Learning to Scuba Dive at Shelly Beach, Sydney

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I’m happy to say that I’ve finally had my first scuba diving experience.

After all the trips we’ve done to popular dive destinations like South East Asia, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii, I learned to scuba dive in Sydney.

Crazy I know.

Over the years when I’ve met foreigners for the first time and they come to realise that I’m Australian, that I grew up on the east coast of Australia, right by the beach, the two questions I’ve heard over and over again are

You must be a surfer?


You must know how to dive?”

It bemuses them when my answer is NO!

Yes, we are an island nation. Yes, we have some of the best dive sites and surfing beaches in the world. But, not every Aussie male is a surfer and not every Australian has been scuba diving – shocking I know.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach, I love getting active and out on the water, and I’m interested in what life is like under the sea, but I have only ever snorkeled.

Why? No good reason.

Maybe a slight fear of deep water and sharks. I was always under the impression learning how to dive and get certified took forever. Caz has never been interested due to her mild asthma and MASSIVE fear of sharks. And it never crossed my mind that I could do it right here in Sydney.

Well, turns out, it doesn’t take forever to get certified and Sydney has a very cool dive location for beginners like me, Shelly Beach in Manly.

So last week I had my first diving lesson thanks to the guys at Pro Dive and a program called Priceless Sydney which is a MasterCard initiative that allows all MasterCard holders to experience priceless offers and events including sport, dining, retail, hotels and entertainment.

Not only was it my first dive, but it was also my first visit to Shelly Beach. I didn’t even know this beach existed – I love discovering new places in Sydney – and on the clear winter’s day we had, it was beautiful.

Shelly Beach is a popular shore diving location due to the fact it’s the only west-facing beach on the east coast of Australia – meaning it’s well protected – and it sits in the only Aquatic Reserve within Sydney, Cabbage Tree Bay.

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia

My instructor for the day was Howard, an experienced diver originally from Leeds in the UK. Luckily for me, it was one-on-one instruction.

After a short pep talk on land about the technical aspects of diving, it was time to suit up and practice my safety hand signals and recovery drills under the water.

Learn to Scuba Dive at Shelly Beach in Sydney, Australia
Howard and me ready for action!!

If there was one thing I was a little anxious about, it was the breathing and being able to equalise.

During my first lesson, we only went down in 3 metres of water. I struggled a getting my breathing right and equalising, but the clear vision I had of the surface above put me at ease.

Howard repeatedly reassured me, “It’s all about relaxing and just breathing naturally and once you start looking around you forget about it.”

On my second go, I felt more comfortable and completed all the safety drills.

It was now time to get amongst the sea life

There are two dives at Shelly Beach, and both are suitable for novice divers. The first one follows the promenade back towards Manly Beach.

I felt comfortable again in the knowledge we were only diving to a maximum depth of 8 metres, and we would be following the sea bed down gradually.

We were under for 40 minutes and it was such a unique and enjoyable feeling.

It was exactly as I have heard over the years – it’s a whole other world down there. It was peaceful, relaxing and we saw some pretty neat stuff: giant cuttlefish, yellow tails, pomfrets and a stingaree (type of stingray)

Lion Fish - Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Stingray - Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Feeling empowered, and a little jelly legged as I left the water for our break, it was time for some hot soup and to reflect a little on my experience – this could get addictive I thought.

Shelly Beach has a cool cafe, and if I don’t come back again for more diving, I will definitely be back for breakfast, a cappuccino and to admire the views.

Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Scuba Diving Sydney 301

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, Australia

On our second dive we followed the right hand reef wall from the beach.

I was really starting to like this diving thing, and I could definitely see myself diving more often. On this dive we saw even cooler stuff: a blue groper, large bull ray, AND, an old abandoned motor bike:

Blue Groper - Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

Bull Ray - Diving at Shelly Beach in Sydney, AustraliaPhoto Credit: DiveBuzz.com

I had a ton of fun diving and totally recommend it if you have been hesitant like me.

I really enjoyed exploring the world beneath the surface and felt completely safe with an experienced dive buddy right beside me.

So after many years of not bothering to take the plunge, I can say without hesitation that I would LOVE to give it a shot in some of the top dive spots around the world – bring it on.

Pin for later:

Learning to scuba dive at Shelly Beach in Sydney with Pro Dive was awesome. It's a perfect dive spot in Sydney for beginners and you're right near Manly!

Have you scuba dived in Sydney before? Where’s your favourite place to scuba dive?

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17 thoughts on “Learning to Scuba Dive at Shelly Beach, Sydney”

  1. I loved diving, such a shame I didn’t finish my PADI and need to start it again πŸ™

    Unfortunately the swell came up in Durban and I couldn’t do the final dive to qualify.

    Fingers crossed for the comp…

    1. Well, it only took me 39 years for my first attempt, and would love to check out some other locations but Shelly was great for a beginner!

  2. Congrats! It’s certainly very, very addicting. I got certified in Sydney back in 2009 and despite the initial “oh my god I can’t breathe through my nose!” shock, I love it.

    1. Hi Megan,

      Yeah, it’s definitely a more mental thing, the breathing, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and once you start looking around at all the marine life your mind focuses on other things and you just start breathing naturally πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Craig,
    You are spot on – it does get very addictive. It’s what I call the DiveBuzz! Even after 2000 dives, I still enjoy going for a dive at Shelly Beach!

    It was a pleasure to take you for your first dive and glad it was a great experience. I hope it’s the first of many. Get underwater and blow bubbles again soon!


  4. HIya! Welcome to the exciting world of diving. It took me until I was 43 to take the plunge and a year later I have racked up nearly 100 dives πŸ™‚ Fair to say I am addicted! Off to Bali soon to explore their waters and so excited. Im in NZ, but would love to enter to win for my brother who lives in Sydney – is that allowed? – would be great to be able to share diving experiences with him.

    1. Wow Sue, you really exploded into the world of diving!

      If you want your brother in Sydney to enter the giveaway, best thing to do would be to send him a link to this post and have him fill in his name and email πŸ™‚

  5. Oh my… this looks both amazing and somewhat terrifying! Good on you Craig for getting down there and experiencing life under the sea! *cue ‘Little Mermaid’ music*

    A note on Mastercard: I find that everywhere in the world but the UK, Mastercard is the best and easiest card to use. =)

    1. Hey Nicole,

      It was about time huh. Yeah, never had anything but positive experiences with MasterCard. Always readily acceptable. What’s your issue with the UK?

      1. In the UK I’ve found that some online providers don’t accept it – maybe this was just around the Olympics (Visa was the official partner), but I’ll let you know in three-weeks πŸ˜‰

  6. It must be amazing to go scuba diving in Sydney, there must be some really amazing things down there. Would love to win this experience.

  7. Wow! You are so lucky. I’ve always wanted to scuba dive there but time constraints prohibit me to do so. The place is so amazing according to my diver friends, saying that it’s one of the best the world has to offer. With that being said, I will do everything I can to book a flight to Australia and explore the depths of Sydney once and for all.

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