Best snorkelling spots in the Whitsundays
The Great Barrier Reef is an underwater world that everyone needs to experience more than once in their lifetime and one of the easiest and most accessible ways to do it is snorkelling.
Each precinct of this World Heritage-listed wonder offers a different snorkel experience and The Whitsundays is renowned for the fringing reefs that surround the Whitsunday Islands, as well as outer reef sites.
The Whitsundays precinct of the Great Barrier Reef is also known for its optimal water temperature (for impressive coral growth) and a tidal range that helps transport food and nutrients to feed the reef.
If you’re planning a trip to the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, slap on your snorkel and get busy following this list of the best snorkelling spots in The Whitsundays.
(Also see our 10 best snorkelling sites in Queensland post).
MANTA RAY BAY, HOOK ISLAND
On the Northern side of Hook Island is one of the best snorkel sites in the Whitsunday Islands, Manta Ray Bay. During winter, as the name suggests, manta rays can be spotted here. All year round you can snorkel with abundant marine life including the Maori wrasse, and you can see a range of hard and soft coral coverage.
Hook Island is home to a number of great snorkel sites that are a favourite with snorkel tours from the islands and Airlie Beach. Other great sites for snorkelling on the fringing reef of this island include Butterfly Bay, Luncheon Bay and the coves around Stonehaven, which is a popular anchorage for charter boats.
BLUE PEARL BAY, HAYMAN ISLAND
Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island is a popular snorkel site with day trip tours and sailing trips for its colourful coral covering.
Locals tip: Go to the northern part of Blue Pearl Bay to find the best variety and quantity of fish, including the colourful parrot fish which provides the underwater soundtrack you can hear, as they chomp away on coral.
Dumbell Island is a smaller island nestled in between Whitsunday Island and Border Island. Everyone knows that famous fish Nemo, and Dumbell Island is one of the top snorkel sites in the Whitsundays to see anemones and clownfish.
The Great Barrier Reef has a list of eight unique marine life encounters to tick off your snorkelling bucket list.
LANGFORD ISLAND, NEAR HAYMAN ISLAND
Just off Hayman Island is a little slice of paradise that packs a lot of punch in the activities stakes.
Langford Island grows at low tide with an extra sand spit being exposed and a fringing reef accessible right off the beach. After a picnic here, you can snorkel straight off the sand, but the best coral scenery and marine life activity is closer to the island part of this mini eco-system.
BLACK ISLAND OR BALI HAI
Sheltered on all sides by Landford Island, Hayman Island and Hook Island is Black Island – locally known as Bali Hai and a bit of a secret snorkelling spot.
HARDY REEF, OUTER GREAT BARRIER REEF
It’ll take you about two hours from Airlie Beach to arrive at the Hardy Reef Pontoon but once there you can snorkel to your heart’s delight along the reef wall or the many coral lagoons.
Out here you can see turtles, reef sharks and even a giant grouper with all your other favourite reef fish.
Some of the snorkel sites listed above have been impacted by recent weather events in Queensland. Please make contact with the operator or visit their website for information regarding bookings and travel plans.