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Snorkelling at Shelly Beach, Manly

Home > Sydney > Escape the City | Day Trips | Beaches | Nature | Outdoor
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I love travelling, discovering hidden gems & food. Experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass. Owner of do check it out for grazing platters and more :)
Published May 28th 2018
This spectacular aquatic reserve is a snorkelling haven
Sydney is home to some of the most spectacular 'city' beaches in the country. One of those beaches is the remarkable Shelly Beach (also known as Shelley Beach), which is part of the stunning Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve and is located next to the Aquatic Reserve. It is an easy 20-minute leisurely stroll from the stunning Manly Beach.

The stunning Shelly Beach.

Shelly Beach is one of the two west-facing ocean beaches on the east coast of Australia and is home to more than 400 species of marine life. Since it was declared a "no take" aquatic reserve in 2002, in lieu of fishing, there has been a massive increase in diversity of marine habitats, making Shelly Beach an absolute magical snorkelling experience!

Being sheltered from the swells and winds snorkelling here can be easily undertaken for all ages, especially for the little ones and beginners. And with the stunning underwater world, including giant cuttlefish, yellowfin bream, stingrays and Port Jackson sharks, it adds a further specialness to the beauty of Shelly Beach.

The amazing Blue Groper fish can be mostly found on the right-side of the beach near the rocks.

It is truly a delight for snorkellers with the tranquil waters, making it easy to spot out Port Jackson Sharks, squids and if you are lucky, the adorable sea turtles. If you venture further out, you will discover another surprise: an old motorbike that rests on the seabed in the middle of the bay in around 8-metres of water!

Gropers love to be petted!

Almost all year round visibility is good making it also perfect for divers to enjoy too. The waters are not too deep, mostly ranging from 2 to 6 metres with a maximum depth of about 12-metres.

A school of fish we discovered.

On the western point of the beach is a surf break known as "Bower" and it offers the shallowest breaking waves in Sydney!

Can you spot the camouflaged fish?

Shelly Beach is a must visit for snorkellers of all levels. The beach is also a perfect child-friendly swimming beach too. Other non-motorised water activities can be enjoyed here too.

Exploring the seabed.

There are free electric barbeques, showers and toilet facilities, a kiosk selling meals, drinks and coffee. There is a restaurant - The Boathouse Shelly Beach, which offers tantalising delights too.

There is a bush track around the headland with breathtaking views of the Northern Beaches and North Head.

Shelly Beach is mostly made up from Kelp & Sea Grass.

Getting here:
You can drive to Shelly Beach as there is a carpark available.

Catch a ferry from Circular Quay (30-min one-way ride) to Manly Beach. From the Wharf, walk towards The Corso till the end (Manly Beach can be seen from here), cross the road and walk right following the pathway. Shelly Beach is a short and easy 10-20-minute walk from Manly Beach.

There are bus stops in front of Manly Wharf. Walk down The Corso to Manly Beach, walk right and follow pathway to Shelly Beach.

There is a carpark located within a short walking distance to the beach with $8 per hour rates. Free parking can also be found outside the carpark, but it can be quite difficult to find a spot as locals mostly take up these spots.
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Why? The best snorkelling beach in Sydney
When: All year round
Where: Cabbage Tree Bay, Marine Pde, Manly
Cost: Free
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