The Five Best Snorkelling Spots Near Brisbane
Swim with dolphins, spot shipwrecks, and peek into the underwater lives of starfish, sea anemones and more.
With its warm waters and nearby islands, Brisbane is one of Australia's snorkel-friendliest cities. You can sip top-shelf drops in a wine library one day and lose yourself in an underwater wonderland the next, surrounded by wobbegong sharks, dolphins, turtles and tropical fish.
Here are five of the best spots for snorkelling near Brisbane — from the dramatic shipwrecks of Moreton Island to the crystal-clear bays of heritage-listed Peel Island.
TANGALOOMA WRECKS, MORETON ISLAND
This purpose-built shipwreck is one of Australia's best-known snorkelling spots. Back in 1963, fifteen boats were deliberately sunk off Moreton Island's west coast, creating both a break wall for small vessels and an appealing new home for sea creatures. Among rusted steel and coral gardens, you'll meet wobbegong sharks, trevally, kingfish, yellowtail and tropical fish.
It's possible to swim to Tangalooma Wrecks from Moreton Island, but do be careful of the current, which is strong at times. To travel in the safety of a group, consider booking a snorkelling tour. Moreton Island lies 40 kilometres off the coast — a 75-minute ferry ride from Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba.
AMITY POINT, NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND
Just off Amity Point Jetty — the northernmost point of North Stradbroke Island — is a series of rock walls, where all sorts of marine creatures gather to feast and socialise. Expect to meet plenty of fish and, if you're lucky, dolphins or turtles as well. Six of the world's seven turtle species live in North Stradbroke's waters.
Other places on the island with thriving underwater communities include Deadman's Beach and South Gorge. If you're not confident snorkelling on your own, think about joining a tour. North Stradbroke Island is 30 kilometres off the coast — to get there, you can catch a water taxi (25 minutes) or ferry (50 minutes) from Toondah Harbour, Cleveland.
TEERK ROO RA (PEEL ISLAND) NATIONAL PARK
Once a quarantine station for people with leprosy, Peel Island — named Teerk Roo Ra National Park since 2007 — is now a serene natural haven frequented by sailors and sea kayakers. Here, the two best places for snorkelling are both human-made. In Platypus Bay, there's The Platypus, built in 1883 and deliberately wrecked in 1926, while off the island's north coast is the Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef, made up of 17,000 car tyres, 200 trolleys, 450 tonnes of concrete pipe, a scuttled tuna fishing vessel and a 60-tonne barge.
Peel Island is six kilometres off the mainland. To get there, you'll need to hire a private boat.
GOLD COAST SEAWAY, GOLD COAST
In the mid-80s, the Gold Coast Seaway was created to help vessels safely enter Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast Broadwater from the Pacific Ocean. This involved building two rock walls, which now offer adventures a-plenty for snorkellers. They're teeming with seahorses, giant gropers, eagle rays, wrasses and stacks of other species of fish and marine life.
The easiest place to access the water is the South Wall, which is just six metres deep. If you're keen to venture further, take care: there's a lot of boat traffic. The Gold Coast Seaway is an hour's drive south of Brisbane.
MUDJIMBA ISLAND, SUNSHINE COAST
Mudjimba Island (Old Woman's Island) lies 1.2 kilometres off the mainland, directly west of Mudjimba Beach. Unlike most other reefs on the Sunshine Coast, its is just three metres below the surface, which makes for perfect snorkelling. Colourful gardens are busy with turtles and tropical fish, easily visible through crystal-clear water.
There are two ways to get to this underwater paradise: by kayak (if you're a confident paddler) or by boat from Mooloolaba. Alternatively, join a snorkelling expedition.
Top image: Tourism and Events Queensland.
Published on October 14, 2021 by Jasmine Crittenden