Dive Spots in Durban: Kwazulu-Natal
I hope everyone in Cape Town is loving the cold, windy and wet weather you’re experiencing at the moment! Here in Durbs the sun is shining and the weather is sweet… makes you want to move you’re dancing feet!
Just one great feature of the Durban winter, it’s still warm and the sun shines pretty much everyday, you’ll still even find people swimming and surfing. Ok, enough of me poking fun at Cape Town, in a previous post Philip mentioned he’d been diving at Sodwana Bay so I thought I’d filled everyone in on the top two diving spots in KZN.
It is widely accepted that Sodwana Bay is the Mecca of diving in South Africa and is about 4 hours drive north of Durban. Renowned for its sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkelling, Sodwana is situated on the coast within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.
You can expect to see an abundance of tropical fish, hard and soft coral, sponges, moray eels, large schools of pelagic fish, potato bass, turtles (hawksbill, loggerhead, green, leatherback) and depending on the time of year, whales (southern right, humpback), whale sharks and dolphins. Visibility is rarely less than 15 meters, and the water temperature in summer is 24+ degrees Celsius and in winter not colder than 19 degrees Celsius. The depths vary between 12 to 18 meters with 30 and 50-meter sites for the suitably qualified. The dives are all done from semi-rigid boats, with exiting launches through the surf!
Another popular dive site in South Africa, the Aliwal Shoal lies just off the coast of Umkomaas, a small coastal town on the warm, subtropical south coast. The reef was named after the sinking of the 3 Masted vessel Aliwal in 1849. Its captain, Captain James Anderson, sent a warning to other seafarers about the “very large and dangerous rock, or shoal, with heavy breakers” to which he could find no reference in any seafaring manuals.
Umkomaas is situated about 50km south from Durban, surrounded by a sea of green sugar cane fields. Stunning (sharknet-protected) beaches, a balmy climate and excellent diving make this a favourite destination for weekenders. It is also the launch site for diving operators going to the Aliwal Shoal.
The Shoal itself, a submerged, sandstone reef, lies 3km off the coast of Umkomaas at the meeting point of the cold Benguela current and the warm Agulhas current, often providing excellent visibility! Wrecks such as the Nebo and the Produce provide an interesting underwater landscape and have become home for many marine creature. These include over 1200 fish species, endangered sea turtles, rays, mantas, dolphins, whales as well as sharks (and no I’m not talking about the rugby team). Most divers visit Aliwal Shoal to dive with the abundance of Ragged Tooth Sharks or “Raggies” between August and November, these sharks look fierce, but are gentle by nature!
Both locations offer dive courses at very reasonable prices, so all that’s left for me to do is to become a qualified PADI diver!
Just a heads up on the Tourism Indaba being held in Durban at the ICC from 12 to 15 May, I’ll definitely be attending so if anyone is in and around Durban during those dates I think it’ll be a great event to be apart of.