Shelly Beach

  • Shelly Beach - Australia
    © Hardlinerr and licensed for reuse under this Licence Pinterest
  • Shelly Beach - Australia
    © J Bar / CC BY Pinterest
  • Shelly Beach - Australia
    © Jolene Thompson / CC BY Pinterest

Shelly Beach is a real gem, just a short ferry ride from Sydney or a 20-minute walk south along Marine Parade from well-known Manly Beach. Tucked beneath the Shelly Head Lookout, it faces west and is very sheltered.

The 100m long beach got its name as the sand is made up of broken seashells so it’s rather coarse and not terribly good for building sandcastles. However, it’s within the no-take Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve and protected marine sanctuary which makes it particularly special for snorkelling and scuba diving. It’s also good for sailing, sunbathing, kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing and whatever else you enjoy.

Protected by a reef on the north side, it is excellent for scuba diving lessons at any time of year. The turquoise waters reach about 12m in depth with good visibility and you even spot the old motorbike on the seabed in the middle of the bay. Divers come across many unusual species including delicate weedy sea dragons, the elegant wrasse, black cod and large-but-harmless dusky whaler sharks.

The beach is nicely sheltered from the winds and catches the last rays of sun. But just off the eastern point are some of Sydney’s most epic surf breaks; a reeling shallow point break known as “Fairy Bower” and the suitably menacingly named big wave spot of “Deadmans”.

Shelly Beach is a top place for picnics and the water is clear and calm. There are showers, toilets, a kiosk for refreshments and even ready-to-use electric barbecues. It ensures families can enjoy a fabulous full day of activities when you visit. Parking is pay-and-display on the car park.

Nearest town/city



  • Diving & snorkelling
  • Swimming/bathing
  • Surfing


  • Shower

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