When planning a vacation to South Africa, the first thing that comes to mind for most travellers is going on safari. The idea alone conjures up wonderful images of rolling plains, dense forest and magical sightings of the Big Five. And while elephants, lions and the rest of the squad are plenty to see, there is so much more than what meets the eye.
The beach bums and water babies out there will be ecstatic to know that South Africa’s coastlines are filled with diving opportunities. For every one terrestrial wonder is an aquatic spectacle waiting to be discovered. These stunning marine ecosystems offer beginner and advanced divers the change to see a network of life underwater. If you want to see the warm coasts, colourful reefs, sharky-waters and sandy beaches from a different angle, here are some of our five favourite diving spots:
Perfect for even the most novice diver, Gansbaai is most famous for its Great White sharks and cage experiences. You’ll also see plenty of seals and African penguins that attract the shoal just two hours east of Cape Town.
One of the more calm spots in South Africa, Sodwana has multiple dive sites that house over a thousand different species of fish. You can expect to see white-tipped sharks and turtles among others. With almost as much marine life as found in the Great Barrier Reef, Sodwana is known for its vortex created by the dive site walls that attracts diverse life. It also makes a great deep sponge dive experience.
If your heart can handle the adrenaline, get on your dive gear and climb into a cage to come face to face with a Great White. These majestic, yet fierce creatures will race around you leaving you in awe.
Located 5km off the coast, Aliwal Shoal – named after a sunken vessel nearby – boasts a huge variety of marine life. Explore the SS Nebo or the Norwegian bulk carrier for eels, colourful coral reefs and an array of tiny fish. Divers can also look forward to seeing Manta rays, humpback whales, dolphins, turtles and the Grey Nurse Shark.
The Great Sardine Run
Take the time to visit Umkomaas, a town that hosts the sardine’s annual migration from the coast of South Africa towards Mozambican waters. Gear up and go out on to the water to see millions of sardines travel fast enough to create an illusion resembling a stampede. During the sardine’s race against time, you will also witness larger, hungry fish trying to catch them.
From cold Atlantic waters to warmer Indian oceans, South Africa has a dive site for everyone’s taste and needs. Welcoming beginner divers to self-taught experts, these beautiful waters offer world class tropical and coral reefs, wrecks and underwater natural spectacles. You can sight big whales and scary sharks to comical sardines, squid and turtles. The list of marine wildlife waiting for you is endless.
For some of the Cape’s top destinations and other scintillating South African adventures, click here.