Local Travel

Seal diving in South Africa

Many of us have dived in the Cape with the pristine beauty of nature above and below the water level. We have seen seals on the water surface basking with their flippers in the sun and up close and personal at the Two Oceans Aquarium, but what do we really know about them and how to behave if they visit us on a dive?

By Amilda Boshoff

The Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus), is also known as the Brown fur seal or South African fur seal. The Cape fur seal is the most common species in southern African waters and is found from Namibia on the west coast to East London on the east coast. They breed on offshore islands and in large mainland colonies along the west coast. Seals have streamlined, elongated bodies, with limbs modified as flippers with which they can swoop past kelp and turn on a penny to avoid collision with an object or a fellow seal.

Shelly Beach, Protea Banks - not for the faint hearted

By Amilda Boshoff
Photos By Johan Boshoff & Afican Dive Adventures

ImageAmilda Boshoff visited Shelly Beach and its surrounds to bring to you the jewels of our rich south coast along with great, thrilling dive experiences.

The south coast of KwaZulu-Natal is a land of golden beaches, forests, rolling hills and almost all year round sunshine, making it one of the prime holiday destinations in southern Africa. Situated approximately 160km from Durban is a town called Shelly Beach which is perhaps better known for its well appointed shopping centre, the National Sea Rescue Institute base and for being the home of a very successful, well patronised ski boat club rather than for being a beach resort. Because of its close proximity to the Protea Banks and the ski boat launch from the small craft harbour, Shelly Beach has become a thriving dive centre. This site is renowned as one of the finest shark dive sites in the world with many shark species, including Ragged-tooth, Zambezi, Hammerheads, Tigers, Black Tips and the occasional Great White to name a few.

The Roundhouse

ImageGansbaai (De Kelders) is rightly famous for Great white sharks, but did you know that it is also a hotspot for land-based whale watching? There are consistently more whales in this area than in Hermanus and some days you can count 40-plus whales in one sighting. This special place doesn’t draw the crowds and it is not uncommon to find yourself sitting alone on the edge of a rock perched above a family of whales only 5m away.

Tsitsikamma

By Fiona Mcintosh

ImageAt The Woods Guesthouse  If you’re “doing the Garden Route”, you simply have to stop in and explore the wild and breathtaking Tsitsikamma National Park. Stormsriver Adventures no longer have a dive centre at the Storms River mouth, but the snorkel and scuba trail are still there. If you have yourflown gear (or rent fins, a mask and snorkel from the shop) you can brave the slippery slipway and have some underwater fun.

Umkomaas, Aliwal Shoal

By Amilda Boshoff

The river of whales

ImageIn a small town on the south coast of Kwazulu Natal you can find one of the best dive spots in the world, known as the Aliwal Shoal. The Aliwal shoal is a 1,5 km wide reef and 5 kms off shore from Umkomaas and on the inner edge of the Mozambiquan current and in addition the warm waters often provide for excellent visibility. The shoal is approximately 5kms in length, and runs in a north to south direction. It was named after the Aliwal, a ship that sailed from London in September 1849 and was nearly wrecked here. The captain, James Anderson, then wrote a letter to the Natal Mercury newspaper to warn other sea users of the locality of this dangerously shallow and unchartered reef.

Western Cape, Blue Tangerine, Noordhoek

By Fiona McIntosh

ImageOne of the problems with diving in the Cape is that you’re never quite sure whether you’ll be diving on the Atlantic or False Bay coast, and it pays to be canny when choosing where you will be staying.

Noordhoek is a safe bet as you’re equidistant from the launch sites of Hout Bay and Miller’s Point (and, of course, close to the popular shore dive sites between cliffton and Llandudno and around Glencairn and Miller’s Point).

Western Cape, Gansbaai

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

Gansbaai - Where white sharks rule!

Gansbaai is known for its great white shark sightings, especially near Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. We paid a special visit to bring you this article as part of our dedicated shark edition.

ImageOur excursion to Geyser and Dyer islands began at the picturesque Kleinbaai harbour’s Great White House. After the two and a half hour drive from Cape Town that morning, we met the charters there for a light breakfast and to warm our hands at the fireplace. Having come from Gauteng, it was quite strange seeing the winter sun rising behind the majestic mountains only at 8:10 am.

We finished our breakfast and headed down to the slipway at Kleinbaai harbour. It was a great day with clear blue skies, the sun shining lazily above the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Boarding the boat, I felt a chill of exhilaration – I have dived with sharks before, but not with the ‘undisputed lords of the deep’ as they are known here. We were dressed warmly as it gets cold on the water and the wind can start blowing at any time. Fortunately, only a light breeze ruffled the leaves on the trees that day.

Wondergat

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

We dive Wondergat because we can

Approximately 60km from Lichtenburg and 30km from Mafikeng in the North West Province at an altitude of approximately 1440m above sea level, one will find an unbelievable natural dolomite sinkhole called Wondergat. Wondergat is the deepest natural hole in the interior of South Africa, and is used for advanced scuba diving as well as a training ground for instructors and technical divers. It is a very popular dive site in South Africa and there is a saying that you haven’t dived until you dived at Wondergat…

Thousands of years ago, Wondergat was a waterfilled cavern until the roof caved in and left a magnificent hole filled with water. In the early 70 ‘s the deepest point at this dive site was more than 70 meters and today it’s only 58 meters.