Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach: Scuba Diving in Manly (2024)

Explore the mesmerizing world beneath the waves by scuba diving in Manly. Immerse yourself in an underwater paradise, discovering vibrant coral reefs, diverse marine life, and captivating shipwrecks. Discover the thrill of scuba diving in crystal-clear waters, surrounded by the natural beauty of Manly. Book your unforgettable scuba adventure today and dive into a world of wonder beneath the surface.

Shelly Beach is a well-known destination among both visitors and residents of Sydney. Renowned for its exceptional snorkelling and swimming opportunities during the summer season, the beach boasts stunning shades of blue and impressive visibility. Swim safely within designated areas marked by flags at Shelly Beach.

For those seeking a more tranquil experience, there’s a natural pool along the beach where you can leisurely swim and relax. This secluded spot offers a contained area to enjoy the breathtaking views of the ocean while taking a refreshing dip.

PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving in Manly

PIN for later reference - Scuba Diving in Manly
PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving in Manly

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About Manly

Manly, a coastal suburb nestled in the northern reaches of Sydney, is a haven for both locals and avid travellers like myself. As a solo female adventurer with a penchant for thrilling sports, Manly has always been a magnetic destination for its diverse offerings.

One of the highlights that every visitor to Sydney, especially those with a taste for adventure, should explore is the iconic Manly Beach. Renowned for its golden sands and vibrant atmosphere, Manly Beach is a paradise for surfers, sun-seekers, and water sports enthusiasts alike. The waves here are not just waves; they’re a call to an aquatic adventure that beckons you to embrace the sea.

For solo female travellers like me, Manly’s welcoming vibes are palpable. The bustling Corso, a pedestrian mall lined with shops, cafes, and boutiques, is the heart of the suburb. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite, shop for local crafts, or simply soak in the lively atmosphere.

If you’re a fan of adventurous water activities, Manly offers an array of options. From surfing lessons that cater to all skill levels to paddleboarding through serene waters, the beach provides an adrenaline-packed playground. As someone who revels in the thrill of trekking and scuba diving, I know that the coastal trails around Manly offer a perfect blend of scenic beauty and active exploration.

A short scenic stroll from Manly Beach leads you to the picturesque Shelly Beach, a gem that every adventure enthusiast must discover. The shades of blue and crystal-clear visibility make it a prime spot for snorkelling and swimming during the summer season. The sensation of floating amidst the vibrant marine life is unparalleled, creating memories that linger long after the adventure ends.

One distinctive feature of Shelly Beach is the natural pool that adds another layer to the overall experience. This tranquil enclave provides a contained area for swimming while offering awe-inspiring views of the expansive ocean. It’s a sanctuary where one can swim, chill by the beach, and revel in the symphony of waves and seagulls.

Numerous cafes and restaurants grace both Manly Beach and the wharf, offering a delectable array of cuisine to satisfy the discerning taste buds of all food enthusiasts.

Scuba Diving in Manly

Manly is not only renowned for its golden beaches and vibrant atmosphere but also for the diverse marine life that lurks beneath the surface. As someone who finds solace and excitement in the depths of the ocean, the scuba diving opportunities here are nothing short of extraordinary.

Manly’s scuba diving scene is a kaleidoscope of underwater wonders, each dive site offering a unique story to unfold. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner eager to explore the depths, the marine treasures of Manly promise an adventure that transcends the ordinary, leaving you with memories that linger long after you resurface.

  1. Shelly Beach: At the forefront of Manly’s scuba diving scene is the enchanting Shelly Beach. Its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life make it a haven for divers seeking an immersive experience. The underwater landscape here is teeming with colourful corals, and the visibility is often nothing short of spectacular. As you descend into the depths, you’ll encounter a mesmerizing array of marine creatures, from curious rays gliding gracefully to schools of tropical fish creating a living tapestry beneath the surface.
  2. Fairy Bower: Just off Shelly Beach lies Fairy Bower, a dive site renowned for its underwater sculptures and intriguing rock formations. As a solo adventurer, exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of this site is an exhilarating experience. The underwater sculptures, such as the famous “Shark Fin,” add an artistic dimension to the dive, creating a surreal atmosphere that’s both thrilling and awe-inspiring.
  3. North Head Sanctuary: For those seeking a more advanced diving experience, the underwater cliffs of North Head Sanctuary offer a unique and challenging dive site. The underwater topography features dramatic drop-offs and crevices, providing a habitat for an array of marine life. Drift along the submerged cliffs, and you might encounter schools of pelagic fish and the occasional majestic shark, making it a dive that pushes the boundaries of adventure.
  4. The ‘Adelaide’ Wreck: Delving into maritime history, the ‘Adelaide’ wreck off the shores of Manly is a captivating dive site. The sunken ship rests on the ocean floor, creating an artificial reef teeming with marine flora and fauna. Navigating through the skeletal remains of the ship offers a unique glimpse into the past, and the marine life that has made this wreck its home adds an extra layer of intrigue to the dive.
  5. Long Reef: For a blend of underwater landscapes, Long Reef is a versatile dive site catering to both novice and experienced divers. Explore vibrant sponge gardens, swim through rocky caves, and encounter a diverse range of marine life, from seahorses to majestic eagle rays. The variety of environments within a single dive site makes it a favourite among those seeking a dynamic and immersive underwater experience.

Where is Shelly Beach?

Nestled within the Manly suburb of Sydney, Shelly Beach is one of Sydney’s best beaches and lies approximately 1 kilometre away from the renowned Manly Beach. This coastal gem finds itself within the embrace of the Cabbage Tree Bay Marine Reserve, a designated protected area. Frequented by enthusiasts of snorkelling and swimming, Shelly Beach tends to draw a bustling crowd due to its popularity as a prime destination for these water activities.

Scuba Diving at Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach, nestled just a stone’s throw away from the bustling Manly Beach, unveils a vibrant aquatic world that is a diver’s paradise. The azure hues of the ocean and the unparalleled visibility create a surreal backdrop for an underwater escapade. For someone like me, who seeks both thrill and tranquillity beneath the waves, Shelly Beach has proven to be a hidden gem.

The underwater terrain at Shelly Beach boasts a diverse marine ecosystem, making it an ideal spot for divers of all levels. Whether you’re a novice eager to take your first plunge or an experienced diver seeking a new challenge, the dive sites here cater to a spectrum of skill sets. The gentle currents and clear waters enhance the overall diving experience, allowing enthusiasts to explore the underwater realm with ease.

How to Get to Shelly Beach?

By Road

The distance between Sydney Central Business District (CBD)/city and Shelly Beach is approximately 18 kilometres, requiring roughly a one-hour drive. Ample parking, albeit at a cost, is available at Manly Beach, serving as a convenient option for those arriving by car. It’s worth noting, though, that Manly Beach experiences significant crowding, especially on sunny days and weekends.

By Public Transport

Manly Wharf stands as the nearest public transport hub for reaching Shelly Beach. Two accessible public transport options lead to Manly Wharf:

  • Bus – Regular bus services (Bus numbers 136, 143, and 144) connect Chatswood and Manly Wharf.
  • Ferry – For a scenic journey, opt for a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf, offering a picturesque route from the city.
  • For the latest and most accurate information, it’s advisable to check with Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW).

Dive Site at Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach presents numerous dive opportunities for enthusiasts. During a day organised by the dive centre, a double dive unfolded, offering distinct experiences. In the initial dive, we navigated towards the right side of the beach, with rocks flanking our right side. The subsequent dive led us to the left side of the beach.

Despite the dive instructor highlighting the second dive’s enhanced underwater attractions, my preference leaned toward the first dive. The serene ambience allowed for a more relaxed exploration, and I encountered a plethora of captivating sights. Noteworthy features at Shelly Beach include the submerged motorbike (marked as point 8 on the map below), along with encounters with rays, Wobbegong sharks, and Port Jackson sharks.

Map of the dive at Shelly beach
Map of the dive sites in Shelly Beach; Source: Dive Centre Manly.

Best Time to Dive in Shelly Beach

Optimal diving conditions at Shelly Beach align with the Spring (September to November) and Summer (December to February) seasons. During these periods, the water becomes pleasantly warm, creating an enjoyable experience for divers. The water temperature typically ranges between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, providing an ideal environment for underwater exploration.

Logistics of Dive in Shelly Beach

  • Type of Dive: Shore dive.
  • Dive site: Open (Sea).
  • Depth: 10 to 12 metres.
  • Visibility: approximately around 5 metres.
  • Ideal for: All level divers including the beginners.
  • Wet suit: Yes (5 mm thickness), advised. The Australian waters are a bit chilly.
  • Current: Usually calm, even though we did get a very mild current when we dived.

Marine Life at Shelly Beach

The marine life at Shelly Beach is truly spectacular, and it’s no surprise that it captivates everyone who visits. The underwater world here boasts an abundance of rays, Wobbegong sharks, Port Jackson sharks, and even blue-ringed octopuses. Some divers at the centre also shared sightings of Grey Nurse Sharks in the vicinity.

Little ray at Shelly beach
Ray at Shelly Beach

For an optimal diving experience, the morning hours before lunch are considered the best time to explore Shelly Beach. However, due to the richness of marine life, intriguing discoveries can be made throughout the day. The underwater spectacle becomes even more fascinating during sunsets, offering divers a unique and enchanting perspective on Shelly Beach’s vibrant aquatic ecosystem.

Dive Centre and Cost

  • Dive Centre: Dive Centre Manly.
  • Address: 10 Belgrave St, Manly NSW 2095.
  • Cost: At Dive Centre Manly, acquiring a membership comes at a fee of AUD 100. Upon becoming a member, certified divers can enjoy complimentary shore dives as part of the membership benefits.
  • Equipment: The equipment can be hired and the hiring of equipment (full gear) cost me AUD 95 (for members).
  • Booking: On their website. Booking is a straightforward process, and equipment selection for hire can be made at their shop on the day of the dive.
The group at Shelly beach
The group at Shelly Beach posing for a picture before heading for the second dive

The staff at Dive Centre Manly is exceptionally friendly, creating a fantastic diving experience within the group. The presence of a skilled dive instructor and a proficient dive master during both dives added to the overall excellence of the adventure.

A valuable tip for fellow divers: double-check your weights before embarking on the dive. In my case, an oversight led to being over-weighted during my second dive, resulting in a challenging underwater experience. It served as a significant lesson, emphasizing the importance of precise weight management for a smoother and more enjoyable dive.

The Dive Centre Manly stood out in terms of equipment quality, surpassing my experiences with other dive centers. I highly recommend choosing them for your diving adventures.

A helpful note: Plan to arrive at the Dive Centre shop in Manly in the morning. The accommodating staff will then transport you, along with the necessary equipment, to the dive starting point at Shelly Beach.

Weed at Shelly beach in Sydney
Weed at the start of the dive

Is Manly or Shelly Beach Safe for Solo Female Divers?

Adhering to a fundamental guideline, it’s essential to have a dive buddy accompanying you during dives. Prioritize partnering with another diver before exploring any dive sites. Nevertheless, when opting for a reputable dive school or centre, you can trust in their commitment to safety. Before making a selection, take the time to read reviews about the dive school to ensure a reliable and secure experience.

For solo female travellers, travelling to and from the dive site is generally considered safe. However, as with any destination worldwide, exercise caution and remain aware of your surroundings. Being vigilant adds an extra layer of assurance to your journey.

After a dive at Shelly beach
A happy face after the two dives at Shelly Beach

Closing Notes

Scuba Diving in Manly or Shelly Beach unquestionably lived up to the hype. The mesmerising marine life, featuring numerous sharks and rays, left me in awe. Without a doubt, I plan to dive here again, and next time, I’ll make sure to bring along a better camera to capture the stunning underwater scenery.

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Shelly Beach: Scuba Diving in Manly (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving in Manly

    Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney
    PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving in Manly