South Africa

scuba diving south africa


Scuba diving in South Africa

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Check here for the latest travel advisory to South Africa in the light of the current coronavirus outbreak.


South Africa is one of the world's most popular scuba diving destinations. You can explore the tropical waters of the east coast, the magnificent shipwrecks and kelp forests of the west coast, or even inland caves and quarries.  




Situated at the southern tip of Africa, South Africa is 1,233,404km² in size and is edged on three sides by nearly 3,000km of coastline, with the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife, and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism. South Africa has sites spread along its coast that are better known for sharks and other large marine life, but also have a wide range of endemic smaller fish and invertebrates.

Watch this awesome video to give you a great feel for what it would be like to dive in South Africa!

To experience shark cage diving were it was originally invented, check out our guide to South Australia diving.

Or for a great white only destination, visit our guide to Guadalupe Island diving.


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Diving Information 

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Marine Life & Environment

South Africa is blessed with a rich marine environment. The marine life includes large mammals such as whales and dolphins, as well as smaller macro-life like colorful nudibranchs, sea-horses and Christmas-tree worms. There might also rare sightings of dugong, schools of hammerheads or dragon moray eel. Featured creatures include sharks, sardines in season, Indo-Pacific tropical reef fish and temperate critters.  

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: Range from 27°C/80°F at Sodwana to 14°C/57°F at False Bay
  • Visibility: Vary but generally beyond 20 m (66 feet)
  • Weather: There are several climate zones that range from desert to subtropical.


Top Dive Sites

Here are some of the most popular dive sites around South Africa!

  • 1. Aliwal Shoal - Recognised as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal is famed for its shark sightings, including ragged-tooth sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads. Located about 50km south of Durban near the town of Umkomaas on KwaZulu Natal’s southern coastline, this ancient sandstone reef within a Marine Protected Area has dive sites to suit all levels. In addition to the thrill of diving with sharks within their natural environment, there are also a couple of fascinating wreck dives to explore.
  • 2. The ‘Sardine Run’ at Protea Banks - If you are visiting South Africa in June or July then diving during the annual ‘Sardine Run’ is a must. The sardines migrate east along the coastline from the cold waters around Cape Town to the warmer waters of KwaZulu Natal, accompanied by an incredible spectacle of large marine life coming to feast on this moving buffet. One of the best places to witness this is at Protea Banks circa 160km south of Durban. Situated 7.5km straight out to sea off Shelly Beach, Protea Banks is a fossilized sand dune from which a dive as shallow as five meters will immerse you in all the ‘Sardine Run’ action.
  • 3. Port Elizabeth - If you can handle the cold (or own a dry suit), then the reefs around Port Elizabeth won’t disappoint. In addition to Avalanche Reef, which is rich in colorful marine life and home to a vast array of corals, there is also a fantastic wreck dive at Haerlem Wreck. In 1987, this navy frigate sunk to 21 meters and is now home to beautiful soft corals, fish and sharks that hide in the countless nooks.
  • 4. Sodwana Bay - 100km from the southern border of Mozambique lies Sodwana Bay, affectionately known as ‘Sordies’. This heavily protected marine and coastal reserve is a nature lover’s paradise, both above and below the water. In addition to the impressive Zambezi and tiger sharks, expect to see tiger angelfish, butterfly fish and longnose hawkfish amidst a vibrant coral reef. Whether you’re a beginner looking to venture out into the open seas for the first time or an expert looking for a technical diving challenge, Sodwana Bay has dive sites to suit. In the summer months, the water is an enticing 25°C and you might be lucky enough to even see turtles laying their eggs on the park’s beaches.
  • 5. Mossel Bay, Garden Route - South Africa’s Garden Route is undoubtedly one of the country’s favorite getaway destinations with beautiful scenery and coastal towns to explore. But the aquatic landscape is just as fascinating, most notably at Mossel Bay. From colorful drop-offs, swathed in corals and home to impressive fish, to great white shark cage-diving, the dives here will appeal to all adventure levels. A night dive is also highly recommended with plenty of weird and wonderful creatures emerging once the sun goes down.

 Check out our guide to diving Kenya for another unique African dive destination.

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

There are three major international airports in South Africa: Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg); Cape Town International Airport; and King Shaka International Airport (Durban). There are also many regional airports, including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mbombela (Nelspruit).  


How to Dive South Africa

There are plenty of dive resorts and dive centers available in South Africa that can meet all of your diving needs.  


Best Time to Dive

The best weather is in April-May and September-October as the temperatures are pleasant. Worst Weather is in June-August. It is cold in the morning and at night during this period.


Topside & Non-Diving Activities

  • Game viewing and safaris
  • City lifestyle
  • Shopping
  • Fantastic beaches
  • Township tours
  • Adventure
  • Casinos
  • Cultural travel
  • Sporting activities


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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: South African Rand
  • Language: There are 11 official languages, namely: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
  • Time Zone: UTC+2
  • Electricity: 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ

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