Snorkeling in South Africa: The Best Spots You Should Visit

snorkeling in south africa
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There are a plethora of fascinating snorkeling sites in South Africa that boast a large variety of thriving sea life and beautiful coastal plains.

In fact, its Sodwana Bay easily clinches third place among the six sites ranked worldwide.

The abundant presence of fascinating coral reefs, serene beaches, and mesmerizing elements of nature in these snorkeling locations make for an unforgettable trip.

If you're a snorkeling enthusiast and would love to have the South African experience, there are many destinations you can choose to visit.

If, however, you've never been to the country, you'll need tips on finding the best locations for snorkeling in South Africa.

Best Snorkeling Spots in South Africa

Although South Africa offers a great variety of exciting snorkeling destinations, here are the ones you certainly can’t miss:

1. The Sodwana Bay

Located in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa, the Sodwana Bay is a globally-acclaimed premium snorkeling location that offers an unforgettable and delightful experience.

Here, you can swim with whale sharks, dolphins, or a variety of tropical fishes in its beautiful ocean.

You'll be thrilled with the many golden beaches, lush vegetation, several bird species, lakes, and estuaries, too.

Besides diving into the pale blue ocean, there are plenty of things to do in the Sodwana Bay.

For instance, water sports lovers can scuba dive with Triton Dive Charters.

The sandy beach of the Bay is a great place to relax; if you're lucky, you might even find leatherback turtles nesting in the sand.

Other Things You Can Do

The Sodwana Bay National Park is where you can see zebras, birds, moray eels, and a variety of fish on the reefs.

The Futululu Park, Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Lake Mavuya, and the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park are other notable attractions in the area.

Where to Stay

Accommodation options are plenty in the area.

The Vis-Agie Resort hotel is affordable and offers only bed services for both local and international visitors.

The Crafters Lodge offers well-staffed, fully air-conditioned, and serviced chalets for visitors.

Other options are the Triton Dive Lodge and the Toad Tree Cabins.

2. Devil's Reef

The name, Devil's Reef, is ironic considering the experience you'll get at this blissful snorkeling site.

It’s located at the Port Elizabeth beachfront, which is a colorful reef that hosts a variety of fishes, sponges, seaweeds, and corals.

Dive this breathtaking reef over 150 meters offshore, and bask in the euphoria of adventure.

For a completely mind-blowing experience, check out the Postman's Reef.

It makes for a fantastic place to dive in the Port Elizabeth area.

Other Things You Can Do

Art lovers can visit the EzamaXhosa Craft, offering amazing African pottery, leather, carvings, bags, and clothing for sale.

You can equally have a fun time at the Boardwalk and Entertainment World with its 21 casino tables and 802 slot machines.

Other remarkable attractions in the area include the iBhayi Sunshine Saunter Reserve, Kragga Kamma Game Park, and the Groot River Pass.

There’s also the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club and the Fish River Country Club.

Where to Stay

Lodging in Port Elizabeth is not a problem.

The Margate Palace Guest House offers tourist-friendly accommodation, a swimming pool, and a relaxed pub area.

Other lodgings in the area are Beachway B&B, Cape Flame Guest House, the Blue Lotus Guesthouse, Carslogie House, and Brighton Lodge.

3. East London 

East London is the hub of water sports. You’ll find all types of water sports there, hence the nickname "water sports mecca."

It is one of the best locations for snorkeling in South Africa.

East London offers several incredible spots such as:

  • The Glen Eden Point
  • Mermaids Pool
  • Gonubie Point
  • The Orient Side of the Small Pier

The Glen Eden Point is a shallow dive, but with deeper waters around it.

Mermaids Pool is excellent for amateur divers and young people. Its depth is 1.5 meters.

Being to the Boulders Reef allows you to see a variety of fishes and other aquatic animals.

The Gonubie Point and the Orient Side of the Small Pier can often be stormy, but they are great places to dive after the winds are gone.

Where to Stay

Popular hotels in the area include the Hampton (a luxury accommodation), John Bailie Guest Lodge, the Paralian Exclusive Guesthouse, and Hoylake Inn.

If you intend to explore the area, then the Wesleyan Chapel and the Blaauwkrantz won’t disappoint.

4. Mossel Bay

Now, if you'd love to snorkel and scuba dive in a protected reef without paying a dime, then consider setting out for Mossel Bay.

Sitting comfortably between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, this beautiful destination offers you the opportunity to explore the underwater world.

Enjoy dives in the shallow reefs near the beach, or take a deep dive in the waters; whatever your preference is, you're guaranteed an unforgettable adventure.

Other Things You Can Do

The Mossel Bay is along the Garden Route, which means that you can go kayaking and canoeing on the water.

Other activities to keep you thrilled include Ultimate Shark Adventures, Tri-Sport, and Adventure's Edge Dive.

Where to Stay

If you need a place to stay, then check out Protea Hotel by Marriott, Santos Express, and Diaz Hotel and Resort.

Snorkeling in South Africa: When to Go

In KwaZulu-Natal, where you'll find the location of the famous Sodwana Bay, the climate is tropical, with an average minimum temperature of 68 °F.

This condition makes the region conducive for snorkeling any time of the year.

However, the Mediterranean climate is predominant in the Western Cape, where the Mossel Bay is situated.

It's best to visit this region between September and April when the average temperature is about 82°F.

In that way, you avoid the cold waters and sharp winds present during winter.

Conclusion

Snorkeling is a timeless tourist pastime, but excellent snorkeling reserves are only found in few places around the world.

South Africa is blessed with several of the best snorkeling spots, replete with other exciting side attractions, such as casinos, national parks, and hotels.

We’ve highlighted how impressive both the Sodwana Bay and the Mossel Bay.

Depending on the climate where you’re visiting from, you’ll find South Africa to have an ambient atmosphere for your snorkeling escapades.

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