Piccaninnie Ponds is tucked away right in down in the very bottom south-east corner of South Australia, just behind the beach in a wetland formed by springs.
There’s a large number of places in the area to go snorkeling and scuba diving, with Piccaninnie Ponds being one of the most popular on the entire Limestone Coast. People travel from all over the world to this area for diving and Piccaninnie Ponds is mainly visited by both cave divers as that’s the best way to explore spring.
Only a short distance from where you enter the water via a small floating jetty, there’s a large tear in the pond that opens up to a huge cave that’s up to 110 metres deep. This is the main draw card that excites divers. The cave begins just several metres from the surface, allowing those snorkelling to float above it and look down the opening, although not a huge amount can be seen and for that reason, it’s more popular for divers as opposed to being a snorkeling hot spot like the near by Ewens Ponds.
Snorkeling at Piccaninnie Ponds
The water temperature of Piccaninnie Ponds sits at about 15 degrees celsius, year round. With a standard 3mm surf wetsuit, it’s cold when you enter the water but give it a few minutes and you’ll feel fine. You’ll notice that Scuba Divers will spend a lot more time in the water than those snorkeling, this is partly due to the temperature, but also that about 30-45 minutes is plenty of time to explore the pond when snorkeling, but due to the cave being an option for divers, there’s a huge amount more for them to take a look at.
When snorkeling, you’ll be able to see plenty of small fish in the more shallow sections and the occasional Eel beneath the reeds. There also around 60 threatened species of plants that can be observed without a tank of air.
Just as you enter the pond, you’ll be in the ‘Blue Lake’, where you can still see the ground, although other than the cave, this is the deepest part of Piccaninnie Ponds and the coldest. As you pass the Blue Lake, it becomes much more shallow and filled with plants, this part of the spring is noticeably warmer.
It’s a great place for both snorkeling and scuba diving, but also be sure to consider Ewens Ponds, which is back towards Port MacDonnell. You’ll need to book and pay for your visit at both locations.
Booking in a time to go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving at Piccaninnie Ponds
Before heading to Piccaninnie Ponds, be sure to check that there’s availability. You can book your session by the hour on the Parks SA website, here. More often than not, you’ll be able to find a time that suits you, although it can be worth booking in early as different School groups and organisations can sometimes book the entire day.
Getting to Piccaninnie Ponds
Piccaninnie Ponds is about 30 minutes south of Mount Gambier. If you’re coming from there or anywhere else, just head for Nelson.
When you’re heading here from Mount Gambier or from the Port MacDonnell area after visiting Ewens Ponds, Piccaninnie Ponds is just before the Victoria/SA border, about ten minutes before Nelson. Follow the signs for Nelson and not long after seeing the turn-off for Donovans on your left, you’ll see the signs for Piccaninnie Ponds on your right.
If you’re coming from Victoria, drive straight through Nelson following the signs for Mount Gambier and you’ll see the Piccaninnie Ponds turn-off on your left, just after your cross the border into South Australia.