Diving South Africa
A Spectacular Underwater Safari
Diving South Africa is as spectacular and exciting as the continent itself. Divers can experience big animal encounters at many dive sites and explore magnificent reefs that are home to a vibrant marine ecosystem. With a coastline that stretches 3000 km (1875 miles) and over 140 dive sites, South Africa diving offers one of the greatest diving adventures on the planet.
One thing that makes scuba diving in South Africa different than diving up north in Egypt and the Red Sea is there are two oceans on its shores. The cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean can be found on the coastline of the Western Cape, while the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean are carried down the coastline of the Eastern Cape by the Mozambique Current. Both areas have very different and unique marine environments.
Scuba Diving South Africa Highlights
The long coastline of South Africa offers a variety of diving. From the cold, temperate waters of the Western Cape to the warmer, tropical waters of Mozambique divers of all levels can satisfy their appetite for some really unforgettable scuba diving experiences.
The Western Cape
The cold waters around Cape Town offer some spectacular dive sites. The main attraction in this area is a low island a couple of miles off shore. At Dyer Island you can find some of the best shark diving in South Africa. Divers come from all over the world to jump in a cage and get eye ball to eye ball with one of the most awesome predators in the sea, the Great White shark.
Now this is not the only diving on the Western Cape. On the colder western shore, divers can see anemones and nudibranchs in many different colors from electric blue to deep red along with bright orange and yellow sponges as they float through amazing kelp forest. Diving with seals is offered in a few recommended areas and there are several wrecks that have been turned into good dive sites.
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The Eastern Cape
Along the shoreline of the Eastern Cape the marine environment will start to change. The cold water reefs and kelp forest are replaced by warmer water, coral reefs and a vibrant underwater world. This thriving marine community is home to over 1200 species of sea life.
South Africa scuba diving can become very extreme along the Eastern Cape. In the Durban area there are two challenging dive sites known for their adventure and thrills. Diving here can leave you absolutely breathless.
Aliwal Shoal is a must see when diving South Africa. This area is considered by many divers to have the best adventurous dive sites on the planet. The excitement starts with one of the most exhilarating surf launches found anywhere. Once pass the heavy surf divers are treated to a mixture of temperate and subtropical fish life. This mixture of species creates one of the most diverse marine environments in South Africa.
The shoal is known for its big animal encounters. At the right time of the year divers can see large numbers of ragged-tooth and Zambezi sharks. Also visiting the shoal are turtles and migrating humpback and right whales.
This dive site is in the path of one of the oceans most spectacular marine migrations. The Sardine Run is large shoals of sardines that travel more than 1,000 miles (1600 km) on an annual exodus.
Protea Banks is another great dive site that is close to Durban. The Banks are famous for thrills and offer some extreme South Africa scuba diving. Protea Banks is a reef with several dive sites deeper than 100 ft (33 m). The currents that sweep over the reef make for some awesome drift dives.
Another reason Protea Banks is a favorite site among the diving community is great shark encounters. This is a popular site for Zambezi and ragged-tooth sharks during their mating season. There is also the possibility of spotting tiger sharks and hammerheads. These great ocean predators make this a very challenging dive site and not for the faint-hearted.
Sodwana Bay is the next stop on this South Africa scuba safari. This remote region is another location that you do not want to miss when diving South Africa. Sodwana Bay boasts the only coral reef dive site in South Africa and is home to over 1000 species of fish. In addition to a stunning array of tropical marine life whale sharks, manta rays and whales are occasional visitors to the Bay.
Half the adventure of Sodwana Bay is getting there. Traveling through dense brush and dirt tracks, the journey to Sodwana is a considerable task. The reward for this journey is being able to experience some of the best coral reef diving on the continent.
To the north of Sodwana lies 1500 miles (2400 km) of one of Africa's wildest coastlines. Famous for it's great marine diversity and big animal encounters, scuba diving Mozambique gives divers a chance for some truly world class diving.
Essential Information About Diving South Africa
Scuba diving in South Africa is possible year round depending on the location you want to dive. It's best to check with local dive operators before planning g your trip. They can tell you what if any dive sites are closed because of rough conditions or bad visibility and what big animals might be on the prowl during the time of your visit.
Because of the long coastline in South Africa, the water temperature will vary. Here is the average water temperature for the different regions along the coast.
The coldest time of the year is from May to August (winter) and the warmest time is in January and February (summer). Unlike other dive locations, the water in South Africa is coldest in the summer. So, the best time of the year to plan a dive trip to S.A. is in March, April, May, June, July and August. The average visibility will range from 3-20 meters (1-60 feet).
Diving South Africa is a must for divers looking for adventurous diving. The area is renowned for its many miles of unexplored reefs, spectacular marine life and everybody’s favorite, shark encounters. With a highly developed dive industry, South Africa makes a perfect dive destination.