Local Travel

The top 5 dive sites in South Africa

Maputoland or Maputaland?

By Amilda Boshoff
Photos by Rian Bester, Christo van Jaarsveld, Willie van Heerden, Margate Air

Our beautiful country has rolling hills, desolate land and high mountains, but the most beautiful of all has to be the long coastline. In this article we highlight the top five sites in South Africa to add to your logbook.

Mabibi and surroundings

Mabibi is located in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal between Sodwana Bay and Kosi Bay (the southern Mozambican border), where it forms part of the Maputoland Coastal Forest Reserve. The climate on the north coast is mostly tropical and the area falls in a relatively high rainfall area. Summer days are usually hot with temperatures pushing the mercury to 30°C plus. The high humidity keeps the area green all year round with beautiful birds, insects, reptiles and plant life ever-present. The winter months from May to August are mild and dry – it is cool in the evenings and early morning but the rest of the day could just as well be summer. This is not ‘big game’ country, but the diversity is certainly here – the variety extends from Vervet monkeys and the nocturnal Thicktailed bushbabies through to the shy forest antelopes, the Red duiker and the Suni.

The top 5 reefs in South Africa

By Amilda Boshoff
Photos by Matthew D. Potenski

Have you ever wondered why some dive sites are more popular than others?
This article explores the most popular reefs in South Africa, bringing you in-depth and interesting information on each.

Seven Mile Reef

ImageSeven Mile Reef at Sodwana Bay, part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, is popular amongst divers for its wealth of hard and soft corals, sponges, anemones, prolific fish life and breathtaking topography. It is a spectacular dive in crystal clear water with great visibility.

The reef, which is located 11km from the launch site, a 25 minutes boat ride, has been rated as one of the 10 most beautiful dive sites in the world and is often compared to the Red Sea dives. The maximum depth is 24m with an average depth of 18m and the kidney-shaped reef is approximately 1,4km long and 0,39km wide. Visibility is rarely less than 15m, and the water temperature in summer is usually plus 24°C and no colder than 19°C in winter. The coral growth and topography is amazing, not to mention the unbelievable amount of marine life encountered in this area.

Aliwal Dive Centre

By Johan Boshoff

In the heart of Umkomaas, only a three minute walk from the beach, shops, restaurants and banks, is a facility that offers everything a diver could want.

ImageAliwal Dive Centre was established over 12 years ago, and the current owners, Lesley and Nigel Pickering who took over in March 2004, had the idea to create a dive charter company that would offer everything to the diving community. Today they are proud to say that they have achieved their goal.

The luxury dive lodge offers accommodation from backpacker style en-suite rooms to double/twin rooms, the majority of which are air-conditioned, have a sea facing balcony, fridge, fan, safe and tea/coffee making facilities. For convenience, the rooms are situated above the Dive Shop and Training School and every morning after the first dive a full cooked breakfast is served on the sun deck next to the 4m deep solar heated swimming pool.

ImageThe dive charter is fully equipped with air and nitrox fills and the kitting up area has hot showers with a storage room for all your kit. The 8m boats are also fully equipped with all the necessary safety equipment and are driven by skippers who have many years experience launching to Aliwal Shoal. Each boat launches with a maximum of ten divers along with one divemaster who endeavours to show the divers all the beauty that the Shoal has to offer. Diving with someone who has extensive local knowledge and experience always makes you feel at ease. Aliwal Dive Centre is also a PADI 5 Instructor development centre that can train divers from basic Open Water to Instructor.

For more information, visit www.aliwalshoal.co.za . For bookings, contact Aliwal Dive Centre on 039-973-2233 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Baited Dives on Protea Banks

The story of the famous Baited Dive on Protea Banks

The story of the first Baited Dive done by African Dive Adventures started a good 6-7 years ago when Lloyd Williams phoned Roland Mauz and told him that he needed footage of Zambezi sharks (Lloyd being an underwater videographer). They discussed how to get the best footage in the shortest amount of time and the conclusion was that they would have to use bait which Lloyd was going to provide while Roland would arrange safety divers and equipment. They really had no idea what to expect as it seemed absolutely outrageous to take bait to Protea Banks where sharks are usually so plentiful – what if it started a feeding frenzy?

By Amilda Boshoff and Roland Mauz

Grootfontein, Marico Oog

By Amilda Boshoff
Photo's by Johan Boshoff
Map by Izelle Hickey

Diving a natural fairyland

ImageIN THE ZEERUST/LICHTENBURG AREA THERE IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NATURAL POOLS CALLED MARICO OOG. THIS NATURAL SPRING FEEDS THE LIMPOPO RIVER AND PRODUCES 200 000 LITRES OF WATER PER HOUR.

What makes this pool so exquisite is the fact that the water is crystal clear and the visibility is often in excess of 20 meters. The natural surroundings give the impression that you are swimming in a fairytale pond in wonderland. Lush plant life covers most of the pool. The pool is covered by floating water lilies with stems that trail away lazily to the bottom. The bottom of the pool is covered with a broad-leaved plant that gives the impression of swimming over a lush green carpet.

Kelp forests and Seven gill sharks

Kelp forests and Seven gill sharks

Hidden and little talked about is a cove next to Miller’s Point off the west side of the False Bay in the Western Cape. The little dive nook lies between Pyramid Rock (34” 14,24’S; 18”28,72’E) and the shore. What makes this dive interesting is the diversity of life created by the interaction of kelp forests, rocks, sandy bottoms and the sea. By Richard Lomax.

KwaZulu-Natal, Hotel Izulu

By Fiona McIntosh

ImageIf you’re diving on Durban North or fancy a stopover on the way to Sordies, pull offthe highway at Ballito and head for Hotel Izulu.

The five-star Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel is only half an hour from the centre of Durbs and is an oasis in the hubbub of the ugly development that has scarred this section of the coast. It is a small, intimate hotel set in lush, semi-tropical gardens only a short distance from the beach. Eighteen suites are offered in the five Bali-style villas - each spacious and fresh, with large bathrooms that offer enormous baths, powerful showers and, of course, bathrobes and slippers. Each suite also offers all the modern conveniences to enjoy during your stay. Free wi-ficonnectivity is an added bonus that separates this hotel from many others. There is also an outdoor Jacuzzi linked to each villa.

KwaZulu-Natal, Rocktail Beach Camp Lodge

By Fiona McIntosh

When it comes to convenience, Rocktail Beach Camp takes some beating. The camp is right next to the Rocktail Dive Centre so it’s a quick kit selection if you don’t have your own gear, then while you listen to the briefing, your gear is rigged and taken down with the boat to the beach. By the time the second vehicle ferries you to the beach, the boat is idling in the shallows and all you have to do is walk out and hop aboard!

ImageRocktail Dive Centre needs little introduction to most Divestyle readers. It’s truly a great centre with a professional, passionate dive team, top quality gear and excellent guiding. And since there’s a gentleman’s agreement with the only other dive operation with a concession to dive in the area (Thonga Beach Lodge), you’re guaranteed exclusivity on the reef. Boutique diving at its best.

Operation Zembe

Underwater searches for the oldest traces of mankind

When in 1995 and 1996 ancient stone tools were found on the bottom of Table Bay, nobody could foresee then that these discoveries would result in an international research project. By Dr. Bruno Werz, Southern African Institute of Maritime Archaeology (SAIMA) & Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, University of Pretoria

Pretoria, Wetsgat

By Pieter Smith
Photo's by Michael Meller

ImageThe hidden secrets OF WETSGAT
East of Pretoria lies a dolomite cave which only a handful of technical divers have experienced.

Driving past the area on the R50 to Delmas, one cannot imagine that such a cave exists below the surface of these grasslands. Wetsgat is on 40 hectares undeveloped private property and is not open to the public. It is a technical diving venue with no access to daylight, and requires deep diving and advanced cave diving qualifications and experience if you want to dive it safely.