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Top 5 dive sites in South Africa & Mozambique

First article

By @OL_tours, September 8, 2014

South Africa is known for the Big 5, Kruger Park, cage diving and the annual sardine run. Unless you like to scuba dive with sharks, you probably not as likely to choose South Africa as your next dive vacation. Which is very unfortunate, because there is so much to do more!

Between South Africa and Mozambique there is more than 5000 km of coastline. In the south you will find the Atlantic Ocean at the Western Cape, and in the north, the Indian Ocean at Mozambique. These two oceans offer an incredibly diverse marine life, from colorful soft corals, playful Cape fur seals and mysterious kelp forests full of life, to pristine tropical coral reefs, whales, manta rays and giant whale sharks.

Do you love diversity, adventurous activities above and below water and incredible natural beauty? Then the coast of South Africa and Mozambique, is the place to be!

1. Pyramid Rock – Cape Town, South Africa

Diepte Up to 18m – an average of 10m
Best dive time Throughout the year, although it is better between June and September due to less wind.
Water temperature 11-18°C
Diving equipment At least a 5mm wetsuit – most locals dive with a 7mm semi-dry or dry suit. Hood and booties are essential and gloves are usually a good idea. A dive light will bring the vibrant colors of the corals alive.



Gevlekte zevenkieuwshaai (notorynchus cepedianus)
Broad-nosed Sevengill Cowshark (notorynchus cepedianus)

Pyramid Rock is mainly dived for the cow sharks. This is the only place in the world where you can consistently dive with these sharks. It’s a great experience to see them glide slowly through the water.

This calm and curious sharks, that can reach a size of up to 3.5 m, circle the kelp forests and often come close to divers to get a better view, which makes for unique photos. They are also called the “wolves of the sea” because of their cooperative hunting behaviour of seals, which is very rare among sharks. This is a very safe dive, as the sharks are absolutely no threat to divers.

2. MV produce – Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Diepte Up to 32m – an average of 24m
Best dive time Throughout the year, but the conditions are best between May and September.
Water temperature 16-25°C
Diving equipment A 5mm wetsuit is usually sufficient – when appropriate add a hood, boots and gloves.



The wreck MV Produce – Aliwal Shoal

The best wreck dive in South Africa is located at Aliwal shoal. The “Produce” is full of life and is overgrown with coral. The 199m long cargo ship sank here in 1974 when it struck the reef.

The Produce is a fantastic dive, with some beautiful swim-throughs, through the old passenger corridors and the bridge of the ship.

Keep your eyes open for Brindle bass, which can get as big as 270cm and 400kg – imagine a Volkswagen Beetle with fins! The fish is very shy and often hides deep inside the wreck.

You could also find turtles, lionfish, scorpionfish, stonefish and large rays. The native Harlequin goldies can only be found here and on the other wreck in Aliwal, the Nebo.

3. Baited shark dive – Aliwal Shoal, Zuid Afrika

Diepte Maximaal 5m – gemiddeld 10m
Best dive time Throughout the year, but the conditions are best between May and September.
Water temperature 16-25°C
Diving equipment A 5mm wetsuit is usually sufficient – when appropriate add a hood, boots and gloves.



Baited shark dive – Aliwal Shoal

Besides Aliwal Shoal being one of Jacque Cousteau’s favourite dive sites, this reef is known as one of the best places in the world where you can safely dive without a cage between different types of sharks, including Tiger sharks, Zambezi sharks, hammerheads, Blacktip sharks and Sand Tiger sharks.

An experience not to be missed is the “baited shark dive ‘- By creating a scent-trail to attract the sharks. This is diving with sharks without a cage, and only for the real dare-devils!

The first time you see a shark, it literally feels like your heart stops beating! But after the initial shock wears off, you will notice how beautiful they move in the water and that in fact they are just curious. In one single dive you can be surrounded by 15 to 20 sharks. The dive is accompanied by a photographer / videographer, so you will have proof of your dive with these amazing predators!

4. Stringer – Sodwana Bay, South Africa

Diepte Up to 15m, 10m average
Best dive time Throughout the year, due to the subtropical climate.
Water temperature 19-28°C
Diving equipment 3 tot 5mm wetsuit



If you are lucky you may bump into a school of dolphins during the dive

The diving Mecca for locals is Sodwana Bay, a National Park that is located within the greater St Lucia Wetland Park which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The coral reefs here are vast and unspoiled.

The dive site Stringer may be small, but this shallow reef is a gem. Stringer consists of two rocky outcrops, full of life like small frog fish, ghost pipe fish, paper fish, zebra gobies, golden blennies and clown fish. A dream for every macro photographer.

crevices. Or, if you’re more interested in the bigger boys you will find there are many species of moray eels, turtles, rays, and if you’re lucky, a school of dolphins or the sound of whales as they swim past.

The reef is a nursery for young fish, so there are lots of colorful tropical fish to entertain you.

5. Manta Reef – Tofo, Mozambique

Diepte Up to 28 m, averaging 18m
Best dive time Throughout the year, with highlight for mantas and whale sharks between October and March. Humpback whales can often be seen between June and October.
Water temperature 20-28°C
Diving equipment 3 tot 5mm wetsuit



Diving with mantas in Tofo, Mozambique

The dive site Manta Reef is classified as one of the top 10 scuba diving destinations on the planet. Here you can dive between mantas, which have a wingspan of up to 7 feet, really gigantic.

Between the two dive sites ‘Pinnacles’ and ‘Manta Canyon’ is an incline (tabletop) with a few cleaning stations which Mantas Rays frequently visit. It looks like an airport runways! They come so close that you can see inside their gills.

Even if you do not encounter Manta’s, it is still a beautiful dive. With many rock formations, caves, beautiful swim-throughs and pristine corals.
Furthermore, you can also encounter large schools of reef fish, Honeycomb moray eels, white-tip reef sharks, and even bow-mouth guitar sharks.

  • September 8, 2014