When thinking of diving in South Africa, most people immediately think of diving with sharks. But diving in South Africa offers more than shark diving. Dive with seals and sea lions, Whale sharks and Manta Rays. And once a year the epic sardine run takes place in front of the shores of South Africa.
Diving in South Africa
diving in South Africa is fantastic regardless of your level of expertise. Some of the best diving in South Africa is found in:
- The Western Cape, where there are very cool waters (bring a wet suit!)
- Sodwana Bay near Mozambique which is much more tropical
- Aliwal Shoals
- Protea Banks
Photo Credit: Carol Munro was rgtmum
The list is much longer than the above of course, but these are just a few of the sites that make South Africa the rightful owner of a place in the list of top diving destinations in the world.
South Africa is located – obviously – on the most southern tip of the continent of Africa, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet each other. If you were to go diving around the Western Cape or Cape Town, you would find that the waters are very cool and that visibility can be quite poor.
However, going up north towards Kwazulu Natal, you will find that the water becomes warmer and visibility is much improved. Because the water temperatures are so different, there is an incredible variety of marine life along the South African coast.
Kwazulu Natal, which is off the beaten track but well worth a visit not only for its world famous dive sites but also to see the native Zulu people helping out with conservation efforts.
Around Gansbaai and Cape Town, you may find the Great White Shark for example where cage diving with great whites is populair.
Photo Credit: Squicker
The area around Sodwana Bay, you are more likely to find dolphins, mantas and Whale Sharks. The Western Cape is very popular for diving, particularly around the Garden Route. The dive sites around Sodwana Bay (particularly) and Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoals are almost legendary.
Diving in South Africa - Sodwana Bay
Sodwana Bay, located in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, is world famous for good reason and you can expect the quality of diving to be consistently high. The waters are warm and clear, the reefs are amazing and the corals are breath taking.
Breath taking though they may be, they are only a slight cover of everything else that you can find in these waters. Some of the great sites where you could dive include: Nine Mile Reef, Seven mile and Two Mile Reef, where you are likely to encounter morays, potato bass (one big fish!) and manta rays.
Photo Credit: hyper7pro
In Sodwana Bay, you will also have the opportunity to dive with sharks. Not the Great White of course, but there are entire shoals of Ragged Tooth Sharks. As far as shark diving is concerned, Sodwana Bay can be one of the best sites in the world. You may also, for example, encounter Tresher Sharks, Bull Sharks and Hammerheads as well as the gentle Giant the Whale Shark.
When to go diving in South Africa?
If you go diving in South Africa, it is important to remember that the seasons are different meaning that the summer season is from November until February.This is when most people opt to visit on a dive holiday, but you could go during any time of the year.
However, if you go outside of the South African summer, diving around the Cape is not advisable, as the water temperatures drop significantly. Sodwana Bay, however, can be visited all year around. There are a multitude of dive operators in South Africa and most offer courses and certification programmes.
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High standards when diving in South Africa
The standards of diving are very high compared to other parts of the world, so you are sure to learn how to dive properly. Dive operators tend to have an excellent knowledge of the local area, both under and above water. They also have equipment that is well maintained and very good boats. This is because competition is fierce and operators have to offer an exemplary service in order to get customers.
South Africa actively pursues an increase in its diving tourism, which obviously has an environmental impact on the underwater world, so do remember that, as a diver, you have a responsibility towards marine conservation.
Whether you are an experienced diver or have only just started to show an interest in this fantastic sport, you can be sure that South Africa will have a dive site that is suitable for you. And of course, do take the opportunity to visit some of the country itself. It will certainly leave a lasting, positive impression on you.
What are your thoughts about diving in South Africa? Let us know in the comments below
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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.