When it comes to summer, the heat makes us want to spend our days submerged in a body of cold water. And while Brisbane is close to a slew of white-sand beaches and lush swimming holes, snorkelling takes things one step further as a summer activity. We get to cool down, all the while spotting an array of fish, as well as turtles, dugongs and dolphins if we’re lucky.
Get your mask and flippers ready for 8 of the most stunning snorkelling spots near Brisbane.
1. Tangalooma Wrecks, Mulgulpin (Moreton Island)
Tangalooma Wrecks is home to one of the best snorkelling spots near Brisbane. We’d say it’d be up there with the best in the country too, garnering plenty of attention for its clear blue waters and Insta-worthy drone photos.
Swim your way through the abandoned ship wrecks just off the Tangalooma coast, where the rusted steel has become a safe haven for coral gardens and marine life aplenty. Ever wanted to see a dugong in the ocean? This could be your chance. These big sea creatures inhabit the waters around the island, as do wobbegong, turtles and a variety of fish.
To snorkel here, you can either swim from the island, minding that the current can become strong at times, or book a snorkelling tour.
Distance from Brisbane: 1hr 15 minutes (drive + ferry ride)
2. Cudgen Creek, Kingscliff
A hidden gem awaits you on the North Coast of NSW. At high tide, Cudgen Creek turns into a gorgeous blue lagoon, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Best of all, you can jump in right from the bank and get crystal-clear views of the sea life through your mask.
Cudgen Creek is nestled right next to Kingscliff Beach as well, so you can get the best of both worlds – a still lagoon and waves from the ocean.
Distance from Brisbane: 1hr 30 minutes (drive)
3. Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)
Summer and Straddie go hand in hand, especially for holiday makers. And we don’t blame them – Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) is a choice spot for camping, beach time, and snorkelling it turns out.
Just off the Amity Point jetty, you’ll find rock walls which are home to schools of fish aplenty. You might even see dolphins and turtles.
Distance from Brisbane: 2hrs (drive + ferry)
4. Peel Island
Peel Island is one of those lesser-known spots you can escape to near Brisbane. That doesn’t make it any less stunning though. Quite the opposite. The island boasts natural beauty, with plenty of turtles, dugongs and dolphins frequenting the waters.
Horseshoe Bay and Platypus Bay are both perfect snorkelling spots on the island, with crystal-clear calm waters for swimming through. You can also check out the Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef to the north of Peel Island.
The only way to explore Peel Island is by booking a day tour or hiring your own boat.
Distance from Brisbane: 5hrs (day tour)
5. Gold Coast Seaway
The two rock walls at Gold Coast Seaway are great spots for snorkelling and diving. For snorkellers, it’s recommended to enter from the South Wall, where you’ll encounter a variety of fish and other sea creatures. You might even be lucky to spot a seahorse or eagle ray.
Around this area, you’ll also find Wonder Reef, the artificial sculpture dive site.
Distance from Brisbane: 1hr (drive)
6. Cook Island
Just off Fingal Headland in Northern New South Wales is the hidden beauty of Cook Island. To get to the island, you’ll need to book a snorkelling tour, which involves a 15-minute boat ride along the Tweed River.
The island is home to a large population of Green, Hawksbill & Loggerhead Turtles, so you’ll get to spot them as you swim. You could even see dolphins, clown fish, as well as humpback whales between June and November.
Distance from Brisbane: 1hr 45 minutes (drive + boat)
7. Point Arkwright, Coolum
Saving our last one for the advanced experience snorkellers, mainly due to the fact the currents at Point Arkwright on the Sunshine Coast can be quite strong at the cliffs, making the reef a bit of a mission to get to.
Those up for the challenge, though, will be rewarded with the sighting of a shallow reef, turtles, and more.
Distance from Brisbane: 1 hr 45 minutes (drive)
8. Narrowneck Reef, Surfer’s Paradise
Narrowneck Beach on the Gold Coast is home to an artificial reef just 100m from shore, where you can spot a colourful array of sea life, from starfish, sea cucumbers and soft coral to turtles, rays, octopus and even wobbegong sharks.
Since that Narrowneck Reef is positioned right on front of the beach’s lifeguard tower, it may help put your mind at ease when exploring the ocean.
Distance from Brisbane: 1 hr (drive)