Yallingup Beach Rd
Directions - Located walking distance from the centre of Yallingup, from the main beach car park on Yallingup Beach Road, head towards the western most playground. At the small grassed area in front of a smaller car park you will find a set of stairs leading down to the southern beach that is separated from the main beach by a limestone shelf. Alternatively you can park at the gravel car park just off Yallingup Beach Road, just before the caravan park and follow the footpath north towards another set of stairs.
The Snorkel - Summer holidays in the South West are a Western Australian tradition and the combination of sun, sea and salty air makes for an enjoyable time. Last year I scheduled in a visit to The Aquarium near Yallingup with my sister and her family while I was visiting Funbury for Christmas and this year I had an appetite for more snorkelling fun. With that in mind and three weeks of leave to use, I decided to spend my middle week of holidays using my parents place as a base to get in a few more snorks.
First on the agenda was the family friendly Yallingup Lagoon, a place I had been eying off since last years visit to The Aquarium, a page that has been my most popular this summer by far. Inviting my sister and her family along again, the best weather forecast that also fit in with their busy school holiday schedule was the first afternoon of my visit so we all loaded into one car and set about driving to one of my favourite parts of WA. My last visit to Yallingup was walking through on the Cape to Cape Track in 2020 and I have fond memories of sitting on the beach watching the surfers enjoy some excellent conditions just before sunset. We would not be getting ideal weather on this visit however as all week the forecast was going to involve high winds and this afternoon was meant to be 40kmph coming from the south or south east. This didn't really worry me as the lagoon is pretty protected from that direction and with good swell conditions for snorkelling, a little bit of choppiness was acceptable. Arriving and parking in the gravel car park above the lagoon, the wind wasn't really a factor as we got out of the car, so we gathered our things and went down the stairs to find a spot on the beach.
This would be my first time back in the water since being fortunate enough to visit Ningaloo in August thanks to some subpar snorkelling conditions in Perth to start the summer. Armed with my relatively new Olympus TG6, this new underwater camera was a pleasure to shoot with in Ningaloo and although nowhere near as good a proper DSLR in underwater housing, allows me to present a better picture of life under the sea than my old GoPro 4. Joining me in the water for todays snorkel was my brother in law Haydn and my youngest niece Maddie, with everyone else having a splash back on the beach. The water wasn't as cold as I thought it would be as we ventured out over the shallows and towards what looked like the better parts from shore. Right up to where the waves break over the reef wall is very shallow with the max depth being just over 2m at high tide, so this combined with the protection from the waves means this is an excellent spot for beginners. I was relieved to see that the visibility was pretty good considering the windy conditions over the past few days and it didn't take long to spot our first grouping of fish. Following the edge of a section of reef leading out to sea, Haydn was in his element checking under the ledges as he loves to dives for crayfish off the coast of Funbury in his spare time.
Maddie and I kept exploring for a while until Maddie had decided she was done and started swimming back to shore, accompanied by Haydn. Just as they left I turned back into a sandy channel and coming in from the ocean was a big stingray (perhaps a Smooth Ray). It's always fun to watch these gentle creatures glide around as they look so graceful. I followed it for a short while until it disappeared into the reef and I went to find Haydn, who was coming back out after seeing Maddie back to the beach. Heading back out towards the edge of the reef, there was still a lot of area to explore. The map at the top of the page is more a guideline of where to go and I'm sure a GPS tracker would have seen me scramble all over the place as something new caught my eye. Floating over some of the grassy gardens, I can imagine that at low tide this place would be a bit more difficult to get around but being about halfway between low and high tide, there was enough clearance in most spots to get over the reef. We found another great little section of ledges and Haydn spotted a starfish under one of them that I couldn't get a clear picture of thanks to the currents surging in and out closer to the edge of the reef. I did spot another smaller ray here and it was quite content to wander between the open water and then hide underneath the reef.
Spotting two rays and a few varieties of fish was a good start but with plenty more reef to explore, I was hoping for an octopus or maybe a Port Jackson Shark to top it off. Haydn headed off back to the beach so I decided to sweep around the rocky section to the south of the lagoon where the sea birds like to gather on the small rocky islands. With just enough water to be able to swim in, I could get all the way up to the edge of the granite boulders where there were more fish to be found. With great visibility and plenty of light in the day left, I didn't want to get out of the water so headed back to the sandy channel to see what I could find. Apart from seeing more schooling fish, some Stripeys and some cool grasses, there were no new surprises for me. Heading back to shore, Maddie was back in the water so I gave her my camera to have a go with and circled around the shallows while she had some fun taking selfies in the water. With my luck I wasn't going to be surprised if I saw an octopus or small shark without a camera ready but there were no new creatures to be found. With a great time had splashing around, we all packed up and went to find some dinner, a challenge given the troubles businesses are having getting staff plus it being peak tourist season in this area. Another fantastic visit to Yallingup and more great memories.