Entry is either via the steps on both sides of the bay, or via the beach at the end of the bay. In either case, the entry is relatively easy throughout most of the year, due to the protecting sea rock walls at the mouth of the bay which dissipate most of the wave energy coming into the bay.
This is one of the strengths of Clovelly Bay. Facilities include a kiosk, picnic tables, toilet block with change rooms and showers. The showers are the fixed temperature type, and are generally cool to lukewarm. There is also good parking available, but you may find it to be very full on good summer days. The carpark is about a 100 m walk to the water. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards.
Clovelly is generally good for snorkelling year round, and due to the dissipated wave energy created by the sea rock walls, this protected bay is one of the best sites for beginner snorkellers. This also explains why Clovelly is one of the most popular sites for snorkelling in Sydney. Just behind the rock wall, the depth drops away to 5-7 m depending on the tides, and then runs a gradient up to the beach. The northern side of the bay is shallower, running over rock formations, and sea grass & kelp beds.
The rock walls themselves are always good for checking out, as you’ll find various prawn species, rock lobster and other sea life hiding in the nooks and crannies. There’s also the ever present rock kale fish feeding on the rocks, some of them being quite a decent size.
Heading back towards the beach, you have shallower waters, which can be a little murky in front of the ocean pool. The beach area is generally populated by smooth toadfish, bream and sand whiting at about 1-2 m depth, and flutemouths tend to lurk near the handicap access ramp exit on the north side.
Clovelly Beach is located within the Bronte-Coogee Aquatic Reserve, and as a result has prolific levels of sea life. One of the key attractions is the large resident blue groper nicknamed Bluey. There are also a number of other blue and green gropers, as well as all the other regular fish we find in Sydney waters. The site also seems to be a bit of an aquatic nursery, so it’s not uncommon to find juvenile species at various times throughout the year. It’s also one of the few places I’ve found nudibranchs as a snorkeller!
As a consequence of being an aquatic reserve, it is prohibited to collect cunjevoi or any marine invertebrates except blacklip abalone, eastern rock lobster and southern rock lobster. For example you cannot collect anemones, barnacles, chitons, cockles, crabs, mussels, octopus, oysters, pipis, sea urchins, sea stars, snails and worms, whether they are dead or alive. Empty shells cannot be collected in the Reserve because they provide homes for living organisms. Marine vegetation cannot be collected except for sea lettuce and bait weed. See http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/beaches-and-coast/beaches/clovelly-beach for details. A lot of people think it’s fun to crack open sea urchins to feed the gropers, but it’s really not allowed in the reserve so don’t do it.
Probably Sydney’s premium snorkelling site, and an excellent introduction site for new snorkellers. The calm waters of the bay make it easy and relaxing to spend a lot of time in the water, and the waters are rich with sea life being located within an aquatic reserve.