South Africa’s coastline is more than 1,860 miles, starting from the border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast to the border touching Mozambique on the shores of the Indian Ocean. It is inevitable one of Africa’s perfect tourist destinations.
Best Dive Destinations in South Africa
Whether you’re a professional or a complete beginner diver, there’s something for all kinds of divers in South Africa. Here are the top 6 hotspots for diving with sharks.
1. Cape Town
Cape Town is the most famous for its stunning scenery and outstanding cuisine. For divers, it is unique due to its location as it’s nestled at the meeting point of the warm Agulhas and cold Benguela currents.
You can watch here the predators like the striped pyjama shark, the inquisitive Cape fur seal, and the sevengill cow shark. You can also find the shipwrecks here.
You may also experience the cage dive with great whites, or sign up for a pelagic trip to look for mako and blue sharks off Cape Point. Bring drysuit if you wish to opt for multiple dives.
2. Port Elizabeth
One of the largest cities in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, Port Elizabeth is also a perfect destination for divers. You can explore a range of dive sites—most of the diving has amazing topography, including pinnacles, sheer walls, gullies, and swim-throughs. All of these features are carpeted by a profusion of soft corals and sponges. Ragged-tooth sharks (known as sand tigers in the United States) are the star attraction from November to April.
The reef’s many nooks and crannies also provide the ideal habitat for a variety of beautifully patterned smaller sharks. There are several wrecks, of which the most popular one is the Haerlem, a navy warship scuttled in 1987. During the winter months, you happen to watch the migrating humpback whales on your way to and from the dive sites; and in April and May, the Sardine Run passes through PE waters.
Located at a two-hour drive southeast of Cape Town, Gansbaai is South Africa’s cage diving capital. During this dive, you can come face-to-face with great white sharks in their natural environment.
You can opt to visit Shark Alley, the narrow channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock where you can see great whites breaching here which is an amazing hunting technique that’s unique to this area.
You might also see other members of the Marine Big Five too, including African penguins, dolphins, Cape fur seals, and Southern right whales.
4. Port St. Johns
Port St. Johns is arguably the most famous place for diving. It is located on the breathtakingly beautiful Wild Coast. During May to July, dive centers from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal come with their boats to start from the mouth of the Umzimvubu River witnessing one of the world’s greatest natural events.
Here millions of sardines migrate the coast from the Cape in large shoals. This attracts whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and seabirds. You can locate a bait ball if you happen to get a front-row seat to the action.
5. Protea Banks
You can also make your way to Shelly Beach, located near Margate on the southern KwaZulu-Natal coast. This place is one of the launch sites for Protea Banks, which is one of South Africa’s most famous shark diving destinations. The reef is located 4.5 miles from shore, which is also a tuna ground, attracting several different shark species. You can watch sharks and oceanic blacktips that are present all year round. You may also watch tiger sharks, great hammerheads, scalloped hammerheads, whale sharks, and ragged-tooth sharks that are seasonal visitors.
In addition to Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks is also one of the few places in the world known to dive with the big three (bull, tiger, and great white sharks) without any cage protection.
6. Aliwal Shoal
Located at an hour drive further north to the coastal towns of Scottburgh and Umkomaas, at Aliwal Shoal you can experience the country’s second world-renowned shark diving destination—Aliwal Shoal.
Many dive centers are offering baited shark and reef dives. Here you can spot larger sharks including bull sharks, great whites, dusky sharks, and thresher sharks. You may also happen to watch majestic tiger shark while baited dives.
There is an abundance of hard and soft corals creating a stunning backdrop for a full cast of marine creatures, from turtles to rays to dolphins and moray eels. In winter you may watch whales and ragged-tooth sharks and in summer you may have a chance of spotting tropical species like manta rays and whale sharks.
These are some of the most fun-filled sceneries and dive places to visit in South Africa.