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Dive Tours

South Africa offers fantastic diving with great variety. Experience the wonderful tropical reefs of Sodwana Bay; the thrill of diving with tiger sharks, bull shark and the hammerhead in the Aliwal Shoal and the Protea Banks, or feel the adrenaline rush through your body when you are diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai!

South Africa has a long coastline on latitudes that normally don't offer tropical diving. But thanks to streams from Mozambique that bring warm tropical waters you will find the world's southernmost coral reef in South Africa. If you follow the coast south you will notice that the flora and fauna gradually changes as the water gets colder as you travel from the east coast to the west coast.

Along the southern African coast there are numerous historic shipwrecks. The coast around Cape Town is like a graveyard of wrecked ships, where most have met their fate during the stormy winter months. There are both old and new wrecks, the oldest stemming from the 1600's. Many interesting wreck dives can be done as boat dives or shore dives.

South Africa has become a world famous destination in shark diving. Previously, this was only because of the great opportunities to dive with great white sharks, but now the country has also become known for its sand tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks, to name a few. Even copper shark, Blacktip reef shark, dusky shark and spinner shark can be found in South African waters.

Thousands of diving enthusiasts travel to South Africa annually to experience being up close to these amazing animals, but unfortunately some return home without having experienced everything they expected. For the most part, this is because they have travelled at the wrong time of year or simply gone to the wrong place. So please remember that shark diving very much depends on the area and the season! Ask us for the best times to see these beautiful animals at the best times of the year.

Sodwana Bay
Sodwana Bay is located in northern KwaZulu-Natal, about four hours' drive north of Durban on the South African east coast. Sodwana is the only tropical diving spot in South Africa with more than 1 200 species of fish as well as dolphins, sharks, whale sharks and turtles. Here, the corals don't form continuous coral reef, but separate reefs that run parallel to the beach and have been named after its distance from land – such as the 1 mile reef, 2 mile reef, 7 mile reef etc.

The average visibility in the water is 12 metres, but in good conditions visibility can be up to an astonishing 40 meters. During the summer months the water temperature can reach almost 30 degrees and it never gets colder than 20 degrees, so the areas attract diving all year round. Diving in Sodwana is suitable for divers of all levels.

Whale shark, which despite the name is not really a shark, can be found off the coast of Sodwana Bay. The best chance to see these friendly giants is in Mozambique though. As they thrive in warm tropical waters they can be found here all year around. This means that the best time to see whale sharks is simply during the period you enjoy the area best. Since this is the tropics most people enjoy it when it is coolest and there are a minimum number of insects, i.e. during the winter months from April to October.

Aliwal Shoal
The Aliwal Shoal is located off the coast of Umkomaas, just south of Durban. The reefs are at depths of 6 to 27 meters. Apart from tropical fish, turtles, sharks and dolphins, there are also two shipwrecks - Produce at 30 meters and Nebo at 25 meters.

The ragged tooth shark or simply "raggies" are found in large numbers at the Aliwal Shoal, especially between June and November, but there are also a lot of tiger sharks. One uses "chum", a mixture of mashed sardines and fish oil, to attract tiger sharks to the boat. Unlike diving with Great White sharks, there is no cage around you, and you will come face to face with the sharks!

Tiger sharks are present at Aliwal Shoal year round, but are most active between February and June. The tiger shark dives are done just south of the Aliwal Shoal, where the water is about 20 metres deep. To attract sharks, a container with bait is lowered to a depth of 8-10 metres and it is allowed to drift with the stream.

You can also see Blacktip reef shark, Dusky shark and of course the occasional Remora. The Remora (also known as the sucker fish) is a marine fish that is usually found in the warmer parts of most oceans clinging on to large sharks, sea turtles, bony fishes and other marine mammals.

Protea Banks
Protea Banks is the place to be for the truly adventurous diver. The area is outside the coast of Shelly Beach, located about one and a half hours drive south of Durban. Since the currents here are very strong (often 4-5 knots,) it is recommended that only divers with higher diving training (PADI advanced scuba diver, CMAS two star diver or equivalent) dive here.

© Blue Vision Dive Centre

Protea Banks is ranked as one of the world's best shark diving areas with Ragged Tooth shark, Copper shark, Bull shark and Hammerhead shark being present. The reef is at a depth of 8 meters to over 40 meters. The best time to dive with these sharks is when the water is at its warmest, i.e. during the summer months, October to March.

Approximately 160 km southeast of Cape Town, you will find the little town of Gansbaai and here you have the opportunity to come face to face with the majestic great white shark! The tours that Destination South Africa offers starts from Kleinbaai Harbour, just outside Gansbaai. Aboard the boat there are toilets and a small sleeping area should someone become seasick.

After about 20 minutes, possibly longer depending on the weather, you have rounded Dyer Island and approach the Shark Alley, the channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. The latter is home to between 30 000 and 60 000 seals, the main food source of the Great White shark, and there are therefore is an abundance of these sharks in the area.

When the boat has dropped anchor the chumming begins, the same method used as when diving with Tiger sharks. The cage is lowered into the water and as soon as the sharks approach, and the captain and dive master consider it safe for you, you will have the chance to make your first trip down inside the cage. Sharks are attracted with bait to get them as close to the cage as possible for you to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush! You take turns being in the cage, and as there are only a few on the boat, you are guaranteed to spend a lot of time in the water.

© White Shark Projects

If the sea is too rough, the dive master can decide that the cage should not be lowered as you may risk being injured. You will then unfortunately have to be content with following the sharks from the deck, but even this is a fantastic experience! After about four hours at sea all of you would probably have had enough time inside the cage - the boat heads back to the harbour and you have memories for life! The dives can be performed with snorkel and no form of diving certificate is required.

From the time the seal cubs are born in November and up until March, there is so much natural food for the sharks that it is much more difficult to attract them to the boat, which reduces the chances to experience the Great White sharks up close.

The water temperature also plays a major role. Sharks are most often found in warmer water, but the Great White sharks seem to like it best in the colder waters around the Cape. Contrary to popular belief, the waters off Cape Town and Gansbaai is warmer in the winter months than during the summer months. During this period, the sharks are hungrier and the warmer water makes them more active, so the period from April to October is considered the best season for Great White shark dives.

Destination South Africa offers several different dive tours, everything from a few days diving at Aliwal Shoal to pure shark dive tours, and longer tours where you combine diving with safari in KwaZulu-Natal.

Please contact us for more information and for a free quote.
Destination South Africa
+46 (0)31 799 5527/8
+27 (0)83 541 2460
+27 (0)78 751 7209
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