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Scuba diving South Africa

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Brief overview

South Africa is primarily known for its White Shark cage diving, which is all done in the Western Cape region (around Cape Town). The core of South African diving lies on the eastern coastline in KwaZulu-Natal. The waters are warmer and make for excellent reef diving, some of it tropical to subtropical with summer water temperatures reaching 29°C (84°F).

There are 3 main dive areas along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. Sodwana Bay (ranked amongst the worlds best coral reefs), Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks (rated as a world top 10 shark dive). Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are renowned for their shark sightings and fabulous drift dives. South Africa offers a variety of diving, varying from shark diving, wreck diving and tropical reef diving.

When to go

Scuba diving in South Africa is enjoyed year round as the change in seasons bring an ever-changing array of marine life to the reefs. March/April/May is considered the "best" months weather wise as the seas are "generally" at their flattest. August/September/October can get rather windy making the seas choppy.

In general the country has a summer rainfall (Dec-Feb), with exception for the Western Cape which has a winter (May-August) rainfall. Summers in KwaZulu-Natal can be humid and sticky and water temperature reach as high as 29°C (84°F). Winter water temperatures are a fraction cooler at 18°C (64°F).

For shark enthusiasts, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks provide some of the best shark diving in South Africa (no cages) and excellent opportunities to see various species of sharks along with rays, skates, dolphins and other pelagic marine life. During the winter months Ragged-tooth sharks, better known as "Raggies" amongst the locals, gather on the reefs to mate. During the summer months Bull sharks are frequently seen at Protea Banks, along with Hammerheads, Tiger sharks and large schools of game fish. During the summer pregnant Ragged-tooth sharks arrive at Sodwana Bay and stay for a few months. This is also the time to see Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs along Sodwana's beaches.

If you are thinking about doing Great White cage diving, June to September is considered prime time as the sharks are seen more frequently as opposed to any other time of the year. Most cage operators provide all the necessary equipment, including a nice warm suit for the chilly 10°C (50°F) water!

South Africa scuba facts

Year round visibility: +/- 26ft - 140ft (8m-40m)
Year round water temperature: 75°F (W) - 84°F (S) (23°C - 28°C)
Boat ride distances: 5 - 30min
Shore diving: No
Type of diving: Reef diving
Type of boats used: Ribs (zodiacs)
Marine life: South Africa's marine life is incredibly varied and often seasonal. Summer is a good time to see Bull sharks, Hammerheads, Manta's, whale sharks and Loggerhead turtles. Winter is the time for Ragged-tooth sharks and whales. Other marine life include dolphins, eagle rays, eels, etc
Hyperbaric Chamber: Yes