Two out of the five oceans that cover our planet are found around South Africa. On one side is the South Atlantic Ocean and on the other, the Indian Ocean. With both oceans, comes abundant marine life and incredible scuba diving opportunities.
South Africa is a ‘world-class’ diving destination, from exploring beautiful coral gardens to getting-up close and personal with the oceans most formidable creature, the Great White Shark. South Africa caters for all levels of scuba diver, from the relaxed diver to all the adrenaline junkies out there.
Planning your dive trip to South Africa can be a daunting experience, so we have made it slightly easier for you.
Top 5 Dive Sites in South Africa
The Sardine Run, Protea Banks, KwaZulu Natal
If you find yourselves visiting South Africa during the months of June to July, then the annual Sardine Run is an experience like none-other. Throughout these months, huge schools of sardine migrate from the colder waters surrounding Cape Town, to the slightly warmer waters of KwaZulu Natal, in order to birth their young. It certainly is Mother Nature at its finest. With these huge numbers of sardines, comes larger fish and predators. If you get to see this spectacular occurrence, you may also get to see dolphins, sharks, whales, and even cape gannets, feasting on this moving smorgasbord.
If you don’t manage to make it to South Africa at this time, Protea Banks provides an amazing sight to see, even without the migration of thousands of sardines. Protea Banks is situated approximately 100miles south of Durban and is located 5miles off Shelly Beach. This site is a petrified sand dune, which provides a stunning underwater landscape to explore.
Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu Natal
Aliwal Shoal is one of South Africa’s ‘signature dives’ and is recognized as one of the top dive sites found throughout the world and it’s not hard to see why. If you want to see sharks, then Raggie Cave and Shark Alley are the dive sites for you. Famed for their unbelievable shark sightings, expect to see tiger sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, and even hammerheads. Located approximately 31 miles south of Durban, close to the town of Umkomaas, on KwaZulu Natal’s southern coastline, this stunning 80,00-year-old sandstone reef became a heavily protected area in 2005. The Shoal runs in a north to south direction and due to the lovely warm waters, visibility is usually excellent.
As well as the incredible marine life, there are also two wrecks to explore in Aliwal Shoals; The Produce and The Nebo, both of which offer adventure around every corner.
Mossel Bay, Garden Route
The Garden Route, South Africa is one of the country’s favorite getaways. With the stunning scenery and numerous coastal towns to explore, there is something for everyone, both on land and under the surface. Mossel Bay is home to some of the most fascinating underwater landscapes. With its colorful reefs, spectacular drop-offs, abundant marine life and the ability to cage dive with the Great White Sharks; there are dives available to suit all levels of scuba diver. If you manage to get to this incredible area, make sure you take part in a night dive, where you will see a number of wild and wacky creatures, which emerge once night falls.
Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
If you don’t mind the cold or own a dry suit, then get yourself to the reefs that surround Port Elizabeth. Avalanche Reef is known for its incredible topography and spectacular colors. With its densely populated reef, this dive will certainly fill you with a sense of wonder and amazement. As well as Avalanche Reef, why not dive an incredible wreck known as the Haerlem Wreck, a navy frigate that was sunk in 1987, which is now home to some sensational soft corals, fish, and sharks that hide in every nook and cranny.
Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal
Approximately 62 miles from the southern border of Mozambique, is where you will find Sodwana Bay, known by the locals as ‘Sordies’. If you love nature, above and below the surface, then this location is perfect for you. Sodwana Bay is part of a heavily protected marine and coastal reserve, which means that the marine life has been given the ability to flourish. Not only will you see impressive Zambezi and tiger sharks, you will also see huge schools of fish, tiger angelfish, butterflyfish, long-nose hawkfish, rays, eels and keep a special lookout for Mantas. Whether you’re learning to dive or want to test your skills with a technical dive, Sodwana Bay has it all, including warm waters. If you find yourselves at this location throughout the summer months, then you may even see turtles laying their eggs on one of the many beaches that surround this stunning protected park.
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced diver seeking adventure, there is something for everyone scattered around the coastline of South Africa. South Africa also has a lot to offer non-divers out there, so if your planning a trip and fancy taking a break from diving, go and explore South Africa’s, magnificent landscape above the water, with its enticing wildlife and incredible hiking trails.
There are so many ‘Top Dive Sites’ scattered around the 1553-mile coastline of South Africa, almost too many to choose from. So, if you have a top dive site that hasn’t made it to our ‘Top 5 Dive Sites South Africa’ list, then make sure you let us know what your favorite dive site is, in the comments below.
Brought To You By
This guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend that you use a Suunto Dive Computer when diving one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading dive computer designer and manufacturer providing diving instruments for recreational, technical and freediving. You can find out more at Suunto.com.