Fact one: Bare Island was used as the set for the finale of Mission Impossible II. Fact two: the old fortress-slash-island is also one of the most exciting snorkelling spots in Sydney. It's suitable for beginners to advanced snorkellers, so you can take your own "mission" to explore the waters around the island and the surrounding reefs. Expect to see sand rays, nudibranchs (a shell-less sea snail), colourful sponge life – and maybe even the resident turtle.
When James Cook pulled his boat into Botany Bay, he probably had little idea of the teeming world of under-da-sea-life beneath his feet (Banks probably had a better idea). This site, located just inside the National Park, has a rocky entry – so is suitable for intermediate snorkellers – but there's a lot to see, including Sydney's Weedy Sea Dragon.
Snorkel Safari assures us this is a great site for all the family as it's safe and protected in most conditions. There is easy entry and exit from the concrete steps near the Surf Club and when you get in and around the weed beds, overhangs and reefs, tonnes of good-looking marine life. Bluey the famous blue groper is sadly departed (may it rest in peace), but you can still spot his cousins, plus octopi, moray eels and schooling fish. For a sense of adventure: try it at night.
This Cronulla park and pool is popular for snorkelling and scuba diving for beginners through to experienced. Enter on the right-hand side of the pool and snorkel along the arc-shaped wall – there are overhangs and crevices to explore. You'll likely find yourself followed by a friendly groper, and spot some cuttlefish and crayfish. It's always an interesting site.
North of the Harbour, Shelly Beach in Manly is a protected haven for marine life. It's a gorgeous location, safe for all the family and there is easy beach entry and exit. Snorkel Safari suggests you snorkel the reef to the right-hand side of the beach, or enter at the boat ramp and snorkel along following the walkway towards the fairy bower and back. The clear waters make this site a must-do for all Sydney snorkellers.