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Hardwicke Bay Reef Snorkel

by Steve Klein

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Hardwicke Bay Reef

LOCATION Hardwicke Bay, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

DEPTH 1-2 Meters

WATER TEMP 18-23 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy

The reef has an easy beach entry and is very shallow.

FEATURE

Stingray

Google Map data © 2024 Imagery © Airbus, CNES / Airbus, Maxar Technologies

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Hardwicke Bay Reef

LOCATION Hardwicke Bay, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

DEPTH 1-2 Meters

WATER TEMP 18-23 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy

The reef has an easy beach entry and is very shallow.

FEATURE

Stingray
Eagle Ray

Hardwicke Bay Reef

One of our favorite snorkelling spots on the Yorke Peninsula is at Hardwicke Bay. The snorkelling area features a horseshoe-shaped reef accessible from the beach. You can also swim over seagrass where eagle rays and fiddler rays are often seen. Visibility is excellent due to the shallow waters, and there are heaps of fish to see. It is a great spot for beginners.

What can I see?

What Can I See?

  • Fiddler Rays
  • Eagle Rays
  • Fish
  • Octopus
Getting There

Getting There

Hardwicke Bay is a small fishing and holiday village on the southwest coast of York Peninsula in South Australia. It is 220km from Adelaide and the only real option for getting there is self-driving.

Snorkel Entry

Where & How do you get in?

If you have a 4wd, you can drive onto the beach at the end of Southshore Road and turn left towards the reef. You can drive right up to a rock platform near the reef and park there – just be aware of which way the tide is going. If you are unsure, park further back.

If you would rather not take your car on the sand, you can park at the end of Southshore Road and walk down the beach for 5-10 minutes.
You can either enter the water outside the reef like we did and swim around into it looking for rays. Or enter the reef directly. You might have to wade out a little to get to water deep enough to swim in if the tide is out.

Best Season

Best Season

We enjoyed the warmer conditions in summer but if you are happy to brave the cold, winter can provide calmer conditions and great visibility.

Current Australian Sea Temperature

Tips

Recommended Gear

Some form of footwear might be a good idea to get over the rocks – thongs or reef shoes.

How Busy / Crowds

We were the only people snorkelling here – nice! It is a very busy fishing spot. You will possibly see the line of tractors on the beach where you drive in that have towed boats to the water. Boats will not be in your way at the reef. It is quite a big area so even if a few other people are snorkelling there is plenty of room.

Parking

With a 4wd you can drive right onto the beach and park near the horseshoe reef.

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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Best Conditions

There are a couple of things to consider at Hardwicke Bay, the first is the wind. It is best to snorkel here when there is a southeast or easterly breeze or light winds.
The other issue is the depth of the water. At low tide the water goes out a long way at Hardwicke Bay. For the best snorkelling aim to be in the water a couple of hours either side of low tide – this will give you a much bigger area to snorkel in.

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 in Hardwicke Bay

The small town of Hardwicke Bay has a Caravan Park, general store and public toilets. Boats can be launched by 4wd or tractor from the beach.

Toilets

Toilets

Picnic-Table

Picnic Tables

Car Parking

Parking

Food-&-Drinks

Food & Drinks

About the Snorkel

There is lots of good jetty snorkels on Yorke Peninsula – Wool Bay, Point Turton and Edithburgh to name a few – but this reef snorkel is one of our favourites on the peninsula. The snorkelling area is a horseshoe shaped reef right off the beach about 350m from where you can access Longbottom Beach by car (4wd).

It was still deep enough for us to decide to begin our snorkel just north of the horseshoe and swim into it. This takes you over an area of seagrass where you can spot eagle rays and fiddler rays. We didn’t see any on our way to the reef but saw lots on our way back in – more on that shortly. We snorkelled our way into the reef area and then followed the horseshoe around. Because the water is so shallow, visibility was excellent and we spotted lots of fish.

As we snorkelled closer to shore the water became too shallow so we made our way across the sand to the other side – a distance of about 150m. There were even more fish along the reef on the southern side of the bay, the water never got more than 1.5m deep so it is a great spot for anyone new to snorkelling.

As we swam from one side of the reef to the other across an area of sand, it was hard to miss the large hollows where rays had been sitting. We hadn’t seen any on our swim into the reef or as we swam around the rocky edge but as we made our way back to shore – going across the sand and towards the sea grass – we saw heaps of them.

First we spotted eagle rays on the sandy bottom. As soon as we got within 10m of them they would rear up and swim away. I think we saw 4 or 5. Then we saw more in the seagrass area too. Maybe they felt less exposed in the grass, but we could get a much better look at both the eagle rays and some fiddler rays. The fiddler rays were especially docile and we had a great time watching them.

We only made it to Hardwicke Bay on the last day of our trip to Yorke Peninsula and were disappointed to just snorkel here the once but it was so much fun we will be back!

Check out our Yorke Peninsula snorkelling guide for more snorkel spots in the area.

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Steve Klein
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