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Port Noarlunga Reef Snorkel

by Steve Klein

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Port Noarlunga Reef Snorkel

LOCATION Port Noarlunga, Adelaide, South Australia

DEPTH 5-8 Meters

WATER TEMP 18 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy -Medium

Inside the reef is shallow & protected but if you go through the gap you can get more surges & current

FEATURE

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Port Noarlunga Reef Snorkel

LOCATION Port Noarlunga, Adelaide, South Australia

DEPTH 5-8 Meters

WATER TEMP 18 Degrees

DIFFICULTY Easy to Medium

The snorkel inside the reef is shallow and protected but if you go through the gap you can get more surges and current

FEATURE

Port Noarlunga Reef

Port Noarlunga Reef

The 1.5km long reef runs parallel to the shore. Although it is around 300m offshore, it can be easily reached by walking to the end of Port Noarlunga Jetty that extends right out to the reef. This is one of Adelaide’s most popular snorkel spots. Even if you don’t get far from the steps at the end of the jetty, you will see schools of fish and maybe rays and squid.

What Can I See?

What Can I See?

  • There are 200 species of marine plants and animals on Noarlunga Reef including 50 species of fish.
  • Fish you will see close to the jetty include sea sweep, magpie perch, moonlighters and oldwives. Under the jetty the fish are quite game and will come right up to your face mask. We have seen an enormous spider crab under the jetty too.
  • You might also see bigger things like Port Jackson sharks and wobbegongs, rays and the occasional dolphin could also cruise by.
Getting There

Getting There

Port Noarlunga Reef is 35-40 minutes south of Adelaide. From Adelaide, the easiest way to get there is along the Southern Express Way. Take the exit onto Beach road then continue to Murray Road towards the coast.

There is a large carpark adjacent to Noarlunga Jetty. The carpark can be busy in summer. More parking is available on roads along the foreshore. Parking around Port Noarlunga is free.

Snorkel Entry

Where & How do you Get In?

One of the best things about the Noarlunga Reef is the ease of access. The 300m long Noarlunga Jetty extends right out to the reef and at the end of the jetty there is a platform and stairs that give you easy access to the water. From the end of the jetty, you are 10 meters from the reef.

The other option for snorkelling at Noarlunga is to get kitted up on the beach and swim out to the reef. While you will spot schools of fish under the jetty, you need to avoid a lot of fishing lines. Using the stairs at the end of the jetty is the better option.

Best Season

Best Season

For much of the year, water temperatures around Adelaide struggles to get above 20 degrees. In summer the water temperature is in the low 20s so you might want to wear some kind of wetsuit year round.

In winter the water temperature can be as low as 14 degrees.

Current Australian Sea Temperature

Tips

Hazards

The Port Noarlunga Reef snorkel is suitable for beginner to intermediate snorkellers. You can snorkel from the beach and still see fish and other marine life although in smaller numbers than you do on the reef. You also need to be careful of fishing lines.

The snorkel on the reef itself is suitable for people with intermediate snorkelling experience. It is too deep to stand up. Getting up on top of the reef for a rest is possible but awkward with fins on. You might also have to contend with small waves and currents, so some swimming ability is required.

How Busy/Crowds

There might be a bit of a crowd at the platform where you get into the water. You will find divers using this area too. But once you are in the water and away from the Noarlunga Jetty there is plenty of room to get some water to yourself.

Recommended Gear

Because of the cool water you might want a wetsuit to help stay in the water longer. If you want to attempt to get up onto the reef you might want to have some reef shoes inside your fins. Even if you have average visibility, it is worth having a camera for the big schools of fish under the jetty – you can swim right through them.

Features

Look out for the Port Noarlunga Reef Underwater Trail. To be honest it is a bit tricky to see if you are snorkelling. The first 7 markers are inside the reef to the south. Marker 8 is at the gap to the outer reef and the rest of the trail is along the outer reef heading back to the jetty.

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

The more the reef is exposed, the more sheltered the inner reef is so snorkelling around low tide is the way to go. If you snorkel 30 minutes either side of low tide, there will be fewer currents. If you want to snorkel on the deeper outer reef, choose a day when there is light winds and a low swell otherwise you will find yourself being pushed into the wall of the reef.

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 Port Noarlunga

Toilets

Toilets

Shower

Showers

Picnic-Table

Picnic Tables

BBQ

BBQ’s

Food-&-Drinks

Foot & Drinks

Lifeguard

Life Guards

Flippers

Gear Hire

Shade

Shade

About the Snorkel

Port Noarlunga is one of our favourite places to snorkel near Adelaide. One of the best things about the snorkel is that the long jetty takes you to within metres of the reef. We also love it here because you never know what you might see.

If you are a less experienced or less confident snorkeller, it is still worth going to the end of the jetty and making use of the excellent set of stairs to have a look under the jetty. There are always big schools of fish – silver drummer, old wives and curious little sweeps – and because the end of the jetty is in the sanctuary zone you don’t have to worry about fishing lines.

If the conditions are good, we usually start with a swim south along the reef to the gap or submerged anchor. Then we head back, go past the jetty and explore the northern end of the reef.

We have spotted all sorts of things on Noarlunga Reef. Dusky morwongs, silver drummers and sweep are common. Lookout for horseshoe, yellow striped and brown striped leatherjackets. Old wives, moonlighters and scaly fins are also easy to find.

We have also seen a huge spider crab right under the jetty, a big flathead on the norther reef and a cute bright green Southern pygmy leatherjacket. There are also some big blue throated wrasse lurking in the gaps between rocks. Yellow and velvet sea stars decorate the rocks.

Over many snorkels here we have encountered a range of conditions at Noarlunga. We recently snorkelled here in mid-May after a run of still, fine days and had 10m+ visibility which is about the best we have seen it at Noarlunga.

Low tide is the time to go. The northern half maybe has a few more shallow features than the southern end and is probably the direction I would recommend for new snorkellers. Just be aware, if there is a current you might be swimming against it returning to the jetty from the north. This is less of a problem if you snorkel at the change of tide.

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