EMS Guided Snorkelling Tour for Families | Hallett Cove | Review

EMS Community Snorkelling Tour for Families at Hallett Cove – Review

If taking up snorkelling is on your bucket list, then it’s time to dip your flipper in with a local guided tour. We did, and can’t wait to hit the beach again. 

by Carla Caruso

I’ve never properly snorkelled before, but now I’m a convert.

This week, I booked in for a guided snorkelling tour at Hallett Cove Beach with the kids through Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries (EMS). EMS is a local not-for-profit organisation, which takes inspiration from a highly successful New Zealand program. Its approach to education is to give children and their parents – and grandparents – a safe and professionally supervised, hands-on experience of the underwater world.

If you’re a first-time snorkeller like us, then EMS is for you. The tours are led by qualified first aid, snorkelling and/or diving instructors. Funding for our tour was provided by the City of Marion to keep the fees for families down.

We arrived half an hour early for our 2pm snorkel, as requested, to fill in a registration form, be fitted with wetsuits and snorkel gear, and do a safety briefing.

EMS provides the masks (goggles), snorkels, flippers, and wetsuits. Participants are split into small groups with a guide. Ours was the lovely Carl Charter, who is a co-founder of the organisation.

We had to wear specific coloured hoods too, so our group would stand out in the water (our hue was orange). 

Putting on wetsuits, which must fit snugly, is trickier than I imagined. You’ll need a hand, as will the kids. I’m so glad I brought the husband along for this!

The temperature was in the 30s on the day we went, so the suits were quite hot to wear on land – especially on the five-minute walk from the EMS van down to the beach.

But once we were in the flat, calm, crystal-clear waters, all that was forgotten. It’s a strange feeling to walk into the ocean in a wetsuit, surf booties and fins and not get the usual shock to the system from the cold. You do feel the odd trickle of water running through your wetsuit, but otherwise, it’s a much pleasanter way to wade in.

We did have to be careful climbing over some slimy rocks and get accustomed to wearing flippers. 

In the shallows, we learned how to breathe through our snorkel gear. This didn’t take long to get the hang of. Then it was onto the actual snorkelling. Not being confident ocean swimmers, we had Carl tow us around via a boogie board. EMS also has pool noodles you can use, if necessary.

It was amazing to have such a clear vision of all the marine plants just below the surface. We also spotted a school of tiny fish, and a blue swimmer crab with its claws raised. (Which made me feel a tad guilty about ordering blue swimmer crab linguine when out!)

If we’d been brave enough to venture further, we would’ve spotted even more creatures.

It’s such a meditative experience, gliding through the water, peering down below. All the noise and distractions from day-to-day life fade away. Time has no meaning.

I’m so proud of how my boys took to the new experience too. We were so invigorated by it all, we’re going to book in for a pool session in basic snorkelling techniques through EMS next. EMS also runs snorkel tours on the Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, in Ewens Ponds, and beyond. We’ll definitely be joining in on another one.

For SA’s top 10 snorkel spots, check out Carl’s list here or Environment SA’s 10 Top Spots to Snorkel in South Australia.

Catch you in the water!

What we like about it

  • The chance to get out in nature, try something new, and experience another side of life.
  • If you’re new to snorkelling, these tours are a great way to dip your flipper in, offering supervision and guidance.
  • The tours are run by passionate volunteers, so there’s a feel-good, community vibe. 
  • Snorkelling’s a fun way to expend energy and get fit.

Things to consider

  • Snorkelling isn’t for everyone, so bear this in mind. My husband found the snorkel gear too claustrophobic and had to wait out most of the experience on the shore. Everyone will have a different experience. 

Coffee and food options nearby

Afterwards, we dropped into the Boatshed Cafe for a well-deserved drink. Pics above 🙂 The meeting point for the snorkel tour was just on the road above, Heron Way. 


Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information or to book a tour, please visit EMS’ website.

All photos by James Elsby for Play & Go Adelaide 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.


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