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Shark Island
Shark Island

Shark Island

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Shark Island, Point Piper, New South Wales

The Basics

Although some sharks do live in the Sydney Harbour area, the island is so-named because it very vaguely resembles the shape of a shark. From the 1830s until around 1900, the island was used as a quarantine station, first for people and then animals. It opened to the public as a park in 1905.

While it’s possible to visit independently with your own vessel, most travelers will find it more convenient to join a guided tour or ferry over to Shark Island. Active travelers can join a kayak tour of Sydney Harbor, or for a more relaxed experience, there are hop-on hop-off ferry tours.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • There’s an entry fee to the island, but kids aged four and under are free.

  • It’s important to check whether there is a fire ban in place around Sydney’s parks before heading to Shark Island. The environment here is susceptible to fire, and even something as small as a cigarette spark could lead to catastrophic damage.

  • There’s no wheelchair access on Shark Island.

  • There are basic facilities on the island: picnic tables, a gazebo for shade, a toilet, and drinking water. There are no trash cans, so pack everything out with you.

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How to Get There

If you have access to a kayak or small boat, you can paddle to the island yourself, although private vessels aren’t allowed to moor on the island. Alternatively, join a guided tour that includes activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking, or jump on a hop-on hop-off ferry around Sydney Harbour, stopping at Shark Island.

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When to Get There

Shark Island is open every day of the week between sunrise and sunset. Late spring through to early autumn is a good time to visit, as you can cool down in the sea breezes and by swimming off shore. It’s particularly good to visit Shark Island when there's a boating event happening in the harbor, such as late December's annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

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Visit Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island is another small island in Sydney Harbour that’s worthy of a day trip. The island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was used as a penal settlement from 1839, and is one of the best surviving examples of convict transportation and forced labor in Australia. During odd-numbered years it also hosts art and installations of the Biennale of Sydney art festival.

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