The reefs that hug the West Australian coast are iconic for their vibrant corals and sea creatures. The weekends that boil the pavement and turn seat belts into branding irons, send people to the water in droves.
We have a love affair with our beaches, and with the days warming up, we've got our beach gear ready. If you're like me, when you think snorkelling, you think Rottnest. With its aqua water and rocky outcrops, it is stunning, but also, unfortunately, unattainable for a lot of families, with the steep ferry prices.
However, as much as we adore Rotto, there are some places closer to home that will also deliver with teeming sea life and crystal clear waters. Read on to discover where to find the best coral reefs, submerged just off our beaches.
Mettams Pool - rocky above water, vibrant reefs below
You may have already heard of Mettams Pool, a tucked away little beach where the reef encircles a sheltered pool that allows younger kids and families to enjoy in safety. As with most reef areas, the pool is relatively wave free, especially so in the morning. Situated on West Coast Highway, in North Beach, it's right next to the popular Trigg swimming beach, and close to cafes, shops and other amenities.
To the South of Perth is Point Perón. It's a little more isolated, so don't forget to pack and take your food and water, however the diversity of the sandstone reef stretches out, and is worth the drive. As well as sandier stretches, there is dense reef and caves to explore. The area is less child friendly, which makes bad news for some, but welcome news for others.
North of Perth is the Trigg to Hillarys stretch, and if you are looking to make a day of it you can do a beach hop down the West Coast Highway. This entire stretch is spotted with reef. Look out for the stretch of beach opposite Marmion Angling Club. According to some there are caves ripe for exploring there.
Some of the most popular places are around Hillarys, in particular Boyinaboat Reef. This reef lies just out from the Hilary's groin. Because it doesn't come up to the beach, it's recommended for confident swimmers only, however it is easily accessible and features a stunning range of sea life. The second reason it is so popular is because it is so close to Hillary's Boat Harbour, which, as I'm sure you already know, is a shopping and dining hub. If you have a boat, then Little Island and The Lumps are both great snorkelling spots, and (because they're only accessible by boat) will be virtually void of other swimmers.
Whatever spot you choose, it's generally best to go in the morning or early afternoon when the water will be smoothest and best for snorkelling. Some of these areas are sanctuaries, but others are open for fishing so bear that in mind when you go. Otherwise, slip, slop, slap... you know the drill.
We have the opportunity to live right alongside some amazing underwater creatures, and it's a truly rewarding experience to be able to visit them in their home. It goes without saying that we want our kids and grandkids to have the same experience, so whether we're signing petitions to save the Great Barrier Reef, or just taking our rubbish with us when we leave, we can preserve these places for the future.
Mettams Pool North Beach is the best for beginners. Have been to the reefs off Hillary's Boat Harbour called "boy-in-a-boat", has "sign posts" placed under the water.
Don't do it now, got an emails from a shark saying he was out there waiting for me!