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Top 5 Snorkelling Spots in NSW

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by Tim Falk (subscribe)
A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published January 19th 2015
Life is better under the sea
In the immortal words of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid,

"Under the sea

Under the sea

Darling it's better

Down where it's wetter

Take it from me"

And if you're looking to explore some of the beautiful treasures and abundant natural marine life under the sea, NSW is one of the best places in the world to do it. From the far north coast down to Jervis Bay on the south coast, then even out to the shores of Lord Howe Island, here are the top five spots to go snorkelling in NSW.

Snorkelling, Best Snorkelling in Australia, Best Snorkel Spots in NSW, Gordons Bay
Gordon's Bay. 3 Stroke Photography; Destination NSW

Jervis Bay
It shouldn't come as any great surprise to see Jervis Bay as the first location on this list. Known for its blindingly white beaches and ridiculously clear waters, the area is home to the Jervis Bay Marine Park.

Famous for the migrating whales who drop in during their annual coastal trip, the park is home to a vast array of underwater life. From seals, penguins and dolphins to many different species of fish and a diverse collection of shallow and rocky reefs.

Covering 22,000 hectares and more than 100 kilometres of gorgeous coastline, Jervis Bay Marine Park is the perfect spot to strap on goggles and flippers. You can read more about the park here.

Gordon's Bay
Although many Sydneysiders don't realise it, you don't have to travel far from the city to find some excellent snorkelling. Nestled in between Clovelly and Coogee, this secluded little bay is one of Sydney's hidden gems.

Protected by an offshore reef, the bay's waters are calm and sheltered, making it the ideal environment for some underwater exploring. From star fish and sponges to blue gropers, garfish and even baby sharks, there's plenty to see in this aquatic reserve.

There's even an underwater nature trail in the bay. While better for scuba divers, you can also snorkel along this 600-metre trail on a clear day.

You can find more information on Sydney snorkelling spots in this excellent article on WeekendNotes.

Nelson Bay
Whether you're heading out on a boat or just wading in from the shore, the Nelson Bay region has some pretty spectacular underwater scenery to offer. From Anna Bay and Fishermans Bay to Fly Point and Broughton Island, Nelson Bay offers plenty of aquatic adventures for avid snorkellers.

Snorkelling, Best Snorkelling in Australia, Best Snorkel Spots in NSW, Nelson Bay
Nelson Bay. Grenville Turner; Destination NSW

You can expect to see everything from kingfish and snapper to seahorses and a range of enchanting sponge gardens. Of course, there's also always a chance of experiencing a close encounter with a dolphin or two along the way.

You can find out more about things to see and do in Nelson Bay here.

Julian Rocks Marine Reserve
Heading further north to an area famous around the world for its coastal beauty and enviable beaches, Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is found at Byron Bay. Found about 2.5 kilometres northeast of the famous holiday town, the 4,000-hectare marine park surrounds two small islands.

Dunk your head in the water here and you can go looking for more than 500 species of fish. You can see manta rays, leopard sharks, wobbegongs, colourful hard and soft coral, nudibranchs and even the majestic loggerhead turtle.

You can read about the experience of snorkelling with turtles at Julian Rocks here.

Lord Howe Island
It may not be on the NSW mainland but Lord Howe Island is one of the world's best destinations for snorkelling. This World Heritage-listed location is home to the world's southernmost coral reef and is surrounded by some of the clearest waters on the planet.

Snorkelling, Best Snorkelling in Australia, Best Snorkel Spots in NSW, Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island. Don Fuchs; Destination NSW

These waters are simply teeming with life of all shapes, sizes and colours. From parrotfish to kingfish and turtles to stingrays, there's simply not enough space here to list all the beautiful creatures you can see at Lord Howe Island. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves instead - 500 types of fish, 90 species of coral and one spectacular marine park. 'Nuff said.
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Why? Explore another world under the sea
When: Anytime
Cost: Free if you've got your own gear, or you can hire from a local business
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