From cage-diving with sharks to taking a dip in stunning kelp forests, the South African coastline is a scuba diver’s ultimate playground. First Car Rental recently put together a list of some of the best places to dive in South Africa. In part two of this info-filled travel guide, we’ll be checking out some great dive spots from KwaZulu-Natal to the Western Cape (click here if you missed part 1 of the series).
6. Rocktail Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Rocktail Bay is situated along Maputaland’s coastline, within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Just offshore is the Maputaland Marine Reserve, which offers sanctuary to abundant marine life including coral reefs, fish, and various whale and dolphin species.
The bay got its name after a trawling ship, the Rocktail, was wrecked offshore. However, it is known today for its unspoiled dive spots as well as its popularity amongst loggerhead and leatherback turtles that come here to lay their eggs on the sandy beaches.
7. Protea Banks, KwaZulu-Natal
Situated off the shore of Shelly Beach, Protea Banks is one of the world’s top shark diving destinations. This unique reef system along the KwaZulu-Natal coast offers diving experiences second to none. The main attraction is the vast number of game fish, but the reef is especially known for its large “Zambezi” (Bull Shark) populations; other sharks that frequent Protea Banks include ragged-tooth sharks, hammerheads and blacktips.
The annual Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon which usually occurs during June and July, when massive schools of sardines migrate from the colder waters around the Cape to the warmer waters of KwaZulu-Natal. Divers dive to depths of about five to seven metres and to watch as game fish and other predators such as sharks, dolphins, whales and Cape gannets all try their luck at catching the sardines.
8. Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Port Elizabeth is one of South Africa’s best cold water dive locations, offering a wide variety of colourful reefs, it is regarded as one of the most magical places to visit for diving.
The HMS Harlem, a navy frigate scuttled in 1987, is the best wreck dive in this area. The Harlem lies some 20 metres below the surface and has created an artificial reef for diving, with various nooks and crannies that are inhabited by sharks, corals and a variety of fish.
9. Knysna Heads, Western Cape
Knysna is a small town situated along a lagoon which is connected to the ocean through the Knysna Heads. Knysna offers excellent diving, both in the lagoon and in the open sea. Diving along the Knysna coastline is a great experience, and the lagoon here is home to the world’s only estuarine seahorse species.
There are numerous shallow-shore dive sites in the lagoon; however one of the more interesting dives is the wreck of the Paquita, a German iron vessel that sank in 1903, at the edge of a large lagoon. Outside the Knysna Heads is an area of many overhangs, caves and canyons that provide a breath-taking experience. Sponges, corals and fans all animate the underwater world, and the marine life ranges from tiny seahorses to large predators such as sharks.
10. Cape Peninsula, Western Cape
The Cape Peninsula, celebrated for its great scenic beauty, provides access to two oceans, and thus offers some great diving spots in two very different ocean environments. The temperatures in the two oceans differ considerably and are responsible for the remarkable diversity of underwater life and scenery.
The Cape Peninsula and False Bay region includes well over 100 dive sites, ranging from wreck dives, reef dives and kelp forests to seal dives and shark cage-diving.
If you missed the first installment of the series, you can find part 1 here .