Top Dive Sites in South Africa

We’ve hit all the best places to dive in South Africa. We’ve sourced the best locations, the best operators and we’re arranged the best diving itineraries. Leaving no stone unturned, we make sure that our divers leave the dive site with a wide smile…even when the sharks and other fish don’t follow the plan we’ve laid out.

South Africa is unique in that it has several different climates. This can make your planning a little complicated as you will have to decide on the right time of the year to go diving by carefully looking at the diving location. Diving in the Cape during the winter months means freezing waters while diving further up the coast can often mean diving in warm to hot waters.

This is important because water temperatures have an effect on the type of marine life you will be seeing.

The 4 Diving Regions

To make it easier, dive sites in South Africa are split into 4 regions: The Northern Cape, the North-West of South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape.

The Northern Cape is considered South Africa’s last great wilderness because it is sparsely populated and the landscape is mostly desert. But the coast is a diver’s paradise! This region has gained a reputation for having one of the deepest cave dives in the world.

When referring to the North-West of South Africa, we couldn’t be further away from South Africa’s oceans. But the interior has a few places that divers can enjoy. Massive dams, sinkholes and abandoned mines all make for interesting diving opportunities.

The Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is where most of the diving in South Africa takes place. This region is the most popular among divers and it offers shark diving, sardine run diving, wreck diving and reef diving.

Finally, the other popular South African diving destination lies in the Western Cape. In the cold waters, shark cage diving is hugely popular.

Breaking down the best places to Dive in South Africa

7 Mile Reef – Sodwana Bay

Undeniably one of the most beautiful places to go diving, Sodwana is a fabulous destination for many reasons. But it is the 7 Mile Reef, which has been voted as one of the best places in the world for divers, that makes it a must. Here you will see Blacktip Reef Sharks, moray eels, colourful schools of fish and all sorts of other marine life, living on the reef.

The Cathedral – Aliwal Shoal

Another popular site off of the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast, The Cathedral is a natural amphitheatre. The rocks themselves are an unforgettable sight and while diving here you can see ragged tooth sharks, moray eels and cuttlefish. Diving in the company of a dive master, you will need to have some experience before you take a dip here!

Groot Bank – Plettenberg Bay

If you are keen on cave diving, and you don’t mind the bit of a long boat ride, Groot Bank might be just what you are looking for. The massive reef boasts drop-offs, swim-throughs and caves, and while diving here, the chances are good that you will spot ragged-tooth sharks and all kinds of other species of fish.

Smitswinkel Bay – False Bay

Dotted all down the South African coastline are ships wrecked by the intense storms that are known to batter the Cape. Smitswinkel Bay is home to about 5 wrecks making it one of the most popular wreck diving destinations in South Africa. The wrecks have become home to artificial reefs and it is possible to explore all 5 wrecks during one dive.

The Sardine Run

Not mentioning the Sardine Run as one of the best dives in South Africa would be a crime of sorts. Each year, between May and July, billions of sardines migrate up the coast and attract a wide variety of predators. Referred to the “Greatest Shoal on Earth”, diving during the Sardine Run will provide a most memorable experience.

Ready to go diving in South Africa?

Dive the Big 5 has some of the best packages in the country, and we also offer wildlife safaris.


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