The Aquarium | Yallingup
Start - Off Canal Rocks Rd
Length - 1.3km Walk (Return) + 100m Snorkel
Grade - Blue
Terrain - Single Path, Semi-Enclosed Pool
Max Depth - 3m
Time - 1-2 Hours
Signed - Yes, Follow the Cape to Cape Markers
Date Snorkelled - 29th September 2020
Best Time - Spring to Autumn
Traditional Custodians - Wardandi People
Directions (Direct) - From Caves Road turn onto Canal Rocks Road and follow it all the way to a small car park on the right hand side just before the long descent down to Canal Rocks. From there follow the Cape to Cape markers north until you reach an obvious 4x4 track heading down towards the ocean. Follow this and you'll come across the beach and sheltered pool protected by the granite rocks.
Directions (Scenic) - From Caves Road turn onto Canal Rocks Road and follow this until you reach the right hand turn for Smiths Beach Road. Take this and follow it down the hill, turning left and going all the way to the end. Find the Cape to Cape markers and follow them south, through some spectacular granite formations until you reach the 4x4 track mentioned above. Head down it to the beach and protected snorkelling spot.
The Hike/Snorkel - With family Christmas being held in Funbury this year at my parents, I decided it would be the perfect time of year to put the snorkelling fins on and check out one spot near Yallingup that is really popular. Named "The Aquarium", it sits right on the edge of the famous Cape to Cape Track and is well sheltered by a series of granite rocks protruding from the water.
Joining me on this adventure was my sister and her family, minus my 2yo nephew who was left behind with nanna and granddad. On a sweltering hot day we drove out in convoy from Funbury to a spot that I had very fond memories of from my visit here a couple of months earlier on the Cape to Cape. This was a particularly fun day on the track but returning to the same spot was a very different experience. Firstly the temperature was in the mid 30s and secondly, there was a plague of flies always in your face. Nevertheless we found a park along Canal Rock Rd as the car park was not surprisingly full and made our way along the Cape to Cape towards the 4x4 track that leads down to the beach. I don't think I'd mentioned to my sister that there was a long-ish walk to the beach and my nieces were not enjoying the rocky limestone path when they had to carry snorkelling gear between them. Mercifully we arrived at the 4x4 track and it was a quick jaunt down to the very busy beach that acts as a nice place to put your gear while you snorkel. I had brought a sun shelter that I bought for a trip to Rottnest earlier in the year but never used so that was setup for everyone to use. The water was looking very inviting in the afternoon heat so everyone was quickly in the pool that was a bit of a shock thanks to the temperature difference.
There are plenty of low rocks to help you put your flippers on and there is a good shallow section if you just want to hang out and have a soak in the cool waters. My brother-in-law Haydn was already in the water checking out the protected spot that is best for snorkelling so I made the plunge and joined him. Initially when I walked past here in September, I thought the snorkelling spot was just the wide bay leading around to Canal Rocks so was very impressed when I saw this section that isn't visible from the track. The shallows quickly disappear and there is a deeper spot that is popular for people to jump off the rocks in to so be careful if you're snorkelling in that area. Immediately I was impressed with the edges of the granite that still have the orange colouring under the water that they have above it. All manner of grasses, shells and sea creatures can be found up and down the rocks, along with a good number of fish floating around. It's not a big spot to explore but if the ocean is calm then you can extend your snorkel beyond the rocks (take caution if you do). After a bit of an explore on the western side of the pool, I found Haydn on the southern tip where the waves surge in and create havoc with visibility. This spot seemed to be where the fish really enjoyed hanging out but thanks to the poor visibility when sets roll through, getting pictures wasn't easy. Not helping was my old GoPro Hero 4 that is not easy to use at the best of times so the underwater photos are little subpar.
Heading back towards the calmer area closer to the north, there are some cool channels where the waves have carved into the rocks. These still get the occasional surge but nothing as strong as the more open southern end. There's lots to explore here with hidey places for fish among the sea grasses and rocky ledges. I spent a little bit longer in the water going back and forth before spotting Haydn and my oldest niece Alexa exploring the rocky island that protects the pool on the ocean side. Deciding I had seen enough and wanting to get some photos from where they were, I departed the water but not before finding some more fish in the shallows. I dried off and grabbed my camera to make the precarious walk across the slippery rocky shallows to the granite island. I made it across without losing another camera in 2020 to water damage and found Haydn and Alexa playing on the rocks. I joined them at one of the high points but not before they posed for their best thug lyfe photo. From up above you get a really cool vantage point of the area with the most impressive sight being the cliffs to the north that brought me a great deal of joy when I hiked through them in September.
The rocks here are fun to explore and Alexa wanted to show me an area close to the pool where she found some crabs. I'm never one to say no to a good exploration of rockpools so we carefully watched the sets rolling through and picked our time to get down to sea level. We found a few crabs hiding in various crevices and pools and I got a few good shots for the collection. When we could see the waves coming in we retreated back to higher ground and watched the water crash into the rocks and spray everywhere. I love watching the waves come through as they create the most interesting patterns and effects as the white water finds the most efficient way back to sea level. With plenty of fun times in the bag we all headed back to the beach to enjoy some time in the warm afternoon sun. I helped the girls look for interesting shells on the beach and then grabbed the camera to photograph the coastline to the north as the waves rolled through right under the cliffs. I love the Capes region and an afternoon like this is the perfect summer activity for when the mercury is peaking into the mid 30s. Packing everything up we made our way back up the hill and I said my goodbyes to the family and headed into Dunsborough for a chill finish to the evening thanks to a walk around and dinner at Bayside Burger Bar (highly recommended). Summer done right in the South West.
Final Thoughts - Summer in WA for me is usually chilling at home, late afternoon walks around Freo and getting to the beach for a snorkel.
It's nice to be able to get out when I can and exploring these little protected snorkelling spots in the South West is something I have wanted to do for a while. The Aquarium is a popular spot but even on a hot day during the holidays, there was plenty of room on the beach for everyone.
The prime snorkelling spot is a little small but there is enough to keep you occupied before either relaxing in the shallows or going off to explore the rocks. It's a pretty little spot that you wouldn't know is there from the car park or the Cape to Cape.
Perfect for a visit from late spring through to autumn, do yourself a favour and pay The Aquarium a visit.
Get out there and experience it!
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