We all have to learn somewhere and when it comes to diving destinations, these have to be the top 5 best places to begin your new addictive hobby.
Those who are day dreaming about diving in South Africa are sometimes not aware of the fact that we offer a different type of diving. So different in fact, that those who wish to partake in it need both experience as well as the right qualifications for most of the top destinations. This is why it is so important that you learn how to dive before you take to the depths. And the best place to get your fins is to head to any one of these 5 fantastic sites.
Ko Tao in Thailand
When it comes to diving in Thailand, Ko Tao is considered to be the best place to do it. Beneath the waves, divers can see whale sharks as well as all sorts of interesting tropical fish. Ko Tao is also one of the best places for those who are only just learning to dive. The destination has a number of shallow sites to explore, including the Japanese Gardens and there are a few operators in the area offering lessons for beginners. Ko Tao is great for diving all year round, but for the best visibility it is best to dive between July and September. November and December tend to be rainy months and visibility is severely hampered.
Red Sea, Egypt
Dahab, with its perfect coral reefs, gorgeous beaches and great places to enjoy diving, is a place where both novices and advanced divers will find a lot to enjoy. The area is also well known for its “blue hole”, a diving attraction that has lured in numerous advanced divers. Dahab is the ideal place to learn to dive because it is not the most popular place. In fact, it is situated some 90km south of Egypt’s main dive destination Sharm el-Sheikh. The site offers year round visibility of up to 30 meters. It’s best to not travel between May and September when summer is simply scorching.
Caye Caulker, Belize
The Belize Barrier Reed Reserve System is second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And its stunning underwater sightings make it the perfect place to go diving. Fees to dive here are pretty low, when compared to neighbouring Caribbean Islands. Divers can look forward to diving here all year round although it is good to keep in mind that the rainy season runs from December to April when the waters can be quite choppy.
Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
This spot is at the convergence of three ocean currents and it is home to sea lions, turtles, hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas, and rays. The Galapagos has strong currents and quite cold waters which does make diving here a bit of a challenge. This is ideal for those who have just learned to dive and want to improve on their skills. Again, diving here is generally good all year round, with January to May being the best times.
North Male Atoll, Maldives
The great thing about this diving location is that it has numerous holiday resorts which offer guests the option of going diving. This allows learners to book their dive with their trip. The ocean is home to an interesting, colourful marine life and healthy coral reefs, some of the healthiest in the world. The best times to dive here are between November and April. During this time the ocean is calm and there are plenty of manta rays to see.
Dive the Big 5 offers superb diving in South Africa and Mozambique and guests can look forward to a real once in a lifetime trip.
Diving is one of those past times that for those who fall in love with it, can never seem to get enough! Any diver knows that it is not just about what you see when you take the plunge into the depths. It’s about the sense of freedom, like the weight of the world has been lifted. Every time is like the first time and many can agree that diving is without a doubt an addictive adventure.
Each diving destination, whether it is in South Africa, Mozambique, Australia or anywhere else in the world, has its own uniquely interesting facts and tremendously exciting things to see. But the act of diving itself is also quite fascinating.
Facts about Diving
- When divers reach a depth of 10 meters and below, it becomes next to impossible to see the colours red or yellow. This means that if you were to somehow cut yourself while at this depth, your blood would look quite blue.
- The word “scuba” is not something made up with no meaning. Instead, it stands for “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”.
- There is such a thing as feeling drunk while diving. It is called oxygen narcosis and it has been known to affect most divers at some stage of their diving. It will generally happen when Nitrogen is breathed in at depths below 25 meters.
- Sound actually travels quickly when submerged. In fact, it can travel 5 times faster than when above waters. This makes it just about impossible to determine exactly where the sound is coming from which is why sound is not something divers can safely rely on.
- Each year, between 8 and 12 people will be killed by sharks. This sounds quite alarming right? Well actually, it is a drop in the ocean, pardon the pun, when you consider that humans are responsible for killing well over 30 million sharks annually.
- When under pressure, oxygen can become toxic. For this reason, if divers are going down to distances of more than 42m, they will use special gases with lower concentrations of oxygen.
- Diving injuries, although quite rare, do happen. When officially recorded, they are called “barotraumatic injuries” but these generally refer to broken noses or fingers. Often, these injuries don’t even happen in the water, instead they happen while getting into or out of boats and tanks or weights connect with a diver.
- The intense colours of the underwater world, as seen in documentaries or underwater photographs are not always a real representation of what is to be expected. This distinct lack of colour is due to the fact that water quite quickly absorbs light and the one colour that disappears the fastest is red. Professional photographers and documentary film makers will often use filters to counteract the effects of the light, giving viewers a distorted idea of what the underwater world looks like.
- Scuba diving is listed as a risky sport but the facts show that only 1 in 211 864 dives will result in a death.
Discover the wonders of some of South Africa and Mozambique’s finest diving destinations when you embark on a one in a lifetime journey with Dive the Big 5. Book your underwater tour of the great Indian Ocean today.
Once it was a rustic camping site with little more than a tiny café selling the bare essentials. Today, Sodwana Bay is a wildly popular diving site, with coral reefs and millions of fish stealing the hearts of all divers who venture here.
Just a few kilometres south of Mozambique, on South Africa’s northern East Coast, Sodwana Bay is a tiny dot on the map. The name is taken from the Zulu word which translates to “little one on its own”, and the bay forms part of the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park which has been declared a World Heritage Site. This protected area covers an immense 150 km, stretching from the border of Mozambique to Cape Vidal. The coral reefs found up to 3 nautical miles out to sea are also protected.
While the bay is a wonderful place to have a holiday, given its remote location as well as the fact that most establishments here remain close to nature, Sodwana is best known for offering unforgettable deep sea diving. Home to what is considered the most beautiful coral reefs at this latitude (the reefs are regarded as the southernmost in the world), Sodwana has the honour of being South Africa’s only tropical dive site. This is the destination of choice if you hope to see indigenous tropical fish.
The bay is a mere 4 hours away from Durban, if you are driving, and is also quite accessible on well-maintained roads if you are driving from Johannesburg. Booking a diving trip would generally include transfers, so booking your dive through a dive company like ours will take out the stress and the hassle of planning.
What you should expect to see
While diving at Sodwana Bay, you can expect to tick a whole lot of interesting sightings off of your list. From an abundance of tropical fish, schools of pelagic fish, moray eels, sponges and both hard and soft coral, divers will be endlessly fascinated by what they come across. At specific times of the years, divers could also encounter dolphins and whale sharks. The reefs, which are the main attraction, are believed to be around 4000 years old and they consist of numerous overhangs, pinnacles and caves.
These waters are some of the warmest you will experience. In the summer months, water temperatures hover at around 24 degrees Celsius while in winter, the temperatures will rarely drop below 19 degrees Celsius. In a nutshell, this is the perfect location regardless of the time of year you wish to go diving!
Visibility is very rarely less than 15 meters, while the diving depths in the area range from between 12 to 50 meters.
Beyond the countless oceanic attractions, the area outside of the water also offers plenty to see and do. The coastline has its own dense forest and it is the perfect escape for nature lovers of all kinds. There are wonderful nature trails, places to go fishing, bird watching spots and shallow water spots perfect for snorkelling.
Summers are often incredibly hot but they are the best time of the year to visit Sodwana Bay. During these months, the loggerhead and leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the Sodwana beaches.
Book your dive with Dive the Big 5 and discover just why Sodwana Bay is such a popular diving spot.
Recently Captured Images of South Africa’s Best Marine Sightings
The internet has opened up a whole new world for divers looking to get a clearer picture of what they will be seeing when they book their diving holiday. With Instagram full of stunning marine life photos, you can truly see what you could spot while beneath the waves.
South Africa’s coastline is well known for its tremendous ocean life and for having some of the best marine animals in the world, ranging from Great White Sharks, to turtles, seahorses and penguins. Landing on our shores in search of a real exploration is something you can look forward to when you plan your dive with Dive the Big 5.
We’ve scanned Instagram, followed the hashtags, so that you don’t have to. Here are some of the most memorable photos from those diving in South Africa.
Protea Banks is without a doubt one of South Africa’s most loved diving locations. The East Coast of our country is home to a myriad of interesting creatures and critters, and the Protea Banks is one location where shark diving is quite popular. Peaceful sharks, not quite the fearsome animals portrayed in film and media, swim close to divers, curiously feeling them out. Dive the Protea Banks for a real adventure, this location is not to be missed.
A diving location unlike any other, Sodwana Bay is possibly best known for its coral reefs and colourful marine life. Those not able or keen on diving can instead opt for snorkelling. This requires minimal equipment and it is less strenuous than diving, not to mention that simple fact that you won’t need a certification for doing it. A quick dip below the surface will open up a whole new world and its one that you won’t ever forget.
Probably best known for its sharks, Simon’s Town is a great place to go diving. Along with seeing sharks, divers also have the opportunity to spot the more unusual fish, like the cute guy in this image from Instagram.
Shark diving in South Africa is one of the more common types of diving, after all, South Africa is the shark capital of the world. Raggies, mako sharks, and of course, the famous Great White Shark, are just a few of the various sharks that can be seen along the coast. Different locations and times of the year present different shark species, so planning your trip according to the time of year you intend to visit is really important.
Interact with nature
If scuba diving is not your thing, or should you not yet have the required experience, you can always try your hand at snorkelling and explore the depths from the surface.
South Africa remains one of the African continents best places to enjoy the thrill of deep sea diving. Travellers from all over the world venture to South Africa each year to see the country’s spectacular wildlife as well as the prolific ocean life swimming deep beneath the waves.
South Africa’s oceans are filled to the brim with extraordinary sea life. While shark diving in South Africa is a big reason why most people come to our shores, while you are exploring the depths, you could also see turtles.
Turtles are the oceans reptiles and have graced the depths for 150 million years. They spend 96% of their lives in the sea and even though they rely on surface air they are accomplished free divers. Female turtles leave the ocean only to lay eggs on the beach, usually the beach from which they were hatched.
These creatures are probably the cutest animals you will encounter while diving and both divers and turtles enjoy swimming together.
There are seven different species of turtle and five of them are found in South African waters. Each turtle species feeds on a different prey, which ensures that they do not need to compete for food or space. Unfortunately turtles are an endangered species and it is mostly the females that are at risk since they have to come ashore to lay eggs. In some countries, turtle meat is still eaten but that is not the only threat to these creatures. Gill nets and pollution along with human ignorance are also impacting the turtle population. There is also a threat to the turtles breeding sites that have a major impact on their survival.
South African Turtles
The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of all the sea turtles. They can weigh up to 900kg and reach a length of 2.5 meters. Their shells are a dark blue/grey colour and mottled, consisting of 7 lateral ridges of pliable shell. They also have very large forearms. Leatherbacks travel on the oceans currents in search of prey. They can dive over 100 meters and stay submerged for up to 35 minutes. They can be found breeding along the Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal coast between November and January, but are generally found all around the South African coastline.
During the breeding season, Leatherback females come ashore on the high tide at night and lay batches of 100 – 200 eggs at a time, over 9-10 days resulting in about 1000 eggs. After about 70 days the young turtles have hatched and head off to the ocean. Of the thousands of hatchlings one in 1000 will reach sexual maturity, which takes 4-5 years. The juveniles feed mostly on jellyfish and grow rapidly.
The Loggerhead Turtle is recognised by its large square head. This turtle has a dark yellow brown shell that has central plates as well as rows of plates on either side on the central ones. The plates do not overlap. These turtles have a slightly hooked bill and claws on each of its limbs.
Loggerhead Turtles keep more inshore making their hunting grounds the reef or rocky estuaries. They have strong jaws that crush their prey which consists of crabs, crayfish, sea urchins and molluscs. Their breeding behaviour is much the same as the Leatherback Turtle.
They get their name from the fat layer that is under their shells; it’s green. Their external colour is a mottled light to dark brown. Green Turtles have a very similar appearance to the Loggerhead Turtle. The most distinctive difference is their shape. The Green Turtle is rounder and flatter with a smoother shell. Another difference is the shape of their bills, the Green Turtle does not have a hooked bill.
Green Turtles are often seen basking on the surface of the ocean since they eat mainly seaweed and sea grass. These turtles lay their eggs on the islands off Mozambique and on other Indian Ocean islands. Sadly, man has hunted this turtle close to extinction.
When you book a diving trip to South Africa, you can be sure that you will be able to spot all kinds of creatures living deep in the ocean. Book your South African dive with Dive the Big 5.
South Africa is one of the most exciting holiday destinations in the world. Any adventurer will agree that our nation is one of the most diverse places in the world and there is plenty to do while visiting.
From shark cage diving off the coast of Gansbaai to diving the Aliwal Shoal and seeing the Sardine Run; to going on safari in the world-famous Kruger National Park or exploring the famous Winelands, there is something for everyone. When you plan your trips properly, making sure that your travel itinerary includes all of the best places to visit, you’ll get a real taste of what our country has to offer.
For the longest time, divers have been treated to the most incredible diving locations but when planning their trips, they often tend to leave out the other must see places, such as any one of the various safari destinations. Dive the Big 5 is the only tour operator in the country who offers combination tour packages which include days spent enjoying the best scuba diving in the Southern Hemisphere and seeing all kinds of wildlife in some of the country’s best national parks.
Diving in South Africa
South Africa has an epic coastline, filled with exciting places to see different types of marine life including the Great White Shark. Deep sea diving is the norm here and divers can also see various bright coral reefs, shipwrecks and more when they explore the depths of Aliwal Shoal or Protea Banks. Some of the country’s best coral reef destinations include Sodwana Bay.
While some of the best diving can be experienced in the warm waters off the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, there is also great diving closer to Cape Town. Here you can explore the kelp forests or go shark cage diving. This is also the perfect place to spot seals and penguins.
If you plan your diving carefully, you could arrive in South Africa during the Sardine Run. This is an annual marine event that takes place along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast. Each year millions of sardines swim up the coast, most evading both ocean and air predators. Guests to South Africa can view the Sardine Run from the coast, from a boat or by diving.
When diving in South Africa planning is key to a successful adventure and it is important to book your tour correctly. Working with a tour operator will eliminate the possibility of leaving something off of your to-do list, such as accommodation or transfers.
Safari trips in South Africa
Not only is South Africa one of the best diving destinations in the world, but it is also Africa’s top safari destination. Home to the Big 5 and all kinds of other animals, safari trips are well worth the adventure and when here, they are not to be missed.
South Africa is the only destination in the world that offers great diving destinations as well as wildlife safaris. You could be exploring the oceans one day, and going on a real African safari the next.