South Africa is one of the world's most popular scuba diving destinations, with locations such as Sodwana Bay and the Aliwal Shoal attracting divers and underwater film crews from far and wide.

If you're a beginner, a quick course will prepare you for an underwater adventure and, given the popularity of scuba diving in South Africa, there are a number of schools at major coastal towns where experienced professionals are on hand to teach you the basics.

The Indian Ocean along South Africa's east coast offers warm, tropical conditions and plenty of sharks, turtles, dolphins, whales and rays, as well as spectacular coral reefs and a variety of colourful reef fish.

The west coast waters of the Atlantic Ocean are a lot colder, but offer magnificent marine life and kelp forests that are a delight to explore. There are numerous tour operators in Cape Town, several of whom are based at the V&A Waterfront.

How to get around

Some scuba diving sites require a 4x4 vehicle to reach.

Who to contact

Scuba-diving tours in Sodwana Bay

KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority

Tel: +27 (0)31 3667500

 

Dive South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)79 366 3749

Email: maryka@divesouthafrica.co.za

What will it cost

Hire scuba equipment and take a dive for around R300. Scuba-diving courses range from around R500 for a 1-day course, to around R3 500 for more in-depth courses.

Accommodation

Most scuba diving sites have nearby accommodation, ranging from hotels to small B&Bs and backpacking lodges.

False Bay is one of Cape Town's most famous diving spots and was the setting for the film Dark Tide, starring Halle Berry as a scuba diving instructor.

Apart from marine life you can also explore shipwrecks off the coast of Table Bay.

If you'd rather go scuba diving inland, sites such as Wondergat in the North West province and Komati Springs in Mpumalanga province offer inland sites to explore.

The Guinness World Record for the deepest scuba dive is held by South African Nuno Gomes, who descended to a depth of 318 metres below the surface of the Red Sea. Gomes also holds the record for the world's deepest cave dive, which he set in 1996 in Boesmansgat in South Africa's Northern Cape Province by diving to 282m.

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