Harvey’s Return Snorkel

by Steve Klein


Harvey’s Return Snorkel

LOCATION Kangaroo Island South Australia

DEPTH 3-5 Meters

WATER TEMP 15-21 Degrees


Access to the beach at Harvey’s Return is along a steep, rocky path, Conditions in the water can also be surgy.



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Harvey’s Return Snorkel

LOCATION Kangaroo Island South Australia

DEPTH 3-5 Meters

WATER TEMP 15-21 Degrees


Access to the beach at Harvey’s Return is along a steep, rocky path, If you get half way down and trealise you left something in the car, you might think twice about going back to get it. Conditions in the water can also be surgy.


Harveys Return

Harvey’s Return

Harvey’s Return is a challenging snorkel on Kangaroo Island where you can see giant blue gropers. The rocky descent to the beach is tough – the only thing worse was walking back up – but it’s worth it. The turquoise water, white sand and black rocks provide a unique setting whether you get in the water or not.

What Can I See?

What Can I See?

  • Blue Groper
  • Harlequin Fish
  • Rainbow Cale

Western blue groper which are found all along the south coast of Australia. We also saw a few rocky reef fish.

Getting There

Getting There

This is not a snorkel you do on a whim. First, you have to be on Kangaroo Island which is off the coast of South Australia. It is one of South Australia’s and Australia’s best locations for a wilderness and wildlife experience and worth putting on your list of places to see.

Once you are on Kangaroo Island, Harvey’s Return is on the Northwest Coast, 1 hour and 40 minutes from Penneshaw where the ferry comes in. Follow Cape Borda Road to the Harvey’s Return Campsite where you can park and follow signs down to the beach.

Snorkel Entry

Where & How do you get in?

Access to this snorkel is from the beach – but getting to the beach is tricky. There is a 1km return walk. Half the walk is on a steep, rocky path down to the sand.

Best Season

Best Season

Blue groper here year-round, but December – March are the best months to get in and see them. The water will be a little warmer and you are likely to get better wind conditions.

Current Australian Sea Temperature


Potential Hazards

As described below, the walk down to the beach and then back up the rocky path is challenging so take your time. Rips can also be present at Harvey’s Return so take care when snorkelling.

Recommended Gear

Good shoes will be needed for the walk to and from the beach.


Costs / Permits

Harvey’s Return is located in the Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area. You will need to purchase a National Park Pass for entry.

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.

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.

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Best Conditions

This is quite an exposed part of the coast. Definitely look to do this snorkel when ocean swell and wind is low.

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 Harvey’s Return




Picnic Tables

Car Parking




About the Snorkel

I won’t lie, this was one tough snorkel. If you are looking for easy snorkels in South Australia, this is not one of them! But when we heard you could see giant blue groper at Harvey’s Return we couldn’t resist. The first part of the walk is okay, you follow a dirt path for 200-300m but then it gets hard. It is about another 200m down to the beach and the path was very steep and rocky. It wasn’t quite a rock scramble, but it was tough enough that we new we were in for a cardio hit when it came time to climb back up.

Once you make it down, the view is spectacular. The narrow rocky bay used to be a supply point for the nearby Cape Borda Lighthouse which is worth a look while you are in the neighbourhood. From the shore the turquoise water and black rocks looked a picture but once we were in the water, visibility was awful and there was much more swell than we noticed from the sand. Despite the conditions, having ventured down, there was no way were not going to look around.

We snorkelled the right hand rocks first and soon spotted a blue groper and some other reef fish, but the groper didn’t hang around. We kicked across the narrow bay to the other headland and spotted 3 or 4 groper swimming slowly between the rocks and seaweed. They were a great sight but the surging, undulating water was hard going. When the last groper vanished into a cave we decided to finish up. Back on shore we looked back at the water and blue skies, it was such a beautiful setting and lovely day it just didn’t add up that the conditions were so tough!

We relaxed for a while on the beach taking in the views but eventually had to clamber our way back to the top of the ‘track’ which was every bit as hard as we feared it would be. If you find yourself on Kangaroo Island and like a snorkelling safari, Harvey’s Return is a great adventure if the conditions are on your side.

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Steve Klein
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