Snorkelling at Bushrangers Bay

Scuba Diving in Shell Harbour: Explore The Gutter (2024)

Explore the depths of excitement with scuba diving Shellharbour! Dive into the vibrant underwater world off the coast of this picturesque destination. Uncover the beauty of the ocean with crystal-clear visibility, encountering marine wonders that will leave you awe-inspired.

Hands down, my most memorable dive in New South Wales (NSW) was at The Gutter. During my Light to Light walk, a fellow hiker who had completed her PADI Open water course at Shell Harbour highly recommended this stunning location for a dive, particularly with the Grey Nurse Sharks. Despite the elusive sharks not appearing, the underwater world revealed an abundance of other mesmerizing sights that have become cherished memories for a lifetime.

Diving at The Gutter, Shell Harbour
Diving at The Gutter, Shell Harbour

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PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving Shellharbour

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Where is The Gutter?

The Gutter is the go-to dive spot in the Bass Point Reserve, Shell Harbour. Perfect for divers of all skill levels, this site offers a bit of protection from the swell. A safe and easy entry at just 3 meters ensures a secure diving experience for everyone.

Situated in the Illawarra region of NSW, Shell Harbour is swiftly emerging as a sought-after holiday destination on the South Coast. The city is increasingly drawing visitors for weekends and vacations, positioned just after Wollongong on the route to Kiama.

Diving at The Gutter, Shell Harbour
Entry and exit points of the dive site

How to Get to Shell Harbour?

By Road

The distance from Sydney Central Business District (CBD) to Shell Harbour is approximately 105 kilometres, taking about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car.

  • Please be aware: Street parking is available in the city centre. Shell Harbour tends to get quite crowded, especially during weekends.

The distance from Shell Harbour CBD to the car parking space at The Gutter is approximately 4 kilometres, requiring a 7-minute drive.

  • Please note: Approximately 2 kilometres of the route involves driving on a dirt road.
Diving at The Gutter, Shell Harbour
Dirt road

By Public Transport

Getting to Shell Harbour from Central Train Station in Sydney is a straightforward journey involving train and bus transportation.

  • Train – Board a train from Central train station to Wollongong train station, the nearest to Shell Harbour. The train ride takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Bus – From Wollongong, take bus number 53 to reach Shell Harbour. The bus journey lasts around 40 minutes.
  • For the most current information on bus routes and schedules, refer to Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW).
  • Payment for public transport in Sydney can be conveniently made using credit/debit cards or Opal transportation cards.

It’s important to note that no public transportation is available from Shell Harbour to the car parking at The Gutter. Walking is a feasible option in this case.

Scuba Diving Shellharbour: Dive Site at The Gutter

Despite the somewhat gloomy and cloudy weather, the underwater visibility during the dive was truly remarkable, spanning approximately 8 to 10 meters. The entry point into the dive site is at a shallow 3 meters, leading divers to swim a short distance to the main attraction, the 10-meter rock, where the actual dive commences. The site is characterized by an intriguing mix of weed and sand, transforming into a mesmerizing world of coral reefs as one ventures deeper into the ocean.

The coral reefs, adorned in a kaleidoscope of colours, present a breathtaking spectacle. Vibrant hues paint the underwater landscape, creating an enchanting and diverse marine environment. Despite the initial appearance of weed and sand, the beauty of the coral reefs unfolds as a hidden gem beneath the ocean’s surface.

Snorkelling at Bushrangers Bay

It’s crucial to note that The Gutter dive site lacks nearby cafes, emphasizing the importance of bringing your own food and water to ensure a well-prepared and enjoyable diving experience. Additionally, a cautionary reminder is issued to divers regarding their fins; extra care is necessary to avoid unintentional contact with and potential damage to the delicate coral reefs. Preserving the natural beauty of the underwater ecosystem is a shared responsibility for all diving enthusiasts.


  • Type of Dive: Shore dive.
    • The dive site is conveniently located just a brief 100 meters from the car park. The short walk to the site involves navigating rocky terrain, so exercise caution when carrying your gear.
    • Despite the rocky entry point, accessing the site proves surprisingly easy.
    • For an enhanced diving experience, remember to bring along a torch. This invaluable tool is essential for spotting micro marine life, ensuring you don’t miss the intricate and fascinating details of the underwater world.
  • Dive site: Open (Sea).
  • Depth: 20 to 30 metres.
  • Visibility: The visibility during my dive was exceptionally clear, perhaps the best I have experienced in NSW. It’s important to note that ocean conditions and weather primarily influence visibility.
  • Ideal for: Suitable for divers of all levels, including beginners, but be cautious during high tides as the entry and exit points may pose a bit of a challenge.
  • Wet suit: It is recommended to wear a 7 mm thickness wetsuit. The waters in Australia, especially around Sydney, can be a bit chilly.
  • Current: During my dive, there was absolutely no current. However, it’s crucial to be aware that currents can lead to fatigue.


Public toilets are conveniently located across from the car park. However, please be aware that there are no changing rooms. Visitors must either change in their vehicles or behind the closed toilets.

  • Important to note: The toilets may have an unpleasant odour at times.

Marine Life

The marine life at the dive site is both abundant and stunning, featuring a diverse array of creatures. From numerous octopuses, some even carrying eggs, to groper, goat fishes, and the mesmerizing weedy sea dragon, the underwater world offers a captivating spectacle.

For an optimal diving experience, mornings are recommended. During this time, there is less crowding, allowing for a more immersive encounter with the marine life, and the visibility is notably improved.

Dive Centre and Cost

  • Dive Centre: Shellharbour Scuba and Photography.
  • Address: 41 Addison Street, Shellharbour, NSW 2529.
  • Cost: A guided shore dive, including full gear and one Nitrox tank, is priced at just AUD 93. I opted for the Nitrox tank during my dive. It’s important to mention that the dive centre provides the gear, including tanks, and handles the transportation to and from the dive site.
  • Rented equipment: One Nitrox tank, BCD, weights, a regulator, 7 mm wet suit, fins, and boots.
  • Booking: No reservation is required for the guided tour. Arrive at the dive centre by 8:30 AM, and you can join the divers heading to the dive site. The dive crew departs from the dive centre at 9 AM, so arrive before that if you wish to join them.

I had an amazing experience with Shellharbour Scuba and Photography Dive Centre. The dive staff, Mick and Michela, were truly exceptional. I haven’t encountered such skillful and friendly dive guides in NSW, except for Karleen and Malcolm during my dive at Camp Cove.

  • The cost of a shore dive at this centre is incredibly budget-friendly compared to other dive centres. The guided tour is complimentary, and divers only need to cover the equipment hire costs.
  • The dive crew is incredibly approachable and friendly, making the experience enjoyable. I can’t express enough how much I loved their service and highly recommend diving with this fantastic team.
  • Not only were the dive staff impressive, but the other regular divers were also very nice. They took great care of the new divers, adding to the positive and welcoming atmosphere of the dive centre.
Diving at The Gutter, Shell Harbour

Is Scuba Diving at Shell Harbour Safe for Solo Female Divers?

In the realm of scuba diving, it’s a standard practice to always have a diving buddy, and for beginners like myself, diving with an instructor is the ideal choice. It’s advisable to buddy up with someone more experienced than you. When diving with a reputable dive center, there’s no need for concern as the center ensures safety measures are in place.

Shell Harbour is known for being exceptionally safe, with friendly locals. However, exercising caution is prudent, as is knowing your surroundings, particularly during nighttime, as one would in any city.

Closing Notes

Eager to revisit Shell Harbour for another dive, I am keen on exploring additional sites in the vicinity, with a particular interest in Bushrangers Bay renowned for its captivating grey nurse sharks. The prospect of discovering more underwater wonders in this region is enticing and promises another exhilarating diving experience.

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Scuba Diving in Shell Harbour: Explore The Gutter (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving Shellharbour

    PIN for later reference - Scuba Diving Shellharbour
    PIN for later reference – Scuba Diving Shellharbour