Top 10 dives sites off the coast of South Africa


South Africa has some of the best scuba diving in the world. But there are so many great choices, where do you start? Wayne Coetzer, General Manager of the Oyster Box hotel has been busy researching the subject and here are the top 10 favourites, with something for everyone.


14th July 2011

The Oyster Box
Wayne Coetzer

Wayne Coetzer

1. Sardine Run — Protea Banks, KwaZulu Natal

If you’ve not heard of the Sardine Run, check out our earlier post. It’s an awesome event that occurs in June and July as massive schools of sardines start their migration from the colder depths of the Cape and move to the warmer waters of KwaZulu Natal near the Oyster Box

As you’ll see from this video you dive to depths of about 5–7 meters and watch as dolphins, whales, sharks and even the Cape Gannet (dive bombing from above) tuck in to sardine supper.

2. Hotspot — Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal

Sodwana Bay offers a host of great dives but this one is all about Zambezi and Tiger sharks, spectacular whipcorals, game fishing, and blue and gold Fusiliers. You start from a 100 meter long ledge and reach depths of 27–30 meters. Two longnose Hawkfish hide under the overhang of black coral. There are caves, pinnacles and lots of sharks for the adrenalin junkies.

3. Clifton Rock — Cape Town

Clifton Rock sits in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 meters off the shore south-west of Cape Town. It encompasses an area with a large number of boulders, creating wonderful swim-throughs and secret spots for marine life including nudibranches, starfish, soft sponges and crayfish.

This is a great intro for new divers still getting into their swing and a great activity to enhance your long summer days with some sunbathing on the beach and a new experience that is both fun and definitely refreshing!

4. Uniforms — Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal

This Sodwana Bay dive site is situated in iSimangaliso Wetland Park north of Durban. Known for its coral diversity, the best time for diving here is said to be between April and September even though that is when the water is at its coldest. If you prefer the summer water temperatures of about 25 degrees during the months of December and January you are set for a treat as this is the time the turtles lay their eggs.

This dive spoils you with its layered contoured coral and ocean beauties such as the Tiger Angelfish, purple butterfly fish, yellow tail goldie and much more….


Tiger Shark

5. Raggie Cave / Shark Alley — Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu Natal

Two names for the same dive site situated off the coast of KwaZulu Natal at Aliwal Shoal. It is made up of an 80,000 year old sandstone reef and has been selected as one of the top ten dives sites of the world promising almost anything a diver can wish for. From June through November you are sure to see Ragged Tooth Sharks and in summer you are most likely to see Tiger sharks and Hammerheads!

6. Avalanche Reef — Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Known for its beautiful coastal scenery, Port Elizabeth is a hub of outdoor water activities and offers some great dive sites. The water temperatures are definitely some of the coldest so if you own a dry suit it is advisable to use it.

This dive takes you to a gorgeous, densely populated coral reef – it’s an amazing experience that’s well worth braving those cold waters!

7. Haerlem Wreck — Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

This dive takes you to depths of about 18–21 meters. Haerlem Wreck is all that’s left of a navy frigate that, scuttled in 1987, has become an artificial reef perfect for divers. She has settled 21 meters below the surface, with her bow to the south and has created holes, nooks and crannies for the curious diver keen to encounter some shy sharks, a variety of fish and soft coral.

Scuba diving


8. A Frame — Simonstown, Cape Town

Located 5km south of Simons Town, the A Frame area consists of 3 shore dives — one of which is also called the A Frame, said to be named after the small cave entrance shaped in an A. As you make your way from the white beach sand into the water it’s a perfect spot for a night dive. You can expect to see pipefish, lobsters, seals, several types of rays and some harmless sharks such as pyjama sharks and dogfish.

9. Storms River Mouth — Mossel Bay, Garden Route

Mossel Bay is well sheltered and offers one of the “mildest climates of the world”. This dive location is perfect for adrenaline junkies as it is well known for its shark cage diving where you will see Great Whites feeding. For those on the other end of the adrenalin-spectrum, Storms River Mouth is the location for you, as it is all about gorgeous reefs and big fish! With the drop off being quite tame it is also possible to do some night diving which is a whole new experience and very exciting.

10. Paquita Wreck — Knysna Heads, Garden Route

Situated in the small touristy town of Knysna, found on the Garden Route, this dive (to depths of up to 20 meters) promises to be one of the best wreck dives you will see around these parts. The Paquita, a 460 ton German vessel, ran ashore in 1903 when she struck the Knysna Heads en-route to Barbados. This dive is all about timing as it is located on the mouth of a large lagoon where tides get pretty rough.

Seahorses, Steenbras and gorgeous corals are just some of the marine life you will see.

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