Shelly Cove right at the end of Bunker Point feels enclosed and secluded. It’s a pretty little bay facing north-east, dotted with granite rocks and reefs in the water, and towered over by a tall limestone cliff on one side.
In the morning it’s a pleasant, peaceful place for a swim or snorkel, but later in the day when the sun is low in the western sky, it turns shadowy and dramatic.
I find Shelly Cove to be a very atmospheric place – almost spooky sometimes.
Discover the Interesting Sand That Gives Shelly Cove its Name
Shelly Cove has very coarse-grained, colourful sand made up of small rounded pebbles, whole shells and large shell fragments.
Sifting through it with your hands you can find some pretty shells, and seaglass too.
Small Waves, Calm Water
The landmass of Cape Naturaliste and the north-facing orientation of Shelly Cove shelters it from most winds and waves.
On most days the water at Shelly Cove is nice and calm, if a little bit surgy at times. It’s good safe spot for swimming and snorkelling when the water is calm.
However, there is a chance that Shelly Cove will be a little wavy when you visit. This usually occurs when a weather system is coming in from the north, or at times when the Indian Ocean swells are massive and powerful enough to angle around the landmass of Cape Naturaliste.
Shelly Cove has a lot of submerged rocks, so don’t go swimming there when it’s wavy.
Snorkeling at Shelly Cove, Dunsborough
Shelly Cove is an interesting snorkelling spot. To start with, the water is yellowish in colour due to plankton in the water. But don’t let that put you off… it’s perfectly clean.
The granite reefs and rocks form an interesting underwater landscape to swim through. The seafloor is strewn with pebbles, and there’s lots and lots of seaweed.
Out the back there is a deep drop-off, that I must admit makes me a bit nervous about sharks, especially knowing there’s a seal colony not far away (although I tend to be paranoid about these things).
Fish-life in Shelly Cove is plentiful, especially when you really take the time to look amongst the rocks and seaweed. Stripeys, bream, old wives and scalyfins are everywhere, even in the shallows close to the beach.
Last time I snorkelled there, it was late in the day and windy so I didn’t swim out as far as usual. Unfortunately the photos didn’t turn out so well, so I’ll have to try again next summer!
Where to Snorkel in Shelly Cove:
When conditions are good, I recommend taking some time to explore the cove, and snorkelling all the way out behind the outermost rocks, where it gets very deep.
If it’s windy or at all wavy, you risk getting knocked about on the rocks and reefs, which are very close together in places and difficult to navigate in swirling, surgy water! I prefer not swimming out far in those conditions, even if the water clarity is still good enough.
Walks and picnics at Shelly Cove
Shelly Cove is a wonderful spot for a picnic. It’s well-sheltered from the southerly and westerly winds, has plenty of shade, beautiful views and lots of places to walk to and things to do nearby.
Just behind the beach, a copse of teatrees shelter a couple of picnic benches.
If you follow the walk trail to the north, it will lead you up onto the hill above the cliffs overlooking Shelly Cove.
A network of tracks lead to lookouts, a New Zealand fur seal colony, the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, and the western side of Cape Naturaliste (the Other Side of the Moon and the Cape Naturaliste Pinnacles).
Where is Shelly Cove and how do you get there?
Shelly Cove is right at the very end of Bunker Bay Road, on the eastern (Bunker Point) side of Cape Naturaliste.
It’s very close to Bunker Bay and the resort there, but the closest large town is Dunsborough. To get to Shelly Cove from Dunsborough, head north out of town along Cape Naturaliste Road, then turn right onto Bunker Bay Road and keep going past the resort right to the very end, where the road ends at a carpark on Bunker Point just behind Shelly Cove.
View Shelly Cove at Bunker Point in a larger map
Last Updated: 15th June, 2014.
First posted on 12th October, 2013 by Bonny.
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