Some of the worlds most unspoilt diving sites can be found along the gorgeous South African coastline. Teeming with colorful wildlife & rich in cultural offerings, there are countless beach vacations & scuba adventures awaiting the adventurous traveler.
One of the top dive sites of the world, housing over 83% of the world’s marine fish species as well as shipwrecks & coral reefs, KwaZulu-Natal is a must see dive spot! With a subtropical climate, diving is available in KwaZulu-Natal & its differing areas year-round.
KwaZulu-Natal is made up of the Isimangaliso Wetland, Durban & the South Coast. Stretching from the southernmost point of Mozambique into South Africa, the area offers countless varied diving holiday opportunities.
You may find yourself overwhelmed with choices & offerings as you begin to plan your trip. We’ve narrowed down a few of our favorites to point you in the right direction. Durban is one of the least dived areas of KwaZulu-Natal & while you can still find several dive shops in & around the city (typically focusing more on famous shipwreck dives), we’ll focus on the teeming wildlife & crystal-clear waters of The Elephant Coast, Isimangaliso, and The South Coast:
The Elephant Coast
You can always start an African adventure with researching UNESCO World Heritage Sites (of which there are many in Africa) for a truly authentic and natural getaway. While there are game reserves, mountain trails & countless ways to interact with nature on the Elephant Coast, its natural reefs are unparalleled!
First to earn the designation in Africa in 1999, the Isimangaliso Wetland is one of 21 ecosystems in the 21 km stretch of the Elephant Coast. Isimangaliso is a protected marine reserve home to over 12,00 species, branching table, plat corals and breathtaking drop offs, overhangs and swim-throughs. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers some of the most pristine diving conditions in the world.
Where to Stay
The Northern reach of the Elephant Coast, an area called Mabibi is home to some of the most popular dive spots (try Sodwana Bay & Rocktail Bay, thought to be some of the worlds best) as well as the prestigious Thonga Beach Lodge; a great choice when it comes to SCUBA/Diving accommodations.
Nestled away in a gorgeous coastal forest at Thonga Beach Lodge you can find yourself relaxing after a thrilling dive day in the private thatched bush suites, constructed specifically to ensure minimal impact on the precious natural environment around them.
From November through February, guests can take part in turtle tracking as the Giant Leatherback & Loggerhead culminate a long journey as they come ashore on the Elephant Coast to lay their eggs in what is truly one of the most incredible natural spectacles in the world.
The South Coast
To adventure from colorful reefs teeming with schools of tropical fish & take your diving adventure to the next level, Protea Banks offers one of the best Shark diving experiences in the world. Approximately 10 km inland of Shelly Beach (just 90 minutes south of Durban). A fossilized sand dune, the reef is approximately 4 km wide with depths up to 40 meters, Bull, Tiger, Hammerhead, Blacktip, Ragged-Tooth, Bronze Whalers & occasionally Great White Sharks can all be seen diving at Protea Banks. Not for the faint of heart & much different from typical reef dives, Shark Diving typically requires PADI Advanced Diver certification or more than 50 logged dives.
For an all inclusive dive adventure & hotel dedicated to Dives on Protea Banks, you can utilize one of the many vacation packages at resorts like the Blue Ocean Dive Resort, offering dive adventures, on-site training, certifications, restaurants & dive shops all centrally located in great accommodations near the best dive spots in the area.
Eager to see more exciting wildlife (with a few less teeth)? Head to the Aliwal Shoal on the South Coast. Dolphins, manta rays and humpback whales have all been spotted during their winter migrations between July & November.
Directly overlooking the Aliwal Shoal Dive site, the Aliwal Shoal Lodge offers wonderful diver accommodations & a great range of activities in addition to Scuba Diving like surfing, fishing, swimming & mountain biking/hiking.
Whether snorkeling, beginning SCUBA training & certification or looking for the next-level adventure as an experienced diver, the African diving experiences offered at KwaZulu-Natal are once-in-a-lifetime and are sure to be an African adventure you will never forget! Happy diving!
This article originally appeared on Demand Africa.
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