Diving at Shelly beach, Sydney

Everyone who visits and lives in Sydney has probably heard of Shelly beach. It is one of the most famous beaches to snorkel or swim in the summer season. The shades of blue and the visibility are absolutely amazing at the Shelly beach. There are flags where one can just swim at Shelly beach.

There is also a natural pool where one can swim and chill by the beach and this provides a contained area to swim and look at the spectacular views of the ocean.

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Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney
PIN for later reference – Diving at Shelly beach in Sydney
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Where is Shelly beach?

Shelly beach is in the suburb of Manly in Sydney, about 1 kilometre from the Manly beach. It is part of a protected marine reserve called Cabbage Tree Bay. The Shelly beach is extremely crowded as it is a very popular spot for snorkeling and swimming.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants at the Manly beach and wharf where one can have delicious food and it caters for all food lovers.

How to get to Shelly beach?


The distance between Sydney Central Business District (CBD)/city and Shelly beach is about 18 kilometres (around 1-hour drive). There is ample parking (with cost) at the Manly beach where one can park their cars. However, the Manly beach is extremely crowded on a sunny day and at weekends.

Public transport

Manly Wharf is the closest public transport stop to get to Shelly beach. There are two ways to get to the Manly Wharf via public transport.

  • Bus – There are frequent buses (Bus numbers 136, 143, and 144) between Chatswood and Manly Wharf.
  • Ferry – A picturesque way of getting to Manly Wharf from the city is by taking a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf.
  • More up-to-date information can be found on Transport for NSW.

Dive Site at Shelly Beach

There are plenty of opportunities/sites to dive at Shelly beach. The dive centre had organised for a double dive during the day. In the first dive, we swam towards the right side of the beach with the rocks on our right. And on our second dive, we dived towards the left side of the beach. Even though the dive instructor mentioned that the second dive was more fascinating with more things to see underwater, I enjoyed the first dive. I felt more relaxed during my first dive and I saw plenty of things. Some of the things to look for in Shelly beach are the motorbike underwater (point 8 in the below map), Rays, Wobbegong sharks, and Port Jackson sharks.

The best season to dive in Shelly beach is during the Spring (between September and November) and Summer (between December and February) seasons as the water is warm and enjoyable. The water temperature ranges from 16 degrees to 20 degrees.

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


  • 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

The marine life is absolutely amazing at Shelly beach and no wonder everyone goes gaga over the Shelly beach. There are lots of rays, Wobbegong sharks, Port Jackson sharks, and blue-ringed octopuses. Some people at the dive centre also mentioned that they had seen Grey Nurse Sharks at the site.

The best time to dive at Shelly beach is in the morning before lunch. However, the marine life is so abundant that I have been told that interesting things can be spotted throughout the day and it gets more interesting during sunsets.

Little ray at Shelly beach
Ray at Shelly beach

Dive Centre and Cost

  • Dive Centre: Dive Centre Manly.
  • Address: 10 Belgrave St, Manly NSW 2095.
  • Cost: Dive Centre Manly has a membership that costs AUD 100. Once you become a member, the shore dive become free for certified divers.
  • Equipment: The equipment can be hired and the hiring of equipment (full gear) cost me AUD 95 (for members).
  • Booking: On their website. The booking is easy and the equipment hire can is selected at their shop on the day of dive.

The staff is very friendly and I had a great time diving with the group. There was a dive instructor and a dive master who had joined us for both the dives. Both were absolutely fantastic.

Note: Ensure to check your weights correctly before heading for the dive. I was over-weighted and it was my terrible mistake during my second dive. I found it so hard to swim underwater with those extra weights. A big lesson learned during these dives.

The group at Shelly beach
The group at Shelly beach posing for a picture before heading for the second dive

The quality of their equipment was much better when compared to the other dive centres I have dived with. I definitely suggest diving with them.

Note: One needs to get to the dive centre shop at Manly in the morning and the staff will drive you to the dive start point (Shelly beach) with the equipment.

Is it safe for solo female divers?

As a general rule, one always needs to have a dive buddy while diving. So, always buddy up with another diver before diving at one of the sites. However, if you are going with a reputed dive school or a dive centre, then rest be assured that you will be safe. Ensure to read through the reviews of the dive school before selecting one.

Traveling to and from the dive site is extremely safe for solo female travelers. But like any other place around the World, be cautious and know your surroundings.

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

Closing notes

Diving at Shelly beach was definitely worth the hype. The marine life found here was absolutely mind-blowing with so many sharks and the rays. I will definitely dive here again and ensure I take a better camera to take pictures.

If you have a bad camera too like me, then it’s probably best to change to a good one. Have a look at different options by clicking below link:

Explore various cameras

For the other diving sites in Sydney, refer Diving in Australia section.

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

PIN for later reference

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney
PIN for later reference – Diving at Shelly beach in Sydney

21 thoughts on “Diving at Shelly beach, Sydney”

  1. Looks like fun! I haven’t been to Australia yet but this looks like a place I need to check out. One of these days, I want to get up the courage to do some overseas solo travel. I will be retired before my husband, and I don’t intend on sitting at home!

  2. What an experience! I’ve been wanting to dive there, too. I just heard that Internet is not that good there? I am a digital nomad and I need to work at certain times of the day and most of my friends told me that Internet doesn’t really work here? Should I schedule this as a real holiday and not work at all? What’s your advice? Thanks in advance!

  3. Beach always give a soothing experience, and diving is surely a great one too. Your posts has so detailed information for one ro.plan a trip. If I ever visit Australia, then this blog would be my checklist for all things.

  4. We went to Manly Beach and enjoyed the beach. But I did not know there was scuba diving in the area. We sent scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. But did not think about areas around Sydney like this. We would certainly want to see the sharks and the blue ringed octopus. One for my list when we return to Sydney!

  5. Wow, this sounds awesome, thrilling and one of its kind of experience. I loved the presence of varied marine life. Your blog made me wish to visit Australia and explore all this.

  6. Shelly Beach sounds like a really good and safe place for diving. Of course, it is really important that the company with whom you are diving is professional and good, as you have mentioned it is always good to check up on them. The diving experience and the marine life sound really beautiful at Shelly Beach.

  7. How cool that you can go diving in just about an hour drive! Or, you can even reach the place by public transportation. You look so happy when you are done with the dive. What is motorbike? A motorbike down under or a coral that looks like a motorbike?

  8. I haven’t been to Australia yet but it’s up there on the list. This sounds like a great location to add on the list of places to visit. And the diving sounds like a great experience.

  9. This sounds like so much fun! I haven’t been to Australia yet, but Shelly Beach sounds like it would be a must. I also have been diving, I am working on building up the courage to do it. I have gone snorkeling a few times and enjoyed it, so diving seems like it would be that much better. Seeing all of that marine life must have been quite the experience!

  10. What a fun experience of diving at the Shelly beach! Diving is always a delight, with the rich marine life on offer transporting one to another world, but the fact that this beach is safe, accessible and has sharks & octopuses seem to be an added plus!


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