We have picked up a new hobby: Snorkeling.
As I mentioned in a previous Friday Favorites post, a dream of mine would be to go scuba diving in French Polynesia. Seeing that I have never dived in my life, and probably couldn’t meet the swim requirements to be certified anytime soon, Ben and I decided to take up snorkeling instead. Baby steps you know?
After lots of research, and despite the oncoming chilly weather we decided it was time to dive into snorkeling.
We headed down the coast stopping at a sport and camping goods store to purchase our gear. We found snorkel sets for $50 each and figured purchasing now instead of renting would be a better option for us. The shop clerks gave us funny looks as we shopped, but we assumed it was just because we were so excited about finally having a beautiful day to snorkel… in reality, Ben had a giant rip in his pants – I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically (and take a photo) when we realized. The hole only got worse from here…
Our first snorkeling adventure began at Swansea Channel just forty minutes South of Newcastle, this was a great spot for us beginners as the water was calm, and we didn’t worry as much about sharks as we would when swimming in the open ocean. The water was also incredibly clear so we were able to see all of the fish swimming with us.
** If you read warning signs around the park you will know there is the potential for sharks in the channel – use caution when snorkeling**
We parked on Coon Island and attempted to enter the water where all the jagged rocks were. Ben made it in without a scratch; I on the other hand still have cuts on my feet from the rocks three weeks later! After slicing both feet open I was pretty set on giving up this new hobby and taking up a new one called “snorkeler watching,” but Ben convinced me to make one more go at snorkeling before hanging up my fins, and thank goodness for that!
On our second attempt at entering the water we walked around to the boat hire near Thomas Humphreys Reserve. The sand is much softer there and we were able to get deep enough in the water without having to worry about rocks.
After a great second attempt at entering the water we enjoyed an afternoon of snorkeling near the seawall exploring all of the coral and fishes that call the Swansea Channel home. Next up on the agenda is researching what fishes we actually saw that day.
As we finished up in the water a family of pelicans stopped by to say hello, but this little guy hung around for a while just cruising the water as the sun began to set.
We drove to the Takeaway Shop on Belmont street and grabbed Fish and Chips and a package of cookies from Woolworths before heading back to the park for a picnic.
We took our picnic, which included fish and chips, pluto pups, fried pineapple, and fish sandwiches to the opposite side of Thomas Humphreys Park, just behind the holiday park and watched the sun set on Lake Macquarie.
We could not eat it all.
Oh – and those cookies we bought – Arnotts Premier Chocolate Chip Biscuits… they taste like Chips Ahoy, but better! I am addicted!
Check out the image gallery for more photos from Swansea.
Overall, snorkeling at Swansea Channel was a great spot for us as beginner snorkelers since the water was calm, and there were plenty of fish to see. The channel does get busy on clear days and holidays (we drove past on Good Friday) so if you plan on snorkeling during peak hours or holidays use caution in deeper water.
We have also been told that just under the Pacific Hwy. Bridge is a great place to snorkel in Swansea. We plan on making that our next snorkeling destination.