Five 'secret' snorkelling spots on the Northern Rivers
AS OUR seemingly endless hot spell continues, there's no better family pastime than finding a lovely patch of water to do some snorkelling.
And according to The Northern Star's fishing correspondent Barry Cooder, there are some stunning locations to do just that around the Northern Rivers.
Particularly in late summer, our region is blessed with an abundance of warm water species, which includes all kinds of tropical fish.
It hasn't rained much lately, so the water is generally clear and there's plenty of sun to illuminate the underwater worlds on offer.
Here are five spots which are worth checking out:
1. The Moat, Lennox Head
The Moat is the area of basalt boulders in the corner of Lennox Head and offers an excellent location for both wading and snorkelling.
It's best on the low to mid-tide.
It's a great place for young ones to discover sea urchins, sea cucumbers, star fish, as well as plenty of tropical and local fish.
Fins are not advised here, better to bring a pair of old flat sneakers which you can use to stand on the boulders when you need a break from snorkelling.
Park at the end of Dress Circle Drive if possible or at the end of Rutherford St and walk up.
2. Flat Rock, Ballina
On a small swell day only the northern corner of Flat Rock can offer a fun snorkel along the edge of the rock shelf.
Once again, only on the lower tide.
On the right day, confident swimmers can also try snorkelling off the eastern edge - but this is only for the experienced.
3. Shaws Bay, Ballina
Shaws Bay is Ballina's own little aquarium, with an abundance of species which have entered through the cracks in North Wall as babies and then can't get back out.
Over the years there has been huge giant trevally, protected estuary cod, mangrove jack, and big flathead seen hanging out in the enclosed body of water.
The best day to snorkel Shaws Bay is a sunny, dry day, preferably not after rain, and on the higher tide.
4. Evans Head drift snorkel
This is a more advanced drift snorkel for experienced swimmers only - but is well worth the effort.
It must be undertaken on a rising tide, and from half-tide and above.
The trip starts off North Wall and you basically enter the water and let the current take you down to the bridge, staying on the north side of the river.
Expect to see giant eels, stingrays, estuary cod, big flathead, luderick, mangrove jack, and bream.
You can do it in about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the current.
Fins are advised as there is nowhere to stand along the way.
5. Woody Head lagoon
The Woody Head lagoon has been described as "absolutely magic” on the right day - for kids and adults alike.
It's right in front of the National Parks camping ground, and boasts more accessible live corals than anywhere else on the North Coast.
It includes soft coral beds, along with kelp, and plenty of really lovely tropical fish.
Live cowry shells can also be seen - including the occasional tiger cowry.
This snorkel is best done on a calm sunny morning, so the northerly winds don't blow things out.
Low tide is also best, as on the high tide waves wash over the shelf.