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South Africa Scuba Diving

INTRO

Right at the very bottom of the vast African continent, lies a country aptly named South Africa. This may come as a surprise to some, but South Africa has a lot more to offer than just funny accents and safari parks; it’s an enormous, beautiful, multicultural country and it offers some of the best diving in the world!

It has a stunning 1700-mile coastline that’s as varied as it is massive, spanning across two oceans. Both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean hug this enormous coastline with their big, wet, oceany arms.

South Africa is incredibly biodiverse and varied on land as well as underwater. It’s home to an incredible variety of sea creatures from tiny colorful nudibranchs and starfish to massive humpback whales and the famous great white.

The seascapes are diverse, featuring dramatic rock structures, colorful reefs, sandy banks, kelp forests and a myriad of shipwrecks!

Just a heads up: many of the dive spots in this article lie within marine protected areas (yay for conservation!) and require that you have a permit in order to dive. These permits can generally be acquired from any local post office. The money from permit purchases contributes to the preservation of these beautiful areas, so don’t be shellfish, get a permit!

Alright Squad, without further adieu, here are the best places to dive in South Africa!

SHARK FACT

What sense do sharks have that is beyond our comprehension!? Hover Over this box to Find Out...
Electromagnetic Fields Detection! Sharks have small black spots near the nose, eyes and mouth called Ampullae Lorenzi. These are special electroreceptor organs that allow sharks to sense electromagnetic fields and temperature shifts in the ocean!

KwaZulu Natal Diving

One of South Africa’s 9 provinces, KwaZulu Natal is located in the Northwest corner of the country. This is where you’ll find South Africa’s warmest water, and is as close to tropical as the country gets.

The warm waters create ideal living conditions for humpback and southern right whales, a plethora of sharks sharks (hammerhead, Tiger, Bull, ragged-tooth to name a few), manta rays, dolphins, and eagle rays amongst many others! You’ll also find leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles living in Kwazulu Natal’s welcoming waters!

We’ll spend most of this article discussing the KwaZulu Natal diving spots, as they’re generally considered to be the best in the country.

The climate is subtropical, and the province tends to get summer (October – February) rainfall.

Sodwana Bay

Often considered one of the most popular dive spots in the world, Sodwana Bay is a beautiful, rural national park, around 300 miles north of Durban and 60 miles south of Mozambique (South Africa’s gorgeous coastal neighbor to the northwest). This bay contains some of the most southernmost coral reefs in the world!

The diving here is awesome and certainly some of the best in the country. The bay is comprised of several coral reefs that run parallel to the shore at different distances from Jesser point (the launch point). All of the reefs are offshore and accessible by boat.

These pristine and expansive 4000-year-old coral reefs are incredibly biodiverse with around 95 species of coral, and 1200 species of other marine creatures. The reefs are generally quite flat with shallow drop-offs and low pinnacles.

The sandstone reef rock on which the coral resides is made up of an ancient fossilized dunescape – the remains of what was once a beautiful beach with rolling dunes around 80,000 years ago. This ancient terrain makes up a gorgeous underwater vista, filled with color and life.

The name of the bay is actually rather endearing; Sodwana means ‘little one on its own’ in Zulu (a native local language). Fortunately, in the big scary world of today, Sodwana is not on its own; it forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (a UNESCO world heritage site) and is a marine protected area!

If you’re looking for places to stay in Sodwana Bay, check out the accommodation section. We’ll recommend a place to stay near each dive spot after giving you the dive details!

Diving Insurance in South Africa

SPLASH! It’s important to remember that scuba diving is an extreme sport. Accidents can happen. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.

What’s more, because diving can take you all around the world, it’s absolutely essential you make sure you are properly covered by the best scuba diving insurance before leaving your home country.

We recommend going with Dive Assure. Why?

  • Unbeatable prices.

  • They offer both short term and long term insurance.

  • Cover loss of diving equipment, emergency medical and evacuation expenses and flight/accommodation costs following injury.

Sodwana Bay Quick Stats:

Experience Required –  There are dive sites suitable for divers of all experience levels!

Depth – The depth at the popular dive spots ranges between a few meters and 30 meters. Many of the reefs don’t exceed 18 meters.

Visibility – Visibility varies greatly, generally between 10 and 40 meters. It tends to be best in the winter months (May / June).

Temperature – Average water temperature in Sodwana is a very comfortable 25 °C, with a 21 °C degrees minimum, and a maximum of around 28 °C.

When to dive this spot – Thanks to the warm waters and good visibility, Sodwana Bay is ripe for diving all year round. However, visibility tends to be at its best between April and September, which happen to be the colder months.

The water is generally warmest around December / January – when turtles lay their eggs!

Morning sessions are generally best as the wind and waves tend to pick up in the afternoon.

Common sightings – The large number of species inhabiting this relatively small series of reefs makes Sodwana an incredibly species-dense area.

If we had to name all of the awesome species you find here, this article would be longer than South Africa’s coastline! So we’ve listed a few of the most exciting sightings below.

Turtles, whale sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, a vast diversity of nudibranchs, bottlenose dolphins, variegated paperfish, Durban dancing shrimps, seahorses, snapper and goatfish, potato bass and longnosed emperors.

Popular diving sites

  • 2-mile reef (Largest and most popular)
  • Stringer
  • ¼ mile reef
  • Bikini reef system
  • Uniforms
  • Hotspot
  • 7-mile reef

SodWana Bay Best PADI Operator

  • PADI Five Star Gold Palm Instructor Development Center.

     

  • Accommodation also offered. 

  • Offer awesome courses, dives, programmes and internships in Sodwana Bay.

     

  • The dive leaders are highly experienced – between them, they have over 20,000 dives in Sodwana Bay!

Best Luxury Accommodation in Sodwana Bay for Scuba Divers

Just a short 10 minute drive from Jesser Point (the launch point for diving in Sodwana Bay) is Jesser Point Boat Lodge. It’s a complex divided into multiple comfortable apartments, surrounding a beautiful courtyard.

The courtyard itself contains an outdoor BBQ area and a great swimming pool. The lodge also offers billiards and table tennis – a great way to spend a relaxed evening after a big day of diving.

All of the units come with a well equipped kitchen (stove, oven, microwave, toaster, kettle). They also each have air conditioning and flat-screen TVs with satellite channels. Some even have balconies! There is also secure garage parking and 24-hour security.

Aliwal Shoal

The Aliwal Shoal is situated further down the country than Sodwana, around 30 miles south of Durban, on the South coast of KwaZulu Natal. It’s an ancient fossilized sandbank, about 1 mile wide. This exceptionally biodiverse rocky reef is regularly voted amongst the top 10 dive spots in the world!

Aliwal Shoal is unique in its diverse offering; in a relatively small area, it offers fantastic reef diving, wreck diving, and shark diving. The swell at the Shoal is big, with an average annual swell of 8.2ft.

The main attraction to Aliwal is the abundance of marine creatures – but it’s particularly famous for the immense range and number of sharks that can be spotted in the area.

It’s best known for the vast number of grey nurse sharks, (known locally as ragged-tooth sharks or raggies), who congregate here to mate between July and November.

There are two shipwrecks in the area; The Nebo wreck and the Produce wreck (sunk in 1884 and 1974 respectively). These wrecks offer amazing structures to explore, covered in moss and teeming with tropical fish.

Neither of the wrecks resulted in fatalities, so you can dive in peace without any ghosts following you around! Unfortunately for beginners, these wrecks are reserved only for advanced divers.

The reef makes for an interesting seascape, with many caves (such as Raggies cave), pinnacles, and gullies. There are also large reef walls and several swim throughs. Whilst coral is not as prominent a sight here as in Sodwana, there are still several species of hard and soft coral on the reef. Mostly though, the terrain is dominated by sponges and algae.

The Shoal is located near the small town of Umkomaas, around 5 km from its shores, and is accessible by boat. The town was named after the uMkhomazi River that flows through it, which in turn translates to ‘watering place of the whales’ in Zulu.

It’s no surprise then that each year, numerous humpback whales pass right by Aliwal Shoal during the winter months as they migrate north to Mozambique’s warmer waters. Quite a spectacular sight!

Aliwal Shoal lies within a protected area and no fishing is allowed on the dive sites. Divers are also not allowed to touch the animals or the reef, and can’t take anything other than shark teeth found in the sand! These rules help to conserve this stunning natural world beneath the waves.

The Diving Squad Scuba Camera of Choice

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Aliwal Shoal Quick Stats

Experience Required – Most of the Shoal is suitable for all levels of diver, except for the shipwrecks which are both fairly deep and reserved for experienced divers (PADI Adventure diver qualification – 3 adventure dives under the belt).

 

Depth – Most of the reef complex is between 6m and 32m in depth. The Nebo wreck sits at 26m, while the Produce sits at 30m.

 

Visibility – Excellent visibility due to the Mozambique current. Ranges between 5m and 40m, but is generally at least 15m.

 

Temperature – Generally between 18 °C and 26 °C.

 

When to dive this spot – There is shark activity at Aliwal Shoal all year round, but have a look at the species list below for when the different species are generally sighted. The winter months are best for the shipwrecks.

The annual sardine run is one of the largest marine migrations on earth and passes through Aliwal around June. As millions of sardines migrate north, the waters come alive with sea predators (and birds) all flocking toward the sardines in a feeding frenzy. If you’re lucky enough to catch some action, it’s certainly a spectacle worth seeing!

Common Sightings

 

Seasonal shark sightings:

 

  • Pelagic Black Tip Sharks: All year round
  • Raggies: June – November
  • Hammerheads: October – March
  • Whale sharks: December – February.
  • Tiger sharks: November – May
  • Bull sharks:   November – May

 

Humpback whales can be found here between May and November.

 

Other species include nudibranchs, manta rays, dolphins, turtles, eels, tropical fish, giant guitarfish, round ribbontail rays, eagle rays, dusky sharks and copper sharks.

Popular dive sites

  • Raggie Cave
  • Shark Alley
  • South Sands
  • Cathedral
  • Manta Point
  • Pinnacles

Best PADI Dive Operator around Aliwal Shoal

  • In Umkomaas & offers some great PADI certified courses and awesome dive experiences at Aliwal Shoal!

  • They also have lodge accommodation and amazing packages.

Best Affordable Place to Stay Near Aliwal Shoal for Divers

The elephants Tusk offers excellent accommodation in the town of Umkomaas, which is the closest town to Aliwal Shoal. The units here are very affordable and offer great value for money.

Located just a ½ mile from Aliwal Dive Center, this property is in a superb location for dive fanatics. There is a great outdoor swimming pool, and all guests have access to free WiFi! The hosts are kind, friendly, and welcoming too.

Each of the beautifully furnished units offer satellite flat-screen TVs, and a terrace with garden views! They are self-catered with nicely equipped kitchens, and they all have en-suite bathrooms. Bed and Breakfast provided!

Protea Banks Diving

Protea Banks is located offshore, about 5 miles from Shelly beach, a popular holiday destination 100 miles south of Durban.

It’s often agreed that this site is one of the best shark diving sites in the world. In fact, Protea banks reef has one of the widest varieties of shark species on Earth, and it’s not a rare occurrence to see 5 shark species in a single dive!

We’re afraid to say that beginners will have to sit this one out. The reef at Protea banks is all pretty deep.

The shallowest point is 27 meters below the surface, and in places, the reef reaches depths of up to 60 meters. Bottom times at Protea banks tend to be fairly short.

This depth alone means that Protea banks is not particularly ‘beginner-friendly’. The strong currents and shark density further reinforce this reef’s stance as being for experienced divers only.

There are two main types of dive that can be enjoyed in this area. The first is (cageless) baited shark dives, which allow for very close interaction with the magnificent toothy swimmers.

These dives tend not to go deeper than 10 meters, but divers have to be able to cope with strong currents and have good buoyancy. No sharks are harmed during these baited dives.

Protea banks also offer reef dives. The reef dives here are generally drift dives (where the diver is transported by the natural water currents) and allow the diver to witness sharks in their natural habitat, exhibiting natural behavior (unlike on the baited dives). These dives go deep though; 30 meters at the shallowest.

The Best Backpack for Scuba Divers!

After trying and testing an ocean of backpacks, we’ve come to the coralusion that the Dometool Waterproof Dry Backpack is the number one backpack for divers! Why? Well:

  • It’s completely waterproof and also floats.

  • Front zip pocket for easy access, waterproof storage of your phone, wallet, etc. 

  • Equipment ring at one side, water bottle bag at the other. 

  • PVC tarpaulin materials = resistent to tearing, corrosion and aging.

Protea Banks Quick Stats:

Experience Required – Naturally, partaking in either of these dives at Protea Banks requires that you have experience. You will need a PADI advanced open water diver certification (4 dives under the belt) (or equivalent).

 

Depth – Between 27m and 40m.

 

Visibility – Quite varied; generally between 4m and 40m, but often sits between 15m and 25m.

 

Temperature – Lowest temperatures are around 19 °C and highest are around 25 °C.

 

When to dive this spot – Protea Banks is diveable all year round, but you may wish to time your trip here with shark seasonality, depending on what you wish to see. The sardine run also passes through here around June.

Both Scalloped hammerheads and great hammerheads can be found at Protea banks in the summer months, and are often found in schools of hundreds around November / December.

 

Seasonal shark sightings:

  • Raggies: April – November
  • Tiger sharks – February to September
  • Great and scalloped hammerheads: Summer (roughly October – March)
  • Bull sharks – All year round
  • Oceanic blacktip – All year round
  • Whale sharks – Summer (roughly October – March)

 

Other shark sightings include dusky and copper sharks. The humpback whale migration we spoke about earlier can also be witnessed from Protea Banks, and it’s home to a variety of game fish and friendly Potato Bass. However, Protea Banks is primarily a shark diving destination.

Popular dive spots

  • Southern Pinnacles
  • Northern Pinnacles

Best PADI Operator around Protea Banks

  • PADI certified Dive Centre.

  • Operates in the Protea Banks area.

  • They offer great baited shark dives, reef dives and courses.

Best Place to Stay Near Protea Banks for Divers

Tahiti Sands is located right on the Shelly Beach beachfront, with stellar panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Shelly Beach acts as the launch point for Protea Banks, and Tahiti Sands is just a 10 minute walk from Aqua Planet Dive Center, so getting out to these dives will be quick and easy.

The beautiful 3-bedroom apartments are incredibly spacious, and come with terraces overlooking the beach and the Ocean. There is an en suite master bedroom and an additional guest bathroom in each apartment, along with a fully equipped modern kitchen and flat-screen satellite TV.

There is an outdoor swimming pool, with an outdoor shower and a play area for children. 

Eastern Cape Dive Spots

The Eastern Cape is the large coastal province below KwaZulu Natal, on the east coast of South Africa, and has some great diving!

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth is not only the largest city in the Eastern Cape, but it’s surrounding waters also offer the best diving in the province.

The water here is far colder than up in KwaZulu Natal, but it’s also home to some gorgeous brightly colored coral reefs and a plethora of marine animals, including multiple species of rays and sharks!

The marine life is not the only attraction though; the area also offers dramatic rock formations, white sand reefs, and multiple shipwrecks. The colorful scenes created by the corals, sponges, sea fans, nudibranchs and fish life here are exceptional.

The mingling of the cold currents from the west coast with the warmer east coast currents creates an environment that is habitable for species from two different ecosystems, making it a unique and diverse diving location.

It also makes for a slightly different diving experience on either side of the peninsula around which the city is built.

The rocky reefs of Algoa Bay on the east side are more prone to brightly colored soft coral, sea fans and sponges.

The nutrient-rich waters of Wildside on the east side of the peninsula, create an environment more suited to hard and false corals. But there is no hard line and the whole area offers an interesting blend of wildlife.

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This stunningly presented book covers everything from Wrecks to Reefs, Muck Dives to Macro Photography, Blue Holes to Epic Walls and adrenaline soaked Drift Dives

Get inspired, learn something brand new and prepare for your next diving adventure.

This is hands down the most informative, stunningly presented and all encompassing scuba diving book known to Diving Squad. 

Port Elizabeth Quick Stats

Experience Required – Port Elizabeth offers dive sites for divers of all experience levels.

 

Depth – Depths range between 5m and 40m.

 

Visibility – Ranges between 1m and 20m. Averages 5m – 8m in the bay, and 10m – 15m on the Wildside.

 

Water Temperature – Generally between 15 °C and 19 °C and can get down to 11 °C on the Wildside with some deeper dives. Be sure to bring a dry suit if you have one.

 

When to dive this spot – Best visibility is generally in the winter months (June / July), though this is also the coldest time of year. You can experience the sardine run here around April and May, when the sardines are earlier on in their migration north and numbers are greater (not too many have been picked off yet!)

Sightings:

Amongst others, common sightings include raggies, shy sharks, multiple species of ray, nudibranchs, a vast variety of fish, and sometimes even great white sharks.

Popular dive sites:

  • Haerlem wreck
  • Evans peak
  • Shark Alley
  • Shy shark reef
  • Phillips reef
  • White Sands

Best PADI Operator around Port Elizabeth

  • Pro Dive Port Elizabeth is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center.

  • They offer awesome courses for all experience levels and some really fantastic dive experiences in the Port Elizabeth area.

  • They also offer a range of other activities such as kayaking and snorkeli

Best Luxury Accommodation for Divers in Port Elizabeth

This is only a 2 minute drive from Pro Dive Port Elizabeth, and located near the centre of the city’s peninsula. This makes it ideal for divers, as you’ll be pretty much equidistant (and a very easy drive) from both Wildside dives and Bay dives! It also offer a solid bang for your bucks.

The rooms are spacious and luxurious, decorated in a victorian style. They each have a large private bathroom feature stunning balconies with nice views. The outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by sun loungers, and the grounds also contain a tennis court!

If you’d like to enjoy some fine dining, Hacklewood Hill also has a great restaurant on site. The staff are friendly and professional too! The property is situated close to the airport, several restaurants, and the beach!

Best Mid Range Accommodation for Divers in Port Elizabeth

Located just a 3 minute drive from Pro Dive Port Elizabeth and well placed in the middle of the peninsula, Forest Hall Guest House offers fantastic mid-range accommodation for divers.

Each of the uniquely decorated, self-catering rooms feature patios overlooking the lush gardens, as well as private bathrooms, ceiling fans, and satellite TV. The garden surrounds an outdoor swimming pool where guests can sit and relax.

The property offers free WiFi, free on site private parking, and outstanding daily breakfasts are included. It’s close to the airport as well as the center of town and the beach! This guest house will give you high quality for a reasonable price.

Best Affordable Place to Stay for Divers in Port Elizabeth

Walmer Heights Guest House is a quaint and charming guest house also located near the center of the peninsula, just a 6 minute drive from Pro Dive Port Elizabeth. It’s affordable, but it certainly doesn’t skimp on features or comfort!

All of the rooms come equipped with a private bathroom, satellite TV, and tea and coffee making facilities. The grounds contain an outdoor swimming pool, barbecue area, and a hot tub which can be booked out for a fee – a great way to relax after a day of diving in chilly water!

There is even a fitness center on site! This spot is around 15 minutes from the airport and offers great value for your money.

Western Cape's Best Diving Spots

As the name suggests, the Western Cape lies further west than the aforementioned provinces. It’s a beautiful place and home to some unique diving spots.

Cape Town and Surrounding Areas

Don’t forget you can check out an entire Diving Squad Article all about Diving in Cape Town!

The very tippy tip of the country divides the Indian and Atlantic oceans, which meet around the city of Cape Town. On one side of the city’s peninsula, you can dip in the nippy Atlantic, yet just a short drive away on the other side, the warmer Indian Ocean welcomes you.

Although not quite as colorful as the dive spots up the east coast, Cape town’s diving is still varied and interesting. It offers immense kelp forests, rocky shores, sandy bottoms, reefs and a whole host of animal life, including great whites and Cape fur seals! The waters surrounding the Cape Peninsula are also home to countless shipwrecks.

False Bay, to the east of the city, is a hotspot for Great White Sharks and, if it’s your cup of tea, is definitely one of the best places in the world to go shark cage diving. If you decide to do so, make sure it’s with a reputable and ethically responsible company like this one.

The western side of the peninsula, known as the Atlantic Seaboard, has a fairly small shelf before dropping off into extremely deep waters. You’ll find very cold water on this side of the peninsula.

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Broadcaster, Natural Historian and Knight.

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This is an essential overview of why we should all be working together no matter where we are in the world to reduce the amount of plastic being produce. Diving Squad is thoroughly committed to ending plastic pollution and marine conservation. 

Cape Town & Surrounding Areas Quick Stats

Experience Required – Cape Town and the surrounding areas offer a huge variety of diving experiences,  with something suitable for everyone from beginners to veterans!

Depth – This is a large area, and it offers a great variety in depth, with dives ranging between 5m and 40m.

Visibility – Generally between 5m and 10m – occasionally up to 20m.

Temperature – The Atlantic side gets very cold. Temperatures generally range between 10 °C and 13 °C getting down to a minimum of 8 °C. False Bay is a bit warmer, generally sitting between 15 °C and 19 °C. Bring a dry suit to Cape Town – these are not warm waters!

When to dive this spot – The winter months are best when the northwesterly wind cleans and flattens the bay

Popular dive sites:

There are hundreds of dive sites around the Cape Peninsula and False Bay. We’ll briefly discuss a few good ones.

Windmill Beach offers a shore entry dive site, great for beginners and training dives. It’s shallow, calm, and sheltered. Expect to see sea cucumbers, shy sharks, pyjama sharks, nudibranchs, starfish, urchins, anemones and spider crabs in this kelpy boulder filled seascape.

A-Frame is a colorful shore entry dive site between 9m and 15m in depth. There is a swim through and a cave on at this dive site. Lots of colorful animal life, including shy sharks, pyjama sharks, rays and soles to name a few.

Katzumaru is a shipwreck on the Atlantic Seaboard, covered in beautiful coral. Suitable for intermediate to advanced divers.


Other popular dive sites include:

Other popular sites include: Clifton Rock, Smitswinkel Bay, Whittle rock, Justin’s Caves, Three Anchor Bay, SAS Pietermaritzburg, Aster Shipwreck and Vulcan Rock

Best PADI Dive Operator around Cape Town

  • Pisces Dive Center in Simonstown (Near windmill Beach and A-Frame).

  • This diving school offers awesome daily dive excursions and experiences.

  • They also offer the full range of PADI certified training courses.

Best Luxury Accommodation for Divers in Cape Town

Panacea is a stunning luxury guest house in Camps Bay, which sits on the Northwest of the peninsula in amongst all of the Atlantic Seaboard dive sites. 

The double story guest house is extremely spacious and can accommodate up to 10 people in it’s 5 bedrooms (some of which have panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean). The open plan fully equipped kitchen and lounge area opens out onto a gorgeous deck facing the ocean.

The deck features a swimming pool, a hot tub, an outdoor dining table, a barbecue and several sun loungers. There really isn’t a better spot to watch the sun sink into the Atlantic.

Best Mid Range Accommodation for Divers in Cape Town

The Flying Penguin offers awesome accommodation near Simon’s Town, right in the midst of the False Bay side dive sites (such as A-frame and Windmill Beach). The studio apartments are affordable and well equipped. They feature a private bathroom, a TV, free WiFi, a barbecue, and a patio with a sea view.

The apartments are well decorated and look out over the immense Indian Ocean. Guests have access to free parking. This property is close to several beaches, and a 10 minute drive from Pisces Dive Centre. It’s also just 5 minutes away from Boulders Beach where the famous South Africans penguins reside.

Best Affordable Place to Stay for Divers in Cape Town

Hout Bay is a suburb situated in between the Northwest dive sites and the East (False Bay) side dive sites. Tranquility is nestled amongst mountain greenery in Hout Bay – it’s about 40 minutes drive from Simon’s Town and 25 minutes from Camps Bay.

The apartments each offer a TV, comfortable beds, and a private bathroom. The property features a large outdoor pool and lush garden. Guests also have access to a spacious outdoor patio, free WiFi, and barbecue facilities!

Most Atlantic Seaboard dives can be reached within 10 – 30 minutes, and most False Bay side dives can be reached in around 30 – 50 minutes. Hout Bay beach and town center are just a 10 minute drive.

Garden Route Scuba Diving

The garden route is the stretch of road and surrounding areas winding between Mossel Bay and Storms River (following the coastline of the Western Cape). It’s stunning and very much worth driving if you enjoy a good road trip! It also offers a few gorgeous diving spots.

Both of the dive spots discussed below have sites that are suitable for divers of all experience levels.

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay offers some of the best diving in the Western Cape, with its vibrantly colorful reefs covered in sponges and fans. Some of the big sea creatures found here include dolphins, raggies, whales, turtles, manta rays and occasionally great whites. It’s also home to plenty a plethora of fish life, and a pair of shipwrecks.

Mossel Bay also offers a shark cage diving experiences that are less crowded than those in False Bay, and they also happens to be closer to the shore.

Phluffy reef is one of the top dive sites here, and it exhibits the best coral diving on the garden route.

 

Other popular dive sites include;

  • Santos Reef
  • Santos Wreck
  • Windvogel Reef
  • Sponge Reef
  • Mitches Reef
  • Butterfly Wall

Best Dive Opereator around Mossel Bay

  • One of the oldest and biggest diving clubs in South Africa, they have been operating since 1985!

  • They have trained thousands of divers…and underwater hockey players!

  • Offer a number of Scuba Diving Beginner and Speciality Courses.

  • Visit Mossel Bay’s best dive sites including Santos Reef, Santos Wreck, Butterfly Wall, Phluffy Reef & more!

Best Accommodation for Divers in Mossels Bay

A mere 2 minute walk from Adventure’s Edge Dive Centre, the location of 6 Clionella couldn’t be better for divers. It’s also situated just a couple of minutes walk from the beautiful Diaz Beach! This apartment can only accommodate 2 guests at a time, but is perfect for divers in Mossel Bay!

The apartment is well furnished and offers a balcony and stunning views of the Indian Ocean! It is self-catering, and comes with a well equipped open plan kitchen and a barbecue as well as a flat-screen satellite TV. The complex features an outdoor swimming pool in the garden and free private parking.

Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay (or Plett, as it’s referred to locally) also has some fantastic diving spots to explore. From colorful reefs to dramatic rock formations and white sandbanks, the diving here is varied and exciting. It’s also pleasantly colorful and plays host to a vast array of marine animals.

Some sightings around Plett include nudibranchs, octopuses, dolphins, whales, hammerheads, raggies, sea spiders, bull rays, stingrays, scorpionfish, shy sharks and catsharks.

A few of the best dive sites here (such as Groot Bank, Shallow blinders and Deep blinders) are shore-entry, making it affordable and easy to explore.

 

Popular dive sites include;

 

  • Groot Bank (dramatic topography, rich marine life)
  • Shallow Blinders (pinnacles, gullies, sharks)
  • Deep Blinders
  • Dolphins column
  • Virgin Reef
  • Jacobs Point
  • MFV Athina (wreck)

Best PADI Dive Opereator around Plettenberg Bay

  • Pro Dive Plettenberg Bay is the Plett branch of the Pro Dive Center.

  • It’s a PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center offering awesome dives, certified training.

  • They also offer other experiences such as surfing and snorkeling.

Best Accommodation for Divers in Plettenberg Bay

The Eleven offers 2 gorgeous apartments, within a stunning complex located just a few minutes drive (or a 15 minute walk) from Pro Dive Plettenberg Bay. This will make diving excursions blissfully accessible!

Each of the beautifully furnished, self-catered units have tiled floors, free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen, private bathroom, and a dining area. They also both have outdoor patio areas where you can spend relaxed, warm African evenings.

There is both a studio apartment, and a 3-bedroom apartment on offer, making this spot ideal for groups of varying sizes. These apartments are both great value for money.

South Africa Divers Packing List

Whether you decide to rent scuba gear or buy  your own, there are some essential items that won’t be provided for you. You would not want to go on your liveaboard adventure without: 

Reef Safe Sunscreen It’s a little known fact that some sunscreens contain products that are highly toxic to coral reefs. Dive responsibly, avoid burning to a crisp and use eco friendly sunscreen. 

Reef Safe Body Wash and Shampoo – Many brands of body wash and shampoo also contain chemicals that are toxic to coral reef and fish. Dive responsibility whilst still not smelling like a Dead Whale.

Diving Camera –  Any normal camera will break if taken diving – even if it’s waterproof it won’t be able to withstand high depth pressure and the focus will not be designed for underwater photography. To share your diving adventures with the world, make sure you have a proper scuba diving camera.   

Full Face Snorkel Mask – In between dives, you’ll get countless snorkelling opportunities on your liveaboard trip. For snorkelling, it’s much better to utilise a full face snorkel mask for maximum comfort and 180 viewing! The best ones have an attachment mount for GoPros. 

Reusable Water Bottle Having a durable, reusable and recyclable water bottle that’ll keep liquids cold is essential for both eco awareness and hydration = scuba success! We love the TankH2O – It is all of those things and looks like a scuba tank!

Microfibre Towel Essential for getting all those bits of ocean off you. Microfibre towels are compact, dry quickly and lightweight. To look like a ninja of the sea, wrap around face. 

Squad Inventory - Scuba Gear for South Africa

Ok Squad! Here’s the deal. Scuba Diving requires a ton of gear. This should come as no real surprise, considering that the very nature of this sport is to breathe underwater – the exact opposite of what us humans are evolved to do! 

When you go on your liveaboard adventure, you have two options on the gear front:

  1. You can either rent the gear, at an additional cost, per piece. This generally costs around $25 for a full equipment rental per day.

  2. Or you can buy and bring along some or all of your own scuba gear. This comes with two distinct advantages:

  • You get scuba gear that perfectly fits you and suits your tastes, budget and style. And hasn’t been peed in.

     

  • You will never again have to pay to rent scuba equipment! Think about all the diving you have ahead of you. Ultimately this can save a lot of money.

     

Below is a full listing and description of the entire inventory required to scuba dive. Let’s jump right in:

Diving Mask – Full Face Snorkel Masks are taking the world by storm but they can’t withstand pressure beyond several meters depth.  For diving you need an old school dive mask.

BCD – A BCD is the jacket divers wear to maintain optimum buoyancy, which they can adjust by operating the inflate and deflate buttons. This makes sure they neither sink to the bottom nor rise to the top of the water! As well as this, the BCD holds the divers regulator(s), dive gauge and air tank.

Regulator / Octopus – The regulator reduces pressurised breathing oxygen to ambient pressure and delivers it to the diver through a mouth piece. Remember, you need two – one for you and a spare for a buddy in case of emergencies!

Diving Torch – Absolutely essential for Deep Dives and Night Dives. So you can…you know – see. Bioluminescent plankton anyone? 

Scuba Tank – This contains the pressurised breathing gas – i.e. oxygen, that you will be breathing underwater (after it’s been reduced to ambient pressure by the regulator). Pretty essential right? 

Scuba Weight Belt – A diving weight belt assists with maintaining optimum buoyancy, by stopping divers from floating to the top of the water. How much weight you take will depend on your build, weight and diving ability.

Dive Computer – The Dive Computer is used to measure the time and depth of a dive. In doing so, it calculates a safe ascent profile, vital for avoiding decompression sickness. 

Dive Gauge – Essential for keeping track of your air consumption and the depth at which you are diving. The best ones also feature compasses and can read the water temperature (useful for bragging rights when you go on extremely cold dives!).

Scuba Fins – Fins greatly reduce water resistance when swimming and thus help to conserve energy and swim faster / against currents. They also allow you to unleash your inner mermaid/man. 

Dive Boots Designed to be worn under your fins, dive boots prevent rubbing and skin irritation from said fins – whilst also keeping your feet toasty and warm. 

Wetsuit – Crucial for keeping you warm. Even in hot countries, when you dive deep, it gets cold. Which one you pick will depend on the climate of where you’re diving. 

Ultimate Combo Package Whew! That’s a lot of gear we’ve covered. If you don’t yet have any scuba gear and want to bulk buy at great quality and value, this is the number one scuba starter pack out there.  

Diving Squad Debriefing

South Africa is a vast and magnificent country, with an enormous coastline, home to several of the worlds best diving spots. The seascapes range from dramatic and rugged, to soft and colorful, with everything in between!

It offers one of the most varied sets of diving experiences you’ll find anywhere in the world. Drift through dappled waving kelp forests, marvel at vibrant coral reefs, swim through dramatic rock structures, explore shipwrecks, or swim with the vast number of majestic sharks!

Whatever kind of experience you’re seeking on your diving adventure, we’re sure you’ll find it in South Africa.

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Help Diving Squad with Marine Conservation

EPIC FAIL HUMANITY:

  • Over 18 billion pounds of plastic enters the World’s Oceans every year. That’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic (Every. Year).

     

  • As well as containing it’s own toxic chemicals, like BPA, plastic absorbs even more potent toxins from other pollutants in the Ocean such as oil, untreated sewage and radioactive waste.

     

  • Plastic is indestructible and never degrades. Instead it simply breaks down into smaller pieces which accumulate together, en masse.

     

  • Today, each square mile of ocean has over 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

     

  • Plastic is mistaken for food and eaten by marine animals. Because it can’t be digested, it fills their stomachs and causes them to starve to death.

     

  • For those “lucky” individuals that don’t eat plastic, the toxic chemicals present in every part of sea water from plastic, wreck havoc throughout the ecosystem causing changes in animals behaviour, immune systems and reproduction.

     

  • There are 200 known ‘dead zones’, or areas deprived of oxygen and devoid of life, (area between 1 and 70,000 km²),  in the world ocean, due to plastic: this number has doubled every decade since 1960.

     

  • Chemicals in heavily polluted waters can make their way back to us and cause serious health issues like reproductive problems, hormonal problems, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.

     

  • It’s estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). AND IT’S GETTING WORSE

The Time to Act is NOW

To Diving Squad, the grizzly stats above are appalling, tragic and completely UNACCEPTABLE. That’s why we are working hard towards combating plastic pollution in the ocean.


How do we do this? Through spreading awareness, providing informative guides on eco friendly diving and donating
10% of all profits that we make towards combating plastic pollution in the Ocean.


So, how does Diving Squad make money? Through You! Every time you click on one of our painstakingly, yet lovingly researched liveaboard, gear or insurance links and spend money – we earn a % commission thanks to affiliate partnerships.


We then donate 10% of this towards Marine Conservation Schemes that target plastic pollution.


What does this mean? It means that if you book a Liveaboard through a Diving Squad link – some of that money goes directly towards Marine Conservation. Buy a piece of Gear through a Diving Squad link?

 Nice! You’ve just contributed money towards Marine Conservation. Booked yourself Diving Insurance through Diving Squad? Go, go Marine Conservation!


So help us…help you…help the Ocean. Together, we can do this.


To which Marine Conservation charity do we donate, you might ask?
Our squad is already hard at work selecting the ideal candidate. The winner will be announced at the end of 2019. Have a suggestion? We’d love to hear… If we pick your suggestion, there just might be something in it for you…


Contact us at: Alex Hatton:
[email protected] (Grand Admiral at Diving Squad).