The South African coastline is a treasure trove of reefs, kelp and incredible marine animals…
The warm waters of KwaZulu-Natal, the chilly waters of the West Coast, and the temperate waters in-between mean that, no matter where in South Africa you are, there are stunning opportunities for snorkelling and SCUBA diving.
Here are some of the top spots for experienced and newby divers to visit:
Any seasoned diver will tell you that Sodwana is a must. It is only 100km from the border of Mozambique on the east coast and is home to tiger sharks, Zambezi sharks, colourful butterfly fish, long-nosed hawkfish, and endless varieties of vibrant coral.
It is varied enough to offer safer spots for beginner SCUBA divers and snorkellers, but there are some excellent technical spots for experienced divers that are up for a challenge. On the beach, the turtles may even be laying their eggs, which is always a humbling and impressive sight.
Head under the water’s surface of the Friendly City to see some of South Africa’s most gorgeous reefs. These are home to an amazing variety of colourful fish, and sharks (leopard-, pyjama-, hammerhead- and cat sharks being just some of the highlights).
You may even come across the Haerlem Wreck, which sunk to 21 metres and is now home to exquisite marine flora and fauna. The beaches are also stunning, so those not heading in for a dive can tan, eat or shop on land. Snorkelling and diving are equally rewarding here, thanks to the colourful coral gardens and inquisitive octopuses.
Brave SCUBA divers who want to see hammerheads, raggies and tiger sharks love the waters of the Aliwal Shoal in KwaZulu-Natal. Just south of Durban, this boasts an ancient sandstone reef, as well as the haunting remnants of a few wrecks, which have combined to create a spectacular habitat for these sharks and an array of other fish and coral species.
Shark snorkelling trips allow young and old alike to swim with these magnificent predators without SCUBA experience. This has earned this spot the title of being one of the top diving destinations in the world.
Perched on the scenic Garden Route, Mossel Bay is famous for its shark cage diving. But, these waters are home to many more species than just the impressive great white.
The many reefs are home to blacktail, red bait, sea fans, octopuses and featherworms, amongst other exciting species. The shallow reefs that are close to the shores are excellent for snorkellers to explore, while SCUBA divers should try a night dive for an added adventure with a twist.
The area around Cape Vidal has sheltered, warm waters that make it ideal for safe snorkelling. There is plenty of life to see and the coral reefs are breathtaking in their beauty and variety. The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is particularly lovely, as the waters at the mouth of the Kosi Lakes are teeming with life. Maputaland is in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
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While there are some great SCUBA diving spots along the Garden Route, in and around Knysna, this is also a fabulous spot for some relaxed snorkelling.
The lagoon and Coney Glen have plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, where cuttlefish, octopuses, and the endemic Knysna seahorse can be seen. The waters are usually very calm, and temperate enough, especially in summer.
South Africa has plenty of accommodation along the coastline, which is ideal for SCUBA divers and snorkellers who want to head into the waters to explore them. SA-Venues.com lists thousands of establishments and offers a direct booking facility for each, as well as plenty of information about the attractions and activities around them.