You’ll find some of the world’s most pristine waters and diverse marine life in South Australia. Mask up and get beneath the surface of our marine parks
to see fish, sponges, crabs, seahorses, reefs, rays and more. You can snorkel safely in almost all of our marine parks. Make sure you do your research, get local advice and assess conditions before taking the plunge.
Download a Beachcombing Guide and Snorkeler's Guide to find out more about the plants and animals you might see on the beach or while snorkelling in our marine parks.
Something for everyone
Anyone can have a go at snorkelling. For the beginner, the reefs off Port Noarlunga and Aldinga are a great place to make your first splash. These temperate reef systems are part of the Encounter Marine Park. The water is shallow with easy access. Float past schools of fish and find sea stars, colourful sponges and other intricate creatures. See how many of the site’s 200-plus marine plant species and 60-plus fish species you can spot.
For the experienced snorkeller, take a tour and swim with Australian sea lions at Baird Bay off Eyre Peninsula. This site is part of the West Coast Bays Marine Park and one of only a handful of places in the world where you can swim with these endangered animals. The wild sea lion population at Baird Bay is curious with a sense of fun and love to get up close to snorkellers.
Take a tour
If you’re new to snorkelling and would like a bit of guidance, there are plenty of accredited operators offering tours. Visit the South Australian Tourism Commission and South Australian Tourism Industry Council (Quality Tourism South Australia) to find one.
Our cuttlefish capital
Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park
near Whyalla is famous for its giant Australian cuttlefish. Each year from May to August snorkellers and divers flock there to witness the spectacle of the giant cuttlefish spawning. See the cuttlefish ripple their fins and change colour and pattern as they try to impress potential mates. This giant cuttlefish aggregation is now in serious decline, making the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park an important habitat site for conserving this iconic species.
Leafy sea dragon wonders
Sharp-eyed snorkellers may spot leafy sea dragons - the animal named as South Australia’s marine emblem. This elegant creature is a close relative of the seahorse. It floats like a feather as it glides through the water, its yellow lobes of skin resemble a floating piece of seaweed. Sea dragon hot spots include Encounter Marine Park
and Southern Spencer Gulf Marine Park
. Be sure to visit the biennial Festival Fleurieu
(formally Leafy Sea Dragon Festival) in the district of Yankalilla.
SA’s snorkelling hot spots
- Chinaman’s Hat on the Yorke Peninsula (Southern Spencer Gulf Marine Park) - see eagle rays and southern rock lobsters
- Port Noarlunga and Aldinga Reef (Encounter Marine Park) - excellent sites for beginners where you can see schools of old wives, silver drummers, orange biscuit stars and large kelp fronds waving in the swell
- Antechamber Bay, Kangaroo Island (Encounter Marine Park) - you’ll need a boat but there are terrific reefs dropping into deeper waters where you can see harlequin fish and blue throat wrasse
- Harvey’s Return, Kangaroo Island (Western Kangaroo Island Marine Park) - after a steep climb down the hill you could be rewarded with a blue groper sighting
- Second Valley and Rapid Bay Jetty (Encounter Marine Park) - see leafy sea dragons and southern calamari
- Point Lowly, Whyalla (Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park) - see giant cuttlefish spawning from May to August
- Baird Bay (West Coast Bays Marine Park) - swim with Australian sea lions and dolphins
- Smooth Pool, south west of Streaky Bay on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula (West Coast Bays Marine Park) - snorkel intertidal granite rock pools and marvel at fish, crabs, algae, snails and starfish. The locals say there is a friendly resident blue groper who likes to say hello.