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Snorkelling sites

The Whitsundays offer some of the world's best snorkelling sites. Swim among abundant tropical marine life in spectacularly clear and warm water. Grab your flippers, click on a site and go!

Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay
Turtle swimming over a coral reef

Sailor’s secret:

This is the spot to be when the winds blow from the north-east in summer months. There’s a good chance you’ll encounter up to six different species of turtles.

Features:

There's some good snorkelling on the reef on the bay's eastern side. Visibility will be best in neap tides and if the wind has been in the northern sectors for a day.

Chance Bay
Chance Bay
Flippered feet of a snorkeller over a reef in the Whitsundays's Chance Bay

Sailor’s secret:

A great spot for children to gain confidence, especially during northerly winds when conditions are best. The water is so shallow they can stand and see fish at their feet.

Features:

Chance is a double bay with two white sandy beaches. Venture beyond the beaches and nearby shallows to find good snorkelling around the little islet on the western side.

Whitehaven
Whitehaven
View along white sand on Whitehaven Beach to aqua water and nearby islands

Sailor’s secret:

Experience the incredible phenomenon of shifting tides and sands colliding in a swirl of sparkling colours. You’re likely to encounter stingrays, harmless baby lemon sharks and clown fish.

Features:

With its white silica sands and crystal clear waters, this is Australia's most famous beach. Snorkel straight off the shore to see small to mid-sized tropical fish life.

Chalkies Beach
Chalkies Beach
Three children lying on Chalkies Beach in snorkels, masks and flippers

Sailor’s secret:

Little divers love discovering the millions of wriggly marine flat worms on the ocean floor. Locals say Chalkies has more of these harmless creatures than anywhere else in the Whitsundays.

Features:

The fringing coral reef just offshore provides great snorkelling. Watch for tiny fish in all colours darting through the waters and in and out of the myriad coral.

Cateran Bay
Cateran Bay
Two girls with snorkels and masks

Sailor’s secret:

When it comes to snorkelling spots for children, this is one of the best. Choose one of two moorings on the bay's right side where the water is three to eight metres deep and perfectly calm.

Features:

The best spots are on either side of the entrance. There is good hard coral cover in shallow water (to six metres), which makes for easy snorkelling. Scattered coral bommies continue down to 12 metres and there are plenty of gullies and ledges to explore.

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles
Clownfish emerging from white anemone

Sailor’s secret:

The Pinnacles has some of the best underwater views in the Whitsundays, especially off the western beach. You’ll see hard corals comparable to the best you’ll see in the outer Reef!

Features:

Large coral bommies dominate the terrain, rising almost to the surface. You’ll see acropora corals and in the shallow water, particularly off the western beach, the staghorn coral cover is nearly solid. Fish life is medium-size and manta rays are common, especially during cooler months.

Langford Island
Langford Island
Green Turtle

Sailor’s secret:

A top spot to see many turtle species including Green Sea and Hawksbill turtles which come ashore to lay their eggs on the golden beach during the summer months.

Features:

The island is a tiny patch of land with a long sand-spit jutting out to the south-east, known as Langford Spit Beach. Snorkel straight off the beach. Best areas to explore are closest to the island. You’ll find soft and hard corals in all shapes, sizes and colours.

Blue Pearl Bay
Blue Pearl Bay
Image of Elvis the Humphead Maori Wrasse in Blue Pearl Bay

Sailor’s secret:

Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of Whitsundays celebrity, Elvis – a Humphead Maori Wrasse. He's thought to be about 50 years old!

Features:

Famous for its fringing coral reef, the best spots are off Dolphin Bay, on the northern tip, and off Castle Rock at the southern end. A large number of bommies lie between Castle Rock and the middle of the bay.

Butterfly Bay
Butterfly Bay
Pink and orange Alcyonaria-type corals surrounded by Orange Basslet in Butterfly Bay

Sailor’s secret:

The best time is the middle of the day when the light is brightest for viewing a range of beautiful fringing coral reefs, bommies and marine life.

Features:

Due to the bay’s steep sides, the sun disappears over the ridge earlier than most. There are several very good spots particularly along the bayside of Alcyonaria Point – named for its abundant alcyonaria-type coral – at the western entrance.

Maureen's Cove
Maureen's Cove
The heads of two small white eels seen amongst colourful coral of the Great Barrier Reef

Sailor’s secret:

Take your camera to capture the incredible soft mushroom leather corals in green, grey and yellow at the Boulders on the eastern edge of the bay.

Features:

Along with the Boulders, where you can also look for large gorgonian fans near the point, there's good snorkelling off the western side of the beach. A series of bommies rising to within three metres of the surface offers gullies and shallow caves where you’ll see medium-sized fish.

Luncheon Bay
Luncheon Bay
Image of a yacht on the waters of Luncheon Bay with foreground of coral and reef fish below the surface

Sailor’s secret:

Visit during the cooler months and you might hear the sounds of whale song under water during the annual migration of the Humpback whales (July to September).

Features:

There's interesting terrain and good coral cover in the shallows. Best snorkelling is to the eastern side, where there are coral gullies and ledges. You’re likely to see good-sized fish life including wrasse, sweetlip and red emperor.

Manta Ray Bay
Manta Ray Bay
Head and fins of a clownfish emerging from yellow anemone

Sailor’s secret:

Look for fish-in-residence, Albert, younger cousin of Elvis – the famous Humphead Maori Wrasse. One of the best sites for snorkelling straight off the beach.

Features:

There's very good snorkelling throughout the bay. Scattered bommies reach up to within two metres of the surface and are home to large plates of acropora coral. See fields of staghorn coral in shallow waters near the beach.

*Sailor’s secrets courtesy of the Whitsunday Diving Academy.

*Other snorkelling information courtesy of the 'Whitsundays' Bible' 100 Magic Miles, by David Colfelt