Occupying the same slice of the Indian Ocean that’s home to the world-famous Sardine Run, KwaZulu Natal’s scuba diving opportunities are second to none. The region’s best dive spots offer reefs, wrecks and a rich variety of marine life – including plenty of ragged tooth sharks, whose docile nature makes them great diving companions. Whether you’re a curious beginner or a highly experienced diver, we’ve selected the most beautiful scuba diving spots in KwaZulu Natal to inspire your next adventure.
One of South Africa’s most acclaimed diving spots, Aliwal Shoal offers an irresistible combination of reef, wreck and shark diving an hour’s drive from The Oyster Box. Its Cathedral – a particularly lively section of reef lying 7km off the shore – is well worth exploring. Renowned for its busy marine life, divers can swim up close to the likes of loggerhead turtles, cuttlefish, Moray eels and ragged tooth sharks. Intrepid explorers can head to Raggie Cave, which is a (friendly) shark-infested hotspot from July through to December.
Alongside its cornucopia of marine life, Aliwal Shoal’s reef is home to two fascinating wrecks. Sunk in 1974, The Produce was a 2000-tonne bulk carrier. Now lying 100ft beneath the waves, it’s home to an astonishing assortment of fish, including several huge but friendly brindle bass who occasionally pop out to greet divers. Older still, the wreck of the SS Nebo, which fell victim to the reef in 1884, can be found 82ft down.
Divers make the 90-minute drive from Durban to Protea Bank for good reason – it’s a very special spot. The reef here is a fossilised sandbank located off Shelly Beach, and it’s well-known for its incredible wildlife. The Southern Pinnacles of Protea Banks teem with tuna and barracuda, which means that the area attracts large schools of sharks. It’s for this reason the site is considered one of the best places in the world for shark diving. Divers might well catch a glimpse of great hammerheads, huge but harmless whale sharks and Zambezi or bull sharks. Lucky divers may even spot a majestic Tiger Shark or two.
One of the top five dive sites on the planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sodwana Bay is a must-visit for those passionate about exploring the depths. At just under 350km from Durban, it’s a fair way to travel but serious divers won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to discover the marine wonderland hidden beneath the waves. Sodwana is home to the most southern coral reefs on the African continent. It hosts 1200 species of fish which, at a 10th of the size of the Great Barrier Reef, is an astonishing feat. Blissfully unspoilt, the site offers the chance to swim with the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles in the winter, while summer sees the arrival of humpback whales. Diving 7 Mile Reef, part of Sodwana Bay, is highly recommended on account of its exquisite coral and vivid assortment of fish and blacktip reef sharks.
Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Oyster Box for easy access to Kwazulu Natal’s prime scuba diving sites.
Image credits: lead image © iStock/ultramarinfoto. Shoal of fish © iStock/FionaAyerst. Diver © iStock/kanarys. Sodwana Bay © iStock/bennymarty.