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Oyster Stacks Snorkel

by Caitlin Grace

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Oyster Stacks Snorkel

LOCATION Cape Range National Park, Exmouth, Western Australia

DEPTH 1-3 Meters

WATER TEMP 22-28 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy – Medium

The most difficult thing is access as you need to enter from a rocky ledge along the water’s edge.

FEATURE

Turtle

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Oyster Stacks Snorkel

LOCATION Cape Range National Park, Exmouth, Western Australia

DEPTH 1-3 Meters

WATER TEMP 20-27 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy – Medium

The most difficult thing is access as you need to enter from a rocky ledge along the water’s edge.

FEATURE

Turtle
Oyster Stacks

Oyster Stacks Snorkel

One of the most popular snorkel spots on Ningaloo Reef, Oyster Stacks feature 5 oyster encrusted structures and coral bommies that are home to a rich array of marine life. The shallow water here is great for beginners and experienced snorkellers can out further to the edge of the outer reef. You can only snorkel here if the tide is more than 1.2m, but the abundant marine life makes this a rewarding snorkel.

What can I see?

What Can I See?

  • Coral Gardens
  • Turtles
  • Reef Sharks
  • Stingrays
  • Clown Fish
  • Reef Fish
  • Octopus
  • Cuttlefish
  • Eels
Getting There

Getting There

Oyster Stacks is a snorkel site located in Cape Range National Park, out of the nearby township of Exmouth. Oyster Stacks requires you to have your own vehicle and an active National Parks Pass. The road is majority bitumen however a short unsealed 2WD friendly track leads to the carpark.

Snorkel Entry

Where & How do you get in?

Oyster Stacks is a shallow site directly off of the coast within a protected lagoon. One of the trickiest parts of the snorkel is getting in and out of the water over an old reef. If the water is calm you are ok to slide in but getting out is tricky if there are a few waves. There are a couple of small sandy patches at the shoreline left of the main entry point which are easiest to get in and out of the water from.

Best Season

Best Season

Oyster Stacks can be snorkelled all year around.

Autumn is typically warm water and warm daytime temperatures great for boating a swimming. Be aware of stingers this time of year and be fully covered. Winter will see a greater chance of swiming with Mantarays.

During summer temperatures average around 37 degrees so it is likely to be very hot from November – February. Temperatures are much more pleasant during the winter months of May – September with an average temperature of 24 degrees.

  • Turtles all year round but nesting from November to March
  • Whale Sharks – March – August
  • Manta Rays all year round but very active from April to November
  • Humpback Whales – June – October
  • Turtle Hatching – January – March

Current Australian Sea Temperature

Tips

Potential Hazards

  • Tide dependant – A high tide of at least 1.2 m is required
  • Rocky entry with sharp rocks

Recommended Gear

  • Reef Shoes

How Busy / Crowds

  • Oyster Stacks is a popular spot especially during holiday periods and peak season March-September, expect to share the snorkel site and shoreline with others.

Parking

  • There is a carpark at Oyster Stacks but it will fill up quickly during holiday periods and on fine, calm days. It is not unusual to have to park down the access road and walk to the reef – another reason to have some kind of footwear.
Costs

Costs / Permits

  • Entry permit required for Cape Range National Park
  • $17 per standard vehicle

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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Ningaloo Reef Tours

Best Conditions

Oyster Stacks is shallow lagoon site, and is highly tide dependant. Snorkelling is only permitted on a high tide which is 1.2m or more. Tide charts and information can be accessed online or at the visitor information centre. The risk of snorkelling on a low tide is cutting yourself on the coral, and damaging the corals. Oyster Stacks is best snorkelled on a day of low wind and swell (10 knots or less) and is best snorkelled after a period of calm weather as this will improve the visibility.

Milyering Discovery Centre  can provide advice around tide heights and times.

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 Oyster Stacks

The carpark has signposted information about the site and its history.

Car Parking

Parking

About the Snorkel

Oyster Stacks is one of the most popular snorkels on the Ningaloo Lagoon. If conditions are good this is always a busy spot. We have been here 3 times and still haven’t managed to get a park in the main car park, it has been a short walk down the dirt road for us each time!

It is easy to see why Oyster Stacks is so popular. It is close to shore, it is sheltered by the outer reef, it is shallow with depth around 1m – 3m and there is heaps to see.

The only downside to the place is getting in and out over the old rocky reef. You will need to sit on the rocks and drop into the water. That is the easier part. Getting out can be trickier. We find it best to leave the water left of the main stairs where there is a small patch of sand you can swim onto to exit.

Oyster Stacks is named after 5 formations that stick out of the water encrusted with oysters. The surrounding area is a dense garden of corals and reef fish. Corals are primarily hard corals including staghorn, boulder and plate corals. Because the reef here is so shallow, snorkelling is only allowed when the tide is 1.2m or more.

Many species of reef fish can reliably be sighted here including parrotfish, convict tang, damselfish and pufferfish. In addition, many species can be seen sheltering in or under the corals including eels, stingrays and octopus however you will need a keen eye to spot them. You might also see harmless reef sharks such as white tips and black tips cruising past.

If you want a turtle sighting, they can be seen here too but not in the same umbers as you might get at Osprey Bay. That said, we have seen them here on each of our swims at Oyster Stacks.

The coral gardens extend to the left and right of the stacks as well as out to the main reef break, so there is plenty of room for swimmers to spread out and explore if there is a crowd.

On our last swim here, we ventured right out to the outer reef break. Certainly not as many people out there, you see lots of fish and the depth doesn’t really get any greater. Just watch the waves as you get to the outer reef.

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Caitlin Grace
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