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Diving in South Africa: Everything you need to know

First article

By @OL_tours, September 8, 2014

South Africa is best known for diving with sharks – people travel from all over the world to climb in a cage and drop in the water to be face-to-face with the notorious great white shark – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what South Africa has to offer bellow the surface of the water!

“What makes scuba diving in South Africa so special is the enormous diversity. You can’t experience this anywhere else in the world”

South Africa has it all – beautiful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish in the far north at Sodwana Bay; sharks in all shapes and colors, especially around Aliwal Shoal; and beautiful ship wrecks, kelp-forest diving and macro life in the temperate waters of Cape Town. 


Not for the faint hearted

Diving in South Africa is not like in the Netherlands Antilles or Egypt. Expect exciting boat launches, big waves and sometimes strong currents. But believe us, it’s worth it! 


Most dive sites you can be reach via boat, which you launch through the surf with the help of the local crew members – the first time is an exciting experience – upon return, the beaching at full speed is really exceptional!


Boot lancering in Sodwana Bay
Sodwana Bay boat launch: “One, two, three … PULL!”


The diversity of marine life

Between South Africa and Mozambique lies a huge sprawling coastline, with the Indian Ocean in the north and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. This offers you the opportunity to dive in two oceans during your holiday which brings a wide variety of marine life, ranging from huge migrating whales, schools of dolphins and whale sharks to macro photography subject like the Mantis shrimp, gorgeous brightly colored anemones and rare nudibranchs . 


Cape Agulhas – where two oceans meet


Activities above water

What makes South Africa one of the best dive destinations in the world, is the vast amount of activities you can partake in above water. In addition to marine activities like surfing, kite surfing, whale watching and dolphin watching, you can also visit Safari parks, go hiking through beautiful & unspoilt countrysides, climb Table Mountain, or you can choose for more adventurous activities like sea kayaking, bungee jumping, skydiving or abseiling. 

Best scuba diving seasons

Because of the many dive sites and the two different oceans there is always something to see throughout the year. In the diagram below we have highlighted the seasons for the most popular species (the darker the color the more likely you will see them). This is not to say that you won’t come across anything off season, but that you’ll have less chance.

Likewise for the safari season: The best time is in the winter when there is not much vegetation where the Big 5 can hide behind. The overland truck from Ocean Legends Tours, which we travel with on our tours, is high and has large windows which allows you to look out further – so you can spot the animals out of season as well.


The darker the color, the more likely you'll have a chance to have an encounter.
The darker the color, the more likely you’ll have an encounter.


Best time to travel

In South Africa and Mozambique, the seasons are exactly opposite to ours: for example, in our winter it’s summer over there. That’s not to say it can not be nice weather in the South African winter, sometimes the winters are even more enjoyable than the summers in Europe! 

  • September 8, 2014