Diving in South Africa includes the renowned Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks dive sites – highly rated for the opportunities they afford intrepid scuba explorers as well as their abundant marine life.
Both sites are located just off South Africa's South Coast in KwaZulu-Natal, and both are suitable for novice and experienced divers, offering lots of gripping underwater adventure for the dive enthusiast.
Aliwal Shoal is a 1.5-kilometre long, 1 kilometre wide and 37 metre deep fossilised sand dune, comprising corals and sea sponges, off the coast of Umkomaas. A hidden hindrance to passing ships, the shoal claimed the British steamer Nebo in 1884 and the Norwegian tanker Produce almost a century later. The 2 wrecks rest 30m down on the ocean's floor, attracting a variety of reef fish and large shoals of salmon and brindle bass.
Undoubtedly the stars of Aliwal Shoal are its ragged tooth sharks. Fondly called 'raggies', the sharks migrate northwards along the coast between July and November, affording divers the most spectacular interactions with these animals. The shoal's Raggies Cave is also a magnet for the sharks and can be safely explored.
Protea Banks, further down the coast just off-shore of Shelly Beach, is equally renowned for its resident sharks, which include Tiger, Bull, Hammerhead and Reef Sharks along with many raggies, and its beautiful rays, including Sting, Marble and Giant Manta Rays, which glide silently around the tropical reef.
Not to be missed is the Sardine Run – an annual sardine migration that sweeps across the KwaZulu-Natal coast, attracting masses of sharks and dolphins. Thrilling dives at Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks with the millions of sardines, and the predators they bring with them, are available between June and July.
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