetty or have a look at our Yorke Peninsula Snorkelling Guide.

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Natalie Klein
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