|Site Type:||Summary Page - see also hyperlinked individual entries|
|Location:||From Palm Beach to Kurnell|
Diveplanit presents a very quick summary of the most popular of Sydney dive sites. Some are hyperlinked to more detailed listings – others just give an overview here. This is one of our most visited pages, but also the last one before visitors leave the site. So if something’s missing here – please send us a quick message via Contact Us form and we’ll fix it!
Before we get into the detail – here’s a fantastic video showcasing Sydney’s underwater world, produced by Facebook group VIZ – Sydney Diving Visibility Reports founder, Marco Bordieri.
You can check the visibility each day by joining the Viz – Sydney Diving Visibility Reports Facebook Group, and check their handy dive site maps below. Scroll to the bottom of this page for the 2020 results of their fascinating Tracking Project.
Valiant Wreck at Barrenjoey Head
The wreck of a 23m tug in a sand base at 27m. Very colourful, some super-structure left standing. You can go around it twice in 30 minutes. Take a torch to get the best out of it. As the terrain is mainly sand there is not much fauna on the wreck.
Note this is a 27m dive; you may get a bit narked!
Apartments at Long Reef
Apartments at Long Reef is an offshore bommie of ledges and rocks dive. Large rectangular shaped rocks (hence the name) amongst kelp with plenty of places to scrabble around and find stuff. You’ll find fauna appropriate to this terrain: the usual temperate reef fish; occasionally Grey Reef Shark.
Note: current can change direction while you are out there
Wall at Long Reef
Adjacent to The Apartments, the Wall drops from 8 to 15m, (before it gives way to The Apartments). Lots of nooks and crannies, plenty of small reef fish, and the things you usually find in holes: usual temperate reef fish and plenty of moray eels.
Note: current can change direction while you are out there – take an SMB!
Freshwater is a Shore dive over rocks and along a wall. It starts at the channel by the pump at the ocean pool.
The shallow channel quickly gives way to rocks, boulders and ledges along the wall. Can be done as a there and back, or one way off the rocks and right to the channel by the pool. Fauna can be a bit hit and miss, though occasionally stingarees, shovelnose rays and blue groper are seen.
Note: dive at low water slack, or just after, to have an in-coming current on the way back
Manly Bommie at Manly is a shallow, squat bommie 50m offshore dive. Rectangular plateau of rock with crevices running east-west surrounded by sand. Lots to see in the crevices, take your time and just keep going around. Fauna appropriate to the terrain in the crevices and deep gutters: Sergeant Baker, morwong, crimson-banded and Maori wrasse.
Note: beware of boats overhead.
Fairy Bower at Manly is a Scenic Reef Shore Dive. Kelpy rocks and boulders, of various sizes, with the sandy base into the bay which is 7m max so best dived at high tide if you have a choice. As part of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, you’ll see some of the 200+ recorded species plus the occasional surprise visitor, like a resting ray, turtle, grey nurse shark or a friendly dolphin.
Being a no-take zone it has the greatest diversity of marine species of any bay around Sydney.
Shelly Beach at Manly is a Scenic Shore dive. Two separate dives with different terrains: North Side is boulders to sand; south, along the Esplanade, is rocky and kelpy. As part of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve rated as the best shore dive in NSW; vis is typically better on the boulderous north side. Over 200 recorded species, you’ll see 25+ on any dive if you get in amongst the rocks – don’t just swim along the boulder/sand line! A large variety of mid-size temperate reef fish can be found; lots of juveniles; occasional Bull Ray, Dusky Whalers and Dolphin.
Blue Fish Wall at Manly
Blue Fish Point Wall at Manly is a colourful wall dive with sponge and a few soft corals, and lots of little stuff. Take a bearing from the boat, hit the wall, go to one edge (opposite edge to all the other divers!), work your way along the wall at 15m, in one direction, and at 2/3 tank, go up to 7m and traverse back to the other end. Fauna appropriate to the terrain which is an almost vertical wall from 5m down to 22m: Small reef fish on the wall, occasional crayfish.
Blue Fish Point at Manly
Blue Fish Point at Manly is typical North Head terrain: a jumble of large boulders down to sand at 22m. You don’t need to go to 22m; the fauna worth seeing, Cuttlefish, groper, Yellow-tail scad, is mainly around the 14m mark.
Old Man’s Hat at North Head
Old Man’s Hat at North Head is also typical North Head terrain. A jumble of large rocks down to the sand at 24m. There’s plenty of temperate stuff to see if you take your time including Wobbegongs on the rocks, occasionally Port Jackson Sharks on the sand, and weedy seadragons on the kelp.
Quarantine Station at North Head
Quarantine Station at North Head is a sandy bay shallow dive. Actually this is really just a glorified snorkel, and only worth doing if you got kitted up, but couldn’t get out of the heads. Fauna appropriate to a flat sandy bottom: Goatfish and other bottom feeders, occasional ray or stingaree.
Note: beware of boats overhead
Fairlight is a Shallow shore dive with ledges and boulders. Beyond the grass and kelp there are ledges running parallel to the land; and large boulders around and passed the swimming pool. Compared to Shelly, a no-take zone, the fauna is pretty sparse: scad, morwong, cuttlefish, and the odd Moorish idol.
Forty Baskets is a shallow shore dive. There is a netted pool on sand – though far fewer critters here than Clifton Gardens or even Balmoral. Head south to Reef Beach and the rocky outcrop just south of it. Take it steady and conserve air – it can be a long snorkel back!
Fauna appropriate to the terrain which is a rocky margin at shoreline between beaches; sand everywhere else: Goatfish and other bottom feeders, occasional ray or stingaree.
Balmoral Baths is a shallow shore dive along shark netting. Netted pool on sand though worth it for the seahorses; also leatherjackets.
Note: ever underestimate a pillar valve’s ability to get tangled in netting.
Chowder Bay at Clifton Gardens
Clifton Gardens is a shallow inshore harbour muck dive. Classic inshore harbour muck dive: most dives here you will see seahorses, especially now with the recent installation of seahorse hotels, decorator crabs, nudibranchs, pipefish, cuttlefish, octopus, anglerfish, filefish, goatfish, blennies and gobies.
Note: the fishermen overhead have been known to be abusive to divers.
Camp Cove is a shallow shore dive with sand, a low reef and wall dive. A dive in three parts: under what is often referred to as Wall #4 – it’s a rock face to the north with the speed limit = 4 knots – on it; a squat reef that is possibly 50 m long and lies about 40m off the beach, parallel to it and centred with it; and the point to the south at the end of the beach. Different fauna in the different terrains which include crabs, pygmy leatherjackets, Whites Seahorse, and cuttlefish.
Note: beware of boats overhead
Gordon’s Bay, near Clovelly
Gordon’s Bay is actually an underwater nature trail. It takes about forty minutes to dive the 600-meter trail, the deepest part of which is 14m. On a clear day, it’s possible to snorkel the trail from the surface. The trail is marked by a chain connected to concrete-filled drums about 20 meters apart with information displayed on steel plaques. There is an abundance of species living along the rocks, though apparently not as many as there was before the chain was installed. The entry and exit point is at the end of a short path which comes off Cliffbrook Parade less than 100m from the south-west corner of the carpark at the end of Victory Street, Clovelly.
Fauna appropriate to the terrain which is rocks on a sandy base: Mado and morwong guaranteed!
Magic Point at Maroubra is known as a Grey Nurse Shark Dive, however the population here has decreased in recent years. Also look out for weedy seadragons, wobbegongs and giant cuttlefish. Follow the instructions of the dive guide; if you are going without one, make sure you have at least read a Shark Awareness briefing sheet.
Bare Island at La Perouse
Bare Island Bare Island at La Perouse is a shallow shore dive with boulders and soft coralsThere are two dives here: the Left Side which is best, but a bit tricky in even a mild southerly swell, and Right Side, which is where you dive when there’s a mild Southerly swell. Lots of soft coral and sea stars. The max depth is about 12m, but you’ll see the most interesting stuff at a 7m depth profile. Great site for nudibranchs, pygmy pipefish, seahorses and Red Indian fish.
Kurnell Steps and Kurnell Monument
There are actually two dive sites at Kurnell: Kurnell Monument and Kurnell Steps – both relatively easy dives, both with easy access and car parking close by. The monument faces north-west and is essentially a drift along the beachside – enter at the end of Monument Path. Kurnell Steps faces north-east and is more exposed to tidal flow in and out of the harbour.
Kurnell is a small-scale-dive – one where you have to get down in amongst the kelp and crevices – but a very colourful site. Not dissimilar to Bare Island – for obvious reasons.