Start - West Coast Drive, North Beach
Length - 600m (Choose Your Own Adventure)
Grade - Blue
Terrain - Shallow Reef
Depth - 1-8m
Time - 1 Hour
Signed - No
Date Snorkelled - 25th February 2021
Best Time - Spring to Autumn
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - Located on the northern beaches of Perth, Mettams Pool is located along the popular stretch of West Coast Drive between Scarborough and Hillarys. From West Coast Highway take Karrinup Road west until you reach the coast. Turn right onto West Coast Drive and look for the black Mettams Pool signs on the left. The best parking spot is the car park north of the reef. From there you can walk along the footpath to the walkway/stairs leading down to the beach.
The Snorkel - Summer in Perth means hot days, warm nights, morning easterlies and endless opportunities to get out and explore the limestone reefs just the many fantastic beaches. Having visited a few places around Perth and Rottnest over the past couple of summers, my to-do list of snorkel spots is continuing to grow. Top of that list is the popular Mettams Pool as I was intrigued by the tales of swim throughs, caves and excellent marine life in the area. The spot has an interesting history to say the least with the limestone reef being blown up and carved out because a man called Frank Mettam thought the Perth coastline lacked a number of decent beaches (read more about it here).
This post is actually the combination of three visits to the area over the space of a month thanks to not exploring the entirety of the reef and poor swell conditions. The first visit was with Aron aka 1A1R on a warm Sunday morning but we only explored the inner portion of the reef as we couldn't find the way to the deeper outer wall. The second visit was also with Aron and his partner Jenny but the swell was too big to properly explore the outer reef. This visit was a bit hasty as I had just purchased a new underwater camera and wanted to get out. Finally I took advantage of a low swell and light easterly winds on a perfect Thursday morning to make the time to take in everything. For almost a year I have been fortunate enough to be able to work from home but it's only been since the start of 2021 that I have put to good use the lack of commuting to pack in recreational activities to my morning. Surviving the morning traffic, I found a good parking spot along West Coast Drive before realising I had driven all this way and left my snorkelling gear by the back door. Luckily I had left Caris' snorkel set in the car from our Christmas visit to Funbury and so I didn't waste the excellent conditions. Thankfully her flippers are adjustable around the heel and I found her mask to be a little more resistant to fogging so it worked out well in the end.
Entering the water at the concrete ramp to the left of the beach, this is much easier than trying to pick your way over the sharp rocks in front of the beach. Being late summer, the water was beautifully warm after the initial shock of getting wet and immediately you will start to see various fish as they go about their daily business. The common question I see asked on the FaceSpace snorkelling group about snorkelling spots is where do you go to explore the best areas. At Mettams Pool the reef forms sort of a crescent shape where you have an inner part of the reef to explore and to get to the outer section you can swim straight over the reef if the tide is high or head north and swim around it. This is where Aron and I got stuck on our first visit as we didn't head far enough north and it wasn't until I got home and checked my copy of Dive and Snorkel Sites in Western Australia that I realised we did it wrong. On my latest visit the visibility was amazing so I set off to explore the inner reef first where you will find most of the fish. This area is home to a lot of Red Lipped Morwongs with a famous resident being Clive, a large specimen that I think I saw before he ducked off into a crevice. Still getting to grips with the new Olympus TG6 that I had treated myself to, I tootled around the edge of the reef looking for new fish to photograph plus enjoying the different types of seagrass and corals.
I drifted around following various schools of fish including some Australian Herring, Tarwhines and Stripeys. I'm not the best with fish names but there is a great guide to the various fish species found at Mettams Pool put together by Ruchira Somaweera that can be accessed here. Ruchira is a fantastic underwater photographer who frequently posts on the Perth Snorkelling Facebook page with all his latest photos. As I made my way to the northern end of the inner reef, I was greeted with some areas that I didn't recognise from previous trips so was excited to explore further and find a passage to the outer part of the reef. There are deeper parts out here that are crawling with different types of fish but getting a good photo isn't the easiest sometimes. I really need to invest in a dive belt so I can stay still at the bottom for longer but that might be a purchase for next summer. I did my best, moving from one limestone structure to another before I found a passage over the reef and out to the deeper waters on the seaward side. I had read that this area didn't have the abundance of fish life as the inner reef but was home to more dramatic caves and crevices. It certainly contained a healthy population of seaweed clinging to the reef and I was fortunate to find a large school of either Silver Drummers or Western Buffalo Bream. I had a blast frolicking with them as the currents pushed us out and back.
The new camera was working a treat and I even remembered to take a video of it given the quality would be much better than my old GoPro4 that I had been using up to this point. While not professional by any standard, there is a short 4K clip of me following the school of fish along the edge of the reef at the bottom of this page. Having seen plenty of posts over the past few weeks about healthy schools of fish hanging off the coast, I was happy to experience it for myself, even if it wasn't in the vast numbers that others had been posting. With that delightful experience over I really wanted to see a Port Jackson Shark but my numerous dives down to the bottom came up empty. With time and practice I will be a better free diver but for now I'm not able to stay down for as long as I like or stay still long enough to enjoy the deeper parts of the reef. Deciding to head back, I found the visibility had diminished a bit as the swell started to increase so made my around the reef to the inner part again. Not wanting to get out of the water just yet, I had another couple of laps of the inner reef chasing fish and trying to spot something different. I ended up with plenty of photos and eventually had to call it a day so I could log into my work computer at a decent hour. Very happy with this morning adventure, I headed home to see what the new camera had captured.
Final Thoughts - Mettams Pool is a main staple of the Perth snorkelling community for good reason. It's accessible for beginners and there is a little more to explore if you want to head out to the deeper parts of the reef.
Once you know where to go, it's great fun exploring the different areas of the reef where you'll get a fair bit of variety. While it can get busy on the weekends, there is plenty of space for everyone as the action isn't limited to one particular spot like the Omeo Wreck.
Easily accessed and right near the coastal suburbs, this is a fantastic spot that will be in regular rotation for me in the future.
Get out there and experience it!
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