The waters around the tip of the African continent might be chillier than in the Caribbean, say, but these seas hold marine encounters which you won’t find anywhere else. South Africa is one of the most exciting dive destinations in the world, home to unique experiences that will cap off your personalised trip to Africa with memories you’ll never forget.
There are 1700 miles of coastline to be explored here, covering both the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and wildlife ranging from hefty sharks to schools of tiny, glistening sardines. The variety is what is special about diving in South Africa: you’ll find both tropical reefs in the east and temperate rocky reefs in the west.
If you want to dive in and make the most of an underwater adventure in this fantastic country, here are three experiences you can put on your to-do list.
Not far east of Cape Town, just off the coast from the unassuming, small settlement of Gansbaai, is a spot that is arguably the best in the world for getting up close and personal with great white sharks in the wild. You’ll take an exhilarating boat trip out from the little harbour to the cage, which waits for you amongst the waves. The first time you see a fin slicing through the sea will take your breath away, and it’s even more remarkable when you see those massive jaws coming towards you from outside the cage under the surface. Curious by nature, the sharks often come at you in great numbers. It really gets the adrenaline going, but don’t worry – you’ll be perfectly safe in the cage!
The Sardine Run
This world-famous event is not to be missed. Occurring every year between May and July, this wonder of nature begins when billions of sardines spawn off Agulhas Bank and head over to the eastern seaboard. Such are the sheer numbers of fish moving in convoy that they create a body of up to four miles in length. Add in the dolphins, sharks and other species who follow them looking for a piece of the action, and this becomes one of the world’s greatest dive experiences.
All manner of marine life can be spotted on a dive in False Bay, found just south of Cape Town in some of the warmest waters you can experience in South Africa. Amongst the kelp forests, the sandy depths and the rocky walls, look out for Cape fur seals, feather stars, nudibranchs, leopard cat sharks, puffadder shysharks and more.