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DIVE CENTRE MANLY'S DIVE SITES The beautiful places we go diving - including Sydney's only Marine Reserve

Where are the best places to go diving in Sydney?

Sydney offers some outstanding dive sites with an amazing range of marine life. Dive Centre Manly is perfectly positioned to easily access these places either from the shore or by boat.

Shore Dive Sites

Shelly Beach

The only beach on the east coast of Australia to face west, Shelly Beach occupies a scenic corner of Manly’s ocean beachfront. White sand and a natural reef of tumbled boulders and rocks descending to a maximum depth of 12 metres make this one of Sydney’s premier shore diving sites.

The marine life includes regular sightings of Wobbegong sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Dusky Whaler Sharks, large Eastern Blue Groper, Wrasse, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Kingfish, Porcupine Fish, Blennys, and much, much more. For beginners and experienced divers alike, a guided shore dive at Shelly Beach with Dive Centre Manly is an experience that will long be remembered.


Fairy Bower

Situated between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach and part of the Cabbage Tree Bay marine reserve, Fairy Bower is one of Sydney’s most convenient dive sites.

The depth ranges from 7 to about 10 metres and numerous species of marine life can be spotted here, such as Moray Eels, Wobbegong sharks, Port Jackson sharks, Fiddler Rays, Short-tailed Electric Rays, colourful Nudibranchs as well as the resident Cuttlefish, Octopus, and Blue Gropers. This site can be dived any time except in strong N or NE winds or swells.



Another relaxing shore dive, Fairlight boasts a wide range of resident sealife – Old Wives, Stripeys, Leatherjackets, Bream, Sea Pike and the ocassional Eagle Ray are all found here. Fairlight also has a huge variety of Nudibranchs and exotic fish species so swim slowly and keep your eyes out for the unusual. An easy beach entry with a short surface swim will take you to the 5 to 7 metre drop off. Here you will find small overhangs, the wreck of a small fishing boat and some great gullys.

Being inside the harbour visibility ranges from 5 to 10 metres. The maximum depth on this site is approx 12 metres at high tide. Fairlight is one of Sydney’s best night dives, where all the critters come out to play. This site can be dived anytime except during strong S of SE winds or swells.



Located next to Freshwater Pool, this is an excellent shore dive for the more experienced open water diver. The depth ranges from 8 to 14 metres with a terrain consisting of boulders, overhangs, crevices and sponges. There are Wobbegong Sharks, huge Blue Gropers, Weedy Sea Dragons, Leatherjackets, occasional schools of Kingfish, Octopus and Morwongs. Due to strong currents and rip tides, this dive should only be attempted by experienced divers. Dive in W or NE winds and no swell, never attempt with a southerly wind or swell.


Chowder Bay

Located about a 15 minute drive from the store, Chowder Bay (also known as Clifton Gardens) is an excellent macro dive site. Local residents include critters such as; Seahorse, Anglerfish, Cuttlefish, Squid, Octopus, Pygmy Leatherjacket, Crabs and loads of Nudibranchs. Due to this dive site being located within the harbour, visibility varies from 5 to 10 metres. Dive in almost any conditions except after periods of heavy rain.


Boat Dive Sites

The Apartments | Orange Level Trip

A beautiful wall and valley dive situated off Long Reef. Drop down to approximately 16 metres and follow the wall along before entering a valley swarming with Pomfrets.

As the Pomfrets clear, you can see Old Wives, Cuttlefish, Nudibranchs and Red Rock Cod at the main flat of this site at approximately 21 metres. This site also has a couple of beautiful swim throughs decorated with colourful hard corals – one not to be missed.


Inner and Outer Colours | Orange Level Trip

Two very interesting locations situated about a kilometre and a half offshore from the signal station at North Head. They are both about 30 metres in depth, boulder strewn with three different distinct drop offs, each one a little deeper than the other. There are small gullies, hideaways, caves and long trenches. Both reefs have a good mixture of sea life.

Fish are plentiful with most small southern species, along with a number of Six-banded Coral Fish, many different species of Leatherjackets, Wrasse, Old Wives, Black-banded Sea Perch, Red Gurnard, Scorpion fish, Rock Cod and lots of Sergeant Bakers. Millions of Sea Whips and White Anemones decorate the deeper sections, whilst mid-range, the usual Sponges, Gorgonians and Sea Fans dominate.


The Gap | Green Level Trip

The Gap dive site is a fantastic deep wall dive. Depth of water ranges up to 23 metres. For the first 18 metres, the dive location is constructed of giant boulders. Beyond this depth to the sand line at 23 metres are numerous patches of kelp and colourful corals. Larger fish inhabit the dive location such as pairs of Old Wives, Red Banded Sea Perch, Rosy Wrasse, one or two Blue-throated Wrasse as well as our unique Weedy Sea Dragons. Clarity of the water averages about 10 to 15 metres.


South Head Sponge Gardens | Green Level Trip

The Sponge Gardens at South Head are a colourful mixture of sponges, sea fans, beautiful red gorgonians and fish of many species associated with Sydney Harbour.

The dive location also has a number of interesting caves, drop-offs and large boulders. When diving, it is important to surface as close to the boat as possible when terminating the dive.


Outer Bluefish and Inner Bluefish Reef | Green Level Trip

These two dive locations are close to one another and very similar in structure and fish life. Outer Bluefish Reef is about 25 metres deep and its structural formation consists of large boulders, small drop-offs, a number of small overhangs and swim throughs.

Inner Bluefish Reef is a location dived generally when sea conditions are less than pleasant. It is tucked back behind a protruding headland and therefore protected from mild southerly winds.

Underwater, the reef is approximately 18 metres deep, and there are patches of kelp, small groups of sponges, large boulders and some small caves with loads of large fish, Wobbegong sharks and Port Jackson Sharks. General visibility at this site is approximately 5 to 10 metres.


Old Mans Hat | Green Level Trip

Old Mans Hat is situated inside Sydney Harbour on North Head coming towards Manly. This spot is a great dive suitable for beginners, where the maximum depth is approximately 18 metres. Old Mans Hat is a rocky reef with colourful sponge gardens, walls and overhangs.

You’ll find a range of Nudibranchs, Wobbegong and Port Jackson sharks, Blue Groper and schools of Pomfrets. Living in harmony with the gardens are many Blue and Brown Groper, Mosaic Leatherjackets and lots of schooling fish. Visibility ranges from 10 to 15 metres.


The Waterfall | Green Level Trip

This rocky sponge-covered reef runs from Outer North Head to Old Mans Hat. Food and shelter are plentiful for the many marine creatures of all colours, shapes and sizes that exist on this outstanding reef. Many brightly coloured sponges grow on this extended reef, and it is one of the most extensive undersea reefs along the Sydney Harbour shoreline.

The beautiful natural sub-sea garden where red, green, grey and yellow sponges cover large boulders, cannot help but to astound the most critical diver. Graceful sea fans sway back and forth in the gentle surge of harbour currents, organ pipe corals, large yellow barrel honeycomb and flat encrusting sponges decorate the reef in an amazing array of brilliant rainbow tones.

The depth of Waterfall ranges from 7 metres down a boulder-strewn reef, to approximately 26 metres terminating at a sandy sea bed. The best time to dive the sponge gardens is when north to north east winds are blowing.