Diving Holiday in Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa
KwaZulu Natal, South Africa’s domestic tourism leader, offers the visitor an interaction of natural wonders, modern facilities, fascinating cultures and a rich history - in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape with a variety of settings, with Durban being the gateway to this unique holiday destination, pulsating and inviting fusion of East, West and Zulu motifs overlooking Africa's busiest picture-postcard seaport.
Kwa-Zulu Natal is increasingly on the ‘must-see, must-do” lists of discerning travelers from all points. Its expansive golden beaches - including 10 with World Class status - interspersed with idyllic getaway coves are breath taking. KwaZulu-Natal is also a magnet for thrill-seekers in the great outdoors - from wave riders to hang-gliders and golfers to mountain bikers. The Drakensberg and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park are the 2 Heritage sites and the primary game reserves are Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Itala, Mkuze, Ndumo, Phinda and Tembe Elephant Park.
The warm, subtropical waters north of Durban have some of the Southern Hemisphere's most unspoiled reefs. They also have some of the Southern Hemisphere's sharks. There are a number of dive operators leading underwater safaris into this brightly colored submarine paradise; with the danger factor, you obviously want one with extensive experience and an excellent safety record. With an experienced dive master in control, an encounter with a shark will give you no more than a modest frisson of adrenaline while you swim with the vast shoals of fish, ride on the backs of turtles, and, if you're lucky, play with dolphins, which frequent this coastline in great numbers.
Let us also not forget nature’s annual extravaganza unique to the Kwa-Zulu Natal’s North coast – The Sardine Run - the unforgettable cast-of-millions. Year-round frolicking dolphins, plus majestic seasonal whale migrations, and a host of seabirds and other spectacular marine life.
Diving & Snorkeling Kwa-Zulu Natal – South Africa
The KwaZulu-Natal coast has become a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts from around the world with colourful tropical reefs and wrecks and a stunning variety of sea-life to be found. Added attractions are the pleasant all-year-round climate, the warm, clear water and excellent back-up in terms of infrastructure and facilities. The warm Agulhas current that flows down the KwaZulu-Natal coast allows the world's southern-most tropical reefs to flourish, and the water seldom drops below 20 degrees C, summer or winter.
Popular scuba dive hot spots are:
Scuba Dive on Protea Banks:
PROTEA BANKS offers an exceptionally exciting SHARK dive. Situated 7,5km off Shelly Beach, PROTEA BANKS allows ADVANCED divers (this is a deep dive starting at 25 metres) the opportunity to experience a shark dive that is completely unique - sharks are not baited and no cages are used.
During the summer months the Bull Shark (Zambezi) makes PROTEA BANKS its home. Hammerheads are often seen overhead and not just one or two, we are talking hundreds…. yes hundreds. Guitar Sharks, Coppers and Blacktips frequent this reef, with a select few of divers getting the privilege of seeing the elusive Tiger Sharks.
In the winter months the Ragged-Tooth Sharks congregate on PROTEA BANKS to mate.
Aside from sharks, PROTEA BANKS also boasts a vast number of gamefish such as Barracuda, Snappers, Yellowtail, Kingfish and Potato Bass to name but a few
Aliwal Shoal: Aliwal Shoal is a 40-minute drive south of Durban and lies off the small coastal town of Umkomaas. The shoal is a fossilised sand dune, and lies 5 km offshore. It comprises a variety of sponges, some soft and hard corals and a convergence of warm water reef fish and cold water fish the boat trip to Aliwal is normally preceded by an exciting surf launch
Divers flock to Aliwal Shoal from around the world and sightings of the ragged tooth shark can almost be guaranteed
The wreck of the Produce, a Norwegian freighter that struck Aliwal Shoal in 1974, now rests in 30 metres of water and makes an interesting wreck dive.
Scuba Dive in Sodwana Bay :
Situated within the greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Sodwana Bay, meaning ‘little one on its own’ in Zulu, is a world heritage site renowned for its scuba diving, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing. The reefs at Sodwana are named after their distance from the Jesser Point Lighthouse, starting from 2 Mile going up to 9 Mile. Perhaps the most scenic reef is 7 Mile, which on a good day can compare with the best in the world. Over 1 200 species of fish have been identified at Sodwana Bay. And if you go out to 5 mile or beyond, you will usually have an opportunity to snorkel with the bottle-nosed dolphins that love to bow-ride in front of the boats. The humpback and southern right whales can be seen up and down the coast, and the occasional whale shark, spinner dolphin and humpback dolphin.
These reefs, estimated to be over 4000 years old, have plenty of caves, overhangs and pinnacles. They are covered with soft and hard corals, and can be dived all year round, with the best conditions being experienced during the warm summer months from November to May. Most species of shark have been spotted at Sodwana, and recently three coelacanths approximately 1.5m in length were photographed at a depth of 115m. The south flowing Agulhas current hits the continental shelf a few kilometres offshore, and this deep water is home to marlin and sailfish.
There are excellent snorkeling spots at Sodwana Bay, Kingfisher Bay, Adlams, Algae Reef and Mabibi, the latter all accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle along the beach. These reefs are abundant in goldies, lionfish, zebras, wrass, crayfish, feather stars, rays and moray eels.
Scuba Dive in Rocktail Bay:
Rocktail Bay is located in the Greater St Lucie Wetland Park. Situated offshore from Rocktail Bay is the Maputuland Marine Reserve which offers an additional sanctuary with extraordinary diving and snorkeling encounters with huge shoals of fish, dolphins and whales. On land, this lush area has a variety of animals, birds and plant life that provide natural counterpoint to the bushveld areas of southern Africa.
Few sections of the South African coastline are as unspoilt and secluded as the area in the vicinity of Rocktail Bay. Today it is known for its superlative dive spots, as well as the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles that come to lay their eggs on the beaches.
From a scuba diving perspective, Rocktail Bay is unique. Not only is the diving conducted within a Reserve and World Heritage Site along unspoiled reefs, but divers have the luxury of knowing that they alone have access to these sites and are the only underwater visitors along this stretch of coastline.
Marine life is prolific and together with the coral landscape allows Rocktail Bay to offer diving that is amongst the finets in the world. Diving is excellent all year round, with different seasons bringing a variety of wonders to the water. In summer months one of the highlights is diving with the docile, pregnant Ragged-Tooth Sharks when they migrate up north to our area and rest in the caves in the reefs.
For the diver wanting a more exclusive diving experience, with small numbers of divers on the reef and the dive boat, Rocktail Bay is the idea; destination.
Scuba Dive at Umhlanga Rocks:
Umhlanga Rocks is a very popular holiday resort, just 17km (10 miles) north of Durban. Umhlanga is also home to the Natal Sharks Board which regularly prepares interesting audio-visuals, lectures, shark dissections and other demonstrations to the public. Booking is advisable.
Dive sites include:
Rated in top 15 warm water dive sites of South Africa by Divestyle magazine. The Fontao was a Mocambiquan fishing trawler sunk off the coast of Umhlanga by ORI in 1991. It lies in 27 metres of water with the top of the wreck at 17 metres.
Rated in top 15 warm water dive sites of South Africa by Divestyle magazine. A T-shaped barge sunk by ORI in 1990 off Virginia Airport between Durban and Umhlanga. It also lies in 27 metres of water with the top of the wreck at 17 metres.
Dolphin Reef is a reef off Umdloti and has a lot of soft corals, sponges, gorgonians and nudibranchs. It stretches for more than 2 km and there are a lot of different sections to dive including ledges and overhangs. The depth ranges from 16 to 27 metres.
Fame sank in May 2000, offshore from Ballito. It lies in 19m of water and the mast extends up to 6m! This provides for an excellent training sight, lots of time and air and light penetration and a surprising amount of fish life already.
Umhlanga Rocks. The Lightouse Reef is directly offshore,just south of the Umhlanga lighthouse.
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