The coral reefs offshore from the baby reef shark nursery in Skeleton Bay make for a nice easy snorkel within walking distance of Coral Bay town that’s a bit different to the reefs near the town beach. With plenty of colourful coral and fish there’s a lot to see at Skeleton Bay in good clear conditions when it’s not too windy.
Where is Skeleton Bay?
Skeleton Bay makes up the northern half of the larger Bill’s Bay, which sweeps around from Coral Bay town in the south 5 kilometres north to Point Maud. The entire bay is riddled with extensive gardens of coral, and is encompassed by the Maud Sanctuary Zone.
The snorkeling area described on this page is located in the south of Skeleton Bay, just around the rocky shoreline and point to the north of the Coral Bay town beach. To get there from town it is about a 20 – 30 minute walk along the beach and the rocks, possibly with some wading depending on tides.
Where to Snorkel:
I like to snorkel in the southern part of Skeleton Bay, off shore from the Aquarium, sandbar and Reef Shark Nursery, (rather than the Point Maud end of the bay) as it’s a shorter walk from town. Swim out beyond the sandbar and the long thin ridge of rock, after which the sandy seafloor slopes away gently to the coral reefs.
What Will You See While Snorkeling at Skeleton Bay Near the Beach?
Baby Reef Sharks
In September and October, baby reef sharks congregate in the shallows off Skeleton Beach from just north of The Aquarium. When they’re present you can see them clearly from the beach and up on the dune behind.
It’s suggested that you neither swim nor wade with the baby sharks in the shallows so as not to disturb them too much in their nursery area. These sharks are not aggressive at all towards swimmers and snorkelers so don’t be alarmed if you see one or two while snorkeling in the deeper water beyond the shark nursery (or elsewhere on the Ningaloo Reef), but they do very occasionally bite the legs and feet of waders!
Coral and Fish
When the reef sharks aren’t around, the defining feature of the Skeleton Bay snorkel site is the numerous small brain corals, many of which are perfectly spherical. Some of them look for all the world like rockmelons!
In general the corals in the area are small and grouped together in pretty little scenes. Although there are areas of bleached coral, the live coral looks healthy and colourful – far more so than the coral you’ll see closest to town just off the main beach.
I’ve noticed that you tend to see more of the smaller Ningaloo fish species in this area and maybe a bit less of the big parrotfish and north west snapper that are so common off the town beach and Purdy Point.
In the right conditions when the visibility is okay I think there’s just as many interesting fish to see, and a lot more colour on the reefs, on this snorkel than there is at the Coral Bay town beach.
The only problem is the water clarity at the southern end of Skeleton Bay is often not so good due to the reefs being in fairly shallow water and half-way along the length of Bill’s Bay, exposed to all winds from the north, west and south. It’s definitely an area best snorkeled when winds are light or easterly.
Related Pages – More Coral Bay Snorkeling Sites
- Coral Bay Snorkeling – Main Page
- Town Beach (Bill’s Bay)
- Purdy Point
- Oyster Bridge and The Lagoon (Bateman Sanctuary)
- Five Fingers Reef
Last Updated: 2nd October, 2014.
First posted on 2nd October, 2014 by Bonny.
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