Get your flippers and swimmers ready to go—the sun is beaming brighter than ever on the Gold Coast and it’s time to explore our stunning home from beneath the surface. We've got you covered with all the best spots for you to dip your snorkels into our beautiful beaches and hidden underwater havens.
You’re going to want to round up your gang, make friends with someone with a boat and start ticking off our top picks of the Gold Coast's best snorkelling spots for 2024.
Looking for a thriving yet secluded snorkelling spot not too far from home? We’ve got you covered. Narrowneck Reef is an artificial reef built just a short swim off the beach between local hotspots, Surfers Paradise and Main Beach.
You’ll forget all about the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast as you explore the serene underwater world which is home to thousands of fish, wobbegong sharks, octopus, green turtles and dolphins. Originally built to protect the beach from erosion, this little-known artificial reef is just 200 metres offshore and now hosts a unique and thriving ecosystem, so grab your flippers and get out there.
Palm Beach Reef
Palm Beach Reef is the Gold Coast's largest coral reef system and boasts depths between five and 25 metres. At Palm Beach, you can float over beautiful, colourful coral and fish darting through the gorgeous reef.
The top of the reef rises to just five metres below the surface and there are many rocky outcrops to explore. This diving spot is not for the faint hearted—you might even spot a couple of big fish too as this spot is known for being home to stingrays and a couple of leopard sharks.
The Gold Coast Seaway
With three incredible main diving and snorkelling spots, the Gold Coast Seaway is a firm favourite among local divers and snorkellers. The South Wall dive starts from the shore at the Short Pipe and is close to the wall so it’s perfect for beginners.
Venture to the North Wall if you want to sneak a peek of whaler sharks and the South West Wall is the ideal spot for an introduction to scuba diving, with a gradual decline and calm waters. The warm water temperature, the abundance of sea life, the central location, the easy access—it’s a recipe made in snorkelling heaven.
Scottish Prince Wreck
This isn't just any snorkelling spot—you’ll be exploring the sunken shipwreck of The Scottish Prince, a 64-metre iron basque ship which sank off 800 metres off the Southport Spit in 1887. Yep, we’re listening. The ship was originally carrying whiskey and linen, but unfortunately, you won’t score any lucky finds as only the hull remains.
These days, the Scottish Prince is covered in soft coral, making it a haven for crayfish, sharks, tropical fish, rays and even more unusual species like leafy scorpionfish. You will need a boat to get to this Gold Coast diving spot.
Kirra Reef is an absolute must-do when it comes to snorkelling on the Gold Coast. You’ll see most of the same aquatic life at the Palm Beach Reef but at Kirra, you'll be able to snorkel from rock to rock which is pretty damn cool.
You're likely to encounter smaller species like octopus and cuttlefish, however many large species visit this rocky reef including stingrays and wobbegongs. We recommend you take an underwater camera with you for this one—this is a truly picturesque view of what lies beneath the surface.
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If you're new to snorkelling, Wavebreak Island is a great place to start, as there are many tours that you can jump on to experience the gorgeous underwater views (complete with coral reef) of the Coast in a chilled-out environment.
You do need to get to Wavebreak Island by boat, but you can hire them to get to the island from Surfers Paradise and the Nerang River.
Image Credit: Tangalooma Wrecks | TEQ
Just an hour from Brisbane, the Tangalooma Wrecks offer some of the best snorkelling in South-East Queensland. There are 15 wrecks which were deliberately sunk a few years back, creating a man-made reef; a pretty decent idea considering the thriving ocean life these wrecks have adopted.
Expect turtles, wobbegongs, dugongs, and of course, fish galore. Chasing pretty coral? Flinders Reef is five kilometres northwest of the island and features around 100 species of coral and 200 fish species.
Take a ten-minute boat ride to Cook Island just off the Tweed Coast for a snorkelling experience to remember. Want to know the best reason to go and check out Cook Island? Aside from the jaw-dropping beaches, you'll be snorkelling with turtles.
At Cook Island, you can go on a snorkelling tour or head out by yourself to get a complete view of the island's fish, reef, coral and turtles. Local divers have even named the turtles on Cook Island, so you may find yourself snorkelling alongside Crush, Cookie or Picasso.
We’re going to let you in on this Byron local's secret. Sure, it’s not exactly on the Gold Coast but this one is worth the day trip down south to Byron Bay. Head out to Broken Head Beach, make a swift right up a dirt road just before you get to the beach, follow the secret road until you see signs for White's Beach and voila, you are in one of the most magical places in the world.
Take your snorkels into the water on a calm day or get amongst the rockpools to gaze under the bluest water and catch a glimpse of stunning wildlife.
Looking for more things to do? Check out:
- The Best Free Things To Do On The Gold Coast
- The Gold Coast's Best Coastal Walks
- The Best Things To Do With Kids
Main image credit: Unsplash