False Bay is busy with divers but the underwater views are worth it (Flickr: TravellingOtter)
List 04 March

South Africa's top 5 diving locations

Famed for its beautiful beaches and electric atmosphere, South Africa is fast becoming one of the world’s best diving locations. Want to join in? Here's how...

A plethora of exotic marine life dwells under the surface of South Africa’s waters, ready and waiting for eager divers to discover. With so many fantastic locations to go diving, we’ve drawn up a list of the best diving spots to help get you started.

1. False Bay

Not suited to the faint-hearted, False Bay is one of the best diving spots to witness a variety of sharks in their natural habitat. Tiger sharks, ragged-tooth sharks and hammerheads have all been known to occupy Shark Alley – and even the famed great white too.

Located 30km south of Cape Town, False Bay boasts the reputation as being one of the only places in the world where you can witness the phenomenal great white breaching.

2. Sodwana Bay

Affectionately referred to as “Sordies”, Sodwana Bay is located in Durban and enjoys warm weather all year round. There are a variety of stunning reefs to explore with various depths, meaning both beginners and experts alike are bound to find the perfect spot to appreciate the wonderful marine life.

Sodwana Bay is one of South Africa’s most popular diving destinations, as it is home to the world's most southerly coral reefs. However, be prepared for crowds and limited parking spaces if you're visiting independently.

3. Clifton Rock

For those of you who prefer a more isolated approach to diving, Clifton Rock is ideal.

Located 100m south-west of Cape Town, Clifton Rock enjoys a mixture of boulders and hidey-holes, making for exciting swim-throughs where divers will be able to greet a variety of sealife including starfish and crayfish.

Clifton Rock is the perfect place for beginners who want to get stuck in, without crowds spoiling the underwater views.

4. Protea Banks

Protea Banks boasts both a relaxed atmosphere and thrilling diving activity. Situated 160km south of Durban, Protea Banks is made up of fossilised sand dunes, where a host of tropical marine life comfortably dwell. In the summer months, sharks make an appearance including the Zambezi shark, hammerheads and the elusive tiger shark.

If you are after an exhilarating dive while enjoying the company of laidback locals, you need look no further than Protea Banks.

5. Paquita Wreck

Although located in the touristy town of Knysna along the Garden Route, this location will entrance divers with its stunning surroundings. In 1903, the German vessel Paquita ran ashore while she was en-route to Barbados. She remains in Knysna to this day, making for a truly unique sight.

Be warned: the wreck is situated on the lip of a large lagoon, which is known as being rather rough. Timing is of the essence if you choose to dive there.

Diving enthusiast Matthew Coe from Wanderforth (Specialists in luxury travel to The Maldives, Mauritius, Dubai, The Seychelles, South Africa and The USA) has selected these South African underwater highlights. Find out more here.

Find more information on diving in South Africa and find scuba diving operators on the South Africa Tourist Board website.