Protected by Jervis Bay Marine Park, the calm, crystal-clear waters of Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast are tailor-made for snorkelling. Just offshore you’ll find temperate rocky reefs and kelp gardens home to myriad sea creatures including stingrays, octopi, friendly sharks and more than 210 fish species. For those keen to meet some of the marine park’s larger residents, several local operators offer the opportunity to swim with seals and humpback whales, with whales typically entering the bay in September and October.
Remember that Jervis Bay is a protected area, so it’s particularly important not to disturb natural habitats or get too close to the marine life you may encounter while exploring this incredible underwater world. When you’re ready to dive in, check out these top spots.
Tucked just inside the heads in Booderee National Park, picturesque Murrays Beach has some of the bay’s best snorkelling potential, with shallow and deep-water rock reefs, caves, sand zones, seagrass meadows and silty sand-flats to explore. Look out for squid hiding amongst the kelp (or laying eggs under the rocky shelves), and if you’re really lucky, you might even cross paths with a little penguin. Take care if heading out towards Governor Head, as the currents can be strong here.
Just south of Vincentia, this scenic small bay surrounded by coastal bushland offers particularly good snorkelling at the southern end of the bay, where you’ll find underwater forests teeming with fish and stingrays (including beautifully patterned fiddled rays, also known as banjo sharks). For a change of scenery, take the White Sands Walk to Greenfield Beach, the next bay around, for more good snorkelling around the rocky heads of the small bay.
Not only is it one of Jervis Bay’s most genetically blessed beaches, but Honeymoon Bay, tucked inside the western side of the Beecroft Peninsula, also offers some very decent snorkelling. Head out through the narrow opening of the bay to spot fish in the kelpy shallows, with rocky ledges and drop-offs home to some pretty soft corals further out. The visibility tends to be best at high tide, and when the wind isn’t blowing from the west.
Also known as Hyams Point, this little beach north of Jervis Bay’s most famous stretch of sand boasts the same clear water that creates excellent snorkelling conditions. Blue gropers, small stingrays and even Port Jackson sharks are often spotted in the kelp gardens and rocky reefs just off the beach, along with plenty of fish. Just north of Little Hymas, Chinamans Beach is another local snorkelling secret, generally attracting fewer snorkellers than popular Hyams.
Just north of Huskisson Beach, quieter Shark Net Beach (named for a shark net that has since been removed) has a particularly rocky shoreline, where all sorts of marine critters like to hang out. Head up to the elevated reserve behind the beach, choose a good spot to dive in, and try not to worry about sharks, as the feisty ones rarely enter Jervis Bay.
The ancient sea caves and bountiful marine life (including endangered eastern blue devilfish and grey nurse sharks) at the southern tip of the Beecroft Peninsula are particularly popular with divers, but it’s also possible to snorkel here on a tour. Time your trip between May and October, when you might be lucky enough to swim alongside fur seals, which are known to show off by mimicking your movements and swimming around you.