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The Republic of South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa, with a 1700 mile coastline stretching from the South Atlantic Ocean into the Indian Ocean.  It is a biodiversity hotspot with unique biomes, home to incredible animal and plant life.  The climate goes from temperate to subtropical and desert in the far northwest.

Ranked 6th in the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, ecotourism has grown dramatically over the past few years.  Vineyards, diverse culture and amazing landscapes make South Africa well worth a visit.  Safari trips can be paired with diving to see the incredible wildlife both above and below the water, including leopard, cheetah, rhino, wildebeest, hippopotamus, giraffe, lion, hyena, and honey badgers.

Fact File

Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein

61 million

English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sepedi, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, Southern Ndebele
International Dialling Code


South African Rand (ZR)
Tourist Board
International Airports

OR Tambo, Lancer, Cape Town, King Shaka, Nelspruit, Pilansberg and Polokwane

About The Diving

From tropical reefs in the northeast to temperate rocky reef, strong current and surf to the west, South Africa has it all.  The rich waters hold lots of adventure and some stunning sights.  Water temps vary from 14-27°C.  Marine megafauna can be seen year round.

Dive Highlights

Cape Town

The confluence of the warm Agulhas current with the cold Benguela current creates a rich underwater ecosystem for an incredible array of underwater life.  The kelp forests of False Bay are home to the cape fur seal, pyjama sharks and the prehistoric seven gill shark.  More shark action can be had cage diving with great whites or taking a pelagic trip to see blue and mako sharks.  The Cape of Storms has many shipwrecks well worth a visit for wreck lovers.


The best spot in the country for cage diving with great whites, trips to Shark Alley between the cape fur seal colony on Dyer island and Geyser rock gives an excellent chance to see these apex predators as well as occasional Bronze whaler sharks.  This area is also a prime spot for seeing African penguins, dolphins and southern right whales.

Port Elizabeth

The varied topography of walls, pinnacles and gullies creates an underwater playground for divers.  Sand tiger sharks visit November to April, humpbacks migrate past during the winter months, and the Sardine Run is annual event in April and May, bringing a mass of predators to feast.  There are several good wreck dives, the best known being the Haerlem, a navy frigate scuttled in 1987, which now sits at 21m and is home some beautiful marine life.

Port St. Johns

The premier launch point for trips to the Sardine Run between May and June.  One of the world’s greatest wildlife events occurs when billions of sardines migrate up the east coast from the cape in huge shoals, attracting sharks, seals, dolphins, whales and seabirds in incredible numbers. 

Protea Banks

The reef is 4.5miles offshore and one of the best shark diving locations in the country, along with Aliwal Shoal.  This rich tuna ground attracts bull sharks, oceanic blacktips, tiger sharks, great whites, great hammerhead sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and sand tiger sharks.  The Sardine Run provides an incredible spectacle June through July.  This is suitable for experienced divers only as mid-water dives in current at depth can be challenging, though incredibly rewarding.

Aliwal Shoal

Located 31miles south of Durban, Aliwal Shoal is considered one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Shark diving is excellent here, with baited dives attracting bull sharks, thresher sharks, great whites, oceanic blacktips, dusky sharks and tiger sharks.  The Marine Protected Area reef has abundant hard and soft coral, with moray eels, rays, turtles and dolphins calling the reef home.  The wrecks of the Produce, a Norwegian cargo carrier that sank in 1974 and the Nebo, a British steamer that sank in 1884, are full of life.  In summer manta rays and whale sharks can be seen, while in winter sand tiger sharks and humpback whales visit the shoals.

Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay in on the Mozambique border and its warm waters are protected within the Simangaliso Wetland Park.  The tropical reef has shallow sites and excellent visibility, suitable for all divers.  The coral is healthy and vibrant and supports a wealth of life including manta rays, whale sharks, turtle, dolphins and seasonal humpback whales and sand tiger sharks.  The beaches here are turtle nesting grounds and night time turtle hatching tours can be booked in season.

When To Go

Depending on the area you are visiting, conditions and water temps can vary.  Sodwana Bay has great conditions year round, whereas the Cape has calmer weather in the summer months.  The best time for sharks is November to June.  The Sardine Run is May to July, starting earlier in the south and later as the shoals move north.

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