South Africa – to dive or not to dive

I was fortunate enough recently to be able to visit South Africa on an educational tour for the purpose of being able to sell it as a destination.  I was to do 7 dives but in reality only did 2.  Part of that was the time of the year, part was the Great Whites left early (so no cage dive with them) and part was due to a very cold & windy weather front that followed us up the coast.  The weather cost us our other dive in Simonstown with sealions and kelp.  Most of that can’t be controlled but it did make me really question whether I would recommend South Africa as a dive destination.

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For anyone that’s looking for something that is unique to South Africa, then yes!!  They have a sardine run in their winter that is well known for incredible big animal action and they have the Great White Shark cage dives, also better in winter.  We were there in very late winter, nearly spring.  For someone who gets seasick, like me, there can be some rough conditions here that time of year.  That said, I did have a couple of very enjoyable dives (once I was under water).  Above is a Dusky Shark.  That was a variety I had never seen and the shark dive at Aliwal Shoal was a very good shark dive.  There were at least a dozen sharks at any one time.  Besides the Dusky’s you can get Tigers and reef shark.  Probably more varieties at times.  It was very worthwhile to do that dive!!  That is also where the sardine run is.

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Besides the shark diving, we went farther north to Rocktail Bay for some reef diving.  You are nearly to the Mozambique border and the beaches are deserted, unspoiled and beautiful.  All the dives are from zodiacs and all launches at both places we dove were beach launches through the surf. That was an interesting experience itself.  Those guys really know how to read the surf.  The reef was nice but there was surge to make picture taking a challenge.  That was again due to the cold weather front dogging us.

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With perseverance, I was able to get some really nice photos.  On a calmer day, this would be a very nice dive.  There was a lot of structure for the many critters to hide and the dive guides were fantastic at spotting things.  All in all, it depends on what you are looking for.  If you have always wanted to go diving with Great Whites or see the sardine run, this is the place!!  What adds to the excitement of those dives is when you’re done diving, you can go on safari and see elephants, lions, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, etc, etc, etc!!  Could it get any better than that???  I guarantee you will have a memorable trip if you decide to visit South Africa!!