WHERE TO GO
Colourful coral, flash fish and the salty sea make our ocean a treasure trove that’s just waiting to be discovered. Tourism WA gives us their top spots for snorkelling this summer.
Perth’s idyllic island playground, Rottnest is just a short ferry ride from Perth, and a world away from city life. For a tiny island, this car-free and carefree A-Class Reserve packs a lot of pleasure into a day. More than 60 stunning beaches, 20 beautiful bays and many coral reefs and wrecks invite you to enjoy some of Australia’s finest swimming spots, snorkel trails and surf breaks. And on dry land, you’ll meet the world famous quokka – the cutest mini-marsupial ever, found only in Western Australia – as well as many other unique plant and animal species.
Just 19km off the coast. Ferries depart regularly from Fremantle, Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty, and Hillarys Boat Harbour. You can opt to arrive in style by helicopter or air taxi, or even cruise across in your own boat.
Shoalwater Islands Marine Park
Pristine islands, reefs and shipwrecks make for excellent diving, snorkelling and wildlife-watching in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. The reefs surrounding the islands provide good snorkelling and diving, and marine life abounds, including sea stars, urchins and molluscs, as well as a number of fish species. Take to the water and you’ll probably run into a pod of bottlenose dolphins – they’re extremely common in the marine park – and you can swim with dolphins on tours that operate regularly.
Shoalwater Islands Marine Park is accessible from Rockingham, less than an hour’s drive south of Perth.
Marmion Marine Park
Just north of Perth, Marmion Marine Park is a snorkelling and diving playground of limestone reefs, ledges, caves, swim-throughs and crystal-clear lagoons. It’s also a top spot for whale watching (in season). Seabirds, dolphins, sea lions, rays and a huge diversity of other marine species call this coast home.
The marine park stretches north from Trigg Island, a 20-minute drive from the centre of Perth and a short boat ride from the launch sites at Hillarys Boat Harbour and Ocean Reef. Mettams Pool is a novice-friendly snorkel spot that also has ramps and wheelchair access.
Dunsborough and Busselton
Off the coast of Dunsborough, there’s the destroyer escort HMAS Swan – Western Australia’s most famous prepared wreck – providing divers with a real adrenalin rush. The nearby Busselton Jetty has been described as Australia’s greatest artificial reef, and is host to an awe-inspiring forest of vividly coloured tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory sits 8m below the surface and gives a superb view of the marine life and coral.
About two hours and 30 minutes south of Perth.
Rottnest Island’s Parker Point Identified with buoys, there are twelve interpretive plaques with handles, making them easy to spot and hang onto when reading. Parker Point generally has calm and clear water conditions, allowing for optimum viewing of plants, fish and reef. The water is a little deeper, making it ideal for a more experienced swimmer.
Located on the southern side of Rottnest, it can be accessed via Bayseeker Bus or bike.
Jurien Bay There are 78 Reef Balls that have been placed here to create the snorkel trail. You can also get handy swim cards from local shops that will help you identify the fish and coral you are likely to see on the trail. A small charge applies, with all proceeds going to the support and maintenance of the trail.
Starts about 25m from shore at the end of the old jetty piles.
Shoalwater Islands The Cape Peron Snorkelling Trail is the best way to see the Marine Park. Penguins, sea lions, dolphins, rocky reefs, and a shipwreck make up the basis of this trail. Plinths along the oceanic floors with interpretive signs allow swimmers to learn and explore the area.
Off the Rockingham coast, less than 45 minutes’ drive south of Perth.
WHAT TO BRING
Mask and flippers It is crucial they both fit well for optimum comfort and activity.
Rashie and tight hat This will keep hair out of the way and stop your head from burning on a hot day, as well as protecting your body. Don’t be fooled – when you’re in the water, you can still get sunburned!
Wetsuit Pack this baby if you’re prone to getting cold or if you plan on staying in the water for an extended period of time.
Biodegradable sunscreen Sunscreen that biodegrades in water is the best choice, so it doesn’t affect the marine life, but any sunscreen is better than none.
Water and snacks You will be super-hungry and dehydrated when you get out of the water – so be prepared.