What to do in Parks – Snorkel
Measuring an amazing 10,194 kilometres, Western Australia has the longest coastline of any state or territory in Australia. It is little wonder that WA also has some of the best snorkelling spots in the country. WA Marine Parks are great places to snorkel and there are even underwater snorkel trails. Being spoiled for choice, here are some of the best spots for snorkelling:
The Mackerel Islands are 22km off the coast near Onslow in the Pilbara Region. Thevenard Island in the Mackerel Islands group is surrounded by reef teeming with coral formations and colorful reef fish. Direction Island is also a great spot to slip on a mask and explore the colorful underwater world.
The 122 islands making up the Houtman Abrolhos Island group can be reached by boat or a scenic flight from Geraldton. More than 180 species of coral have been identified in the Abrolhos and you can take a day-long snorkelling tour to explore diverse coral gardens fringing the islands. The waters here are classed as a fish habitat protection area.
The Jurien Bay Marine Park extends from Greenhead to south of Nambung National Park. Snorkel sites along the limestone reef that runs parallel to the shoreline offer diverse marine life, including sea lions, dolphins and colorful coral.
There are a variety of great snorkeling sites around Rottnest Island. At Parker Point, snorkellers can follow a special underwater snorkel trail. There are approximately 400 species of fish and 20 different species of coral within the Rottnest Island Marine Reserve.
The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park includes the waters of Shoalwater Bay, Warnbro Sound and a small part of Cockburn Sound encompassing several islands including Penguin Island. Reefs in shallow waters around the islands are popular snorkelling spots but make sure you are there before the sea breeze hits. Look out for wildlife including Australian sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and the little penguin.
The warm Leeuwin Current supports more than 300 tropical and sub-tropical marine species around Busselton Jetty. As well as colourful fish, you can also see corals and sponges under what has been described as one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs.
You’ll find several excellent snorkelling sites along the coast near Esperance. The shallow waters around Woody Island are a popular spot. At Shearwater Bay you can follow an underwater snorkel trail. At Munglinup Beach you can snorkel along the reef in Esperance’s famous crystal-clear waters.
Located in the William Bay National Park, near Denmark, Greens Pool is a calm and sheltered bay with shallow water, making it an ideal snorkelling spot for the kids. Glide along the reef between the area’s unique rock formations.
Marmion Marine Park covers Perth’s northern beaches from Trigg Island to Burns Beach. Many of the park’s submerged reefs are popular with divers but an easily accessed snorkelling site within the park is Mettams Pool – a sheltered bay with reef close to the shore.
Ningaloo Reef Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, stretching more than 300km between the North West Cape and Red Bluff. It is one of our most accessible fringing reefs making it perfect for snorkelling with close access to the beach and snorkel sites by vehicle. It is a stunning coral reef teeming with more than 500 species of fish.
(Source: RAC Horizon magazine December 2015)