sardine run

Sardine Run Expedition – a massive feeding frenzy

If you’ve never heard of the Sardine Run, you’re in for a treat...

Whether you’re thinking about visiting South Africa, as a tourist, or if you’ve lived here all your life, doing a Sardine Run Expedition should be the first thing on your “must see” list.

An incredible sight to witness off the shores of KwaZulu-Natal, and definitely, something to write home about; the sardine run is one of the biggest feeding frenzies in nature! It brings millions of fish near the coast which, in turn, attracts hordes of hungry predators.

Dive the Big 5 has taken many tourists and locals alike, to see this phenomenon for themselves. This migration of thousands and thousands of tiny sardines is visible from space, so you can imagine how many predators comes together to feed on the massive shoals of sardines.

Many different species of sharks, dolphins, seals and even whales take turns to dart through the swirling fish who are frantically trying to avoid being eaten, while trying to reach their spawning destination. You can spot the frenzy miles away if you’re on a boat, you simply can’t miss the thousands of gannets diving into the waters, causing a commotion.

Being as smart as they are, the dolphins work together to separate small “bait balls” of sardine from the massive shoal, making it easier to target them. They feast like this for days on end...

You can experience a Sardine Run too:

Dive the Big 5 has so many options available for clients who would like to witness this incredible sight…

If you want to stay dry, you can choose to view the spectacle from the boat, but most people prefer to get up close and personal and witness the wonders of the Sardine Run through the eyes of an underwater spectator!

Have a look at the options we have available on our website and choose one that suits your schedule best. Either way, if you don’t witness this marvel at least once in your life, you’re missing out.

We take our clients out to sea from the “expected” start to the “expected” end of the Sardine Run which is from 21 May to 21 July each year, so be sure to plan your holiday during this time if you’re hoping to see the feeding frenzy for yourself.

Be aware that the water on the western side of Africa’s shores are much cooler than that on the eastern side. You can expect to experience temperatures of 22 degrees and even less sometimes, but it’s warmer than most places in the world. Unfortunately, the sardines like the cooler waters, that’s why the Sardine Run happens this time of year – when it’s winter in South Africa, and the water temperatures drop to below 19°C… This is a must! If the water temperature does not drop below 19° C, the sardines stay far out to sea, and deep, where the water is cold.

Good news is, we provide wet suits equipping you for the cold waters, if you chose to brave the water. And rest assured, it’s perfectly safe. The predators are all way too immersed in their instincts to feed on this yearly feast that they pay no attention to divers.

Our guides are trained and armed with the necessary gear for safety precautions. It is advisable that you have relative scuba diving experience if you want to swim with these masses of fish.

You’re welcome to select one or two days out of your holiday to join us on a hunt for the sardine run, but we’ve got enough experience with this event to know what kind of itinerary would give you the most and best opportunities to view all the many different species of fish, mammals and birds that fest on the sardine shoals.

Have a look at our most popular sardine run itinerary below:


ITINERARY for 5 day / 6 nights expedition at ZAR 24 450 pps


  • 6 Nights en suite accommodation
  • Dinner / Breakfast and packed Lunch
  • 5 Days Sardine Run, weather permitting
  • Cylinder, weights and Marine Permit
  • Experienced skippers and dive master


  • International and domestic airfares and Taxes
  • Airport transfers (can be added)
  • Bar, items of a personal nature, gratuities.
  • Insurances

Day 1
Arrive at Airport of choice – transferred to Bulls Inn accommodation.

Day 2 to 6
After a light breakfast we spend the day at sea looking for the sardine run “action”, weather permitting. We will be at sea from around 8am till 3pm. Packed lunches and hot/cold drinks will be served. When the sardines are spotted, depending on whether they are fast moving or not, we will decide to either snorkel or scuba dive. A full dinner will be served in the evenings with the menu changing daily.

Day 7
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport of your choice…


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