Diving in South Africa offers opportunities you may not get anywhere else. You can explore incredible reefs and dive right alongside sharks. You’ll also enjoy great visibility and a wide variety of wonderful marine life.
Many divers flock to South Africa because the variety of species of sharks available for viewing is really unlike any other. Here, we let you in on essential things you need to know about heading to South Africa and which sites you must see.
South Africa: Things You Need to Know
Before we explore the different diving locations in South Africa, let's learn when to visit the country, how to get there, and the things you expect to see.
Best Time to Visit
The topography in South Africa is quite varied, which means there are several different climate zones. Those zones range from the desert all the way to subtropical. In the Cape Town area, you are likely to experience a climate similar to what you’d find in the Mediterranean.
That means hot and dry summers and wet winters. The temperatures in the winter can get all the way down to almost zero. Summers can get up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
What You’ll See
Scuba diving in South Africa will allow you to dive with gigantic creatures. It is one of the most sought-after destinations for those who want to dive with sharks, specifically.
During the Sardine Run, divers can witness hundreds of sharks, including coppers, hammerheads, great whites, and the Zambezi. At the same time, you can also witness tuna, dolphins, and humpback whales.
You won’t only see incredible marine life during the Sardine Run. If you move off the coast of Gansbaai, you can cage dive alongside great whites at any time of the year. Aside from sharks, there are incredible varieties of marine life to see throughout the year. Whales, for example, are best seen from June through November while you can see seals at any time of the year. That applies to dolphin viewings, too, which are frequent at all times of the year.
South Africa is quite diverse and expansive. Aside from diving, you can also explore mountains that can be climbed using switch-backing roads. There are also incredible rivers to explore that cut right through the landscape.
You can get to South Africa by land or air. Most scuba divers get there through the Cape Town International Airport. That isn’t the only option, though. There is also the Tambo International Airport located in Johannesburg.
Taxis are available throughout the country, and there is an impressive bus system available as well. It's also possible to rent a vehicle in order to do more independent exploring of what the country has to offer to its visitors.
Diving in South Africa: The Best Locations
There are plenty of magnificent diving sites in South Africa. What is great about South Africa diving is that all levels of divers can enjoy it.
There are, however, some spots reserved just for the most experienced. If that isn’t you, you want to really pay attention to where you hope to dive.
Some currents are simply too strong for divers who don’t have a lot of experience. You also want to make sure you bring the right accessories with you. Here, we have highlighted the top four diving sites in South Africa. These are sites you really cannot stand to miss.
1. Aliwal Shoal
This is a scuba diving site suitable for all levels of divers. There are plenty of sharks to be seen, including tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, and bull sharks.
You are also likely to see groupers. They are attracted to the area by the incredible corals and sponges that are all over the various rock formations.
There are powerful currents in this area, but there are also plenty of specific sites that you can choose from, so even beginners will find sites that suit them. Two of the more famous sites that are great for beginner divers are Inside Edge and North-Eastern Pinnacles.
The North-Eastern Pinnacles are home to clownfish, potato grouper, and moray eels. The Inside Edge offers plenty of beautiful marine species, including moray eels, rays, dolphins, and lionfish.
There is also the Outside Edge that will give you great views of together sharks and hammerhead sharks. There are shipwreck locations to explore as well, including the MV Produce and the SS Nébo.
2. Sodwana Bay
This dive site sits right off the southern border of Mozambique. Here, you will find what a protected nature reserve is. The seabed in this location will take your breath away. You’ll witness 50 different species of coral as well as 1200 fish species.
Other marine life includes tiger sharks, bulldog sharks, schools of a variety of fish, angelfish tiger, eels, and butterflyfish. You may even get to see humpback whales and whale sharks if you happen to dive on a lucky day.
3. The Garden Route
There is some really incredible scenery to witness under the water in this location. There are beautifully colored reefs, a wide variety of marine life, and some incredible falls.
You can dive at night to uncover some creatures not often seen by daytime divers, or you can even choose to dive in cages alongside great white sharks. All levels of divers are welcome at this site.
4. Protea Banks
In the Kwazulu Natal Region, you will find the enormous reef of Protea Banks. This dive site is known for its incredible wildlife.
You will likely see bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, blackhead sharks, tiger sharks, leopard sharks, and bulldog sharks. Those species of sharks are attracted to the area by the huge amounts of tuna found in the area.
The visibility at this site is really excellent, and the waters are warm. This makes for a very comfortable diving experience. However, the currents at this location can easily be described as violent. As such, the site can only be visited by the most experienced of divers.
South Africa allows you to scuba dive like you can’t do anywhere else. While the marine life is incredible, there are other unique things to see as well. Just ensure that you visit places suitable for your skill level.