Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoal: The south coast of KwaZulu Natal is blessed with two large offshore reef systems accessible to divers. Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks (5 and 8km offshore respectively) are both kissed by the warm Agulhas current, bringing indigo-blue waters and many pelagic fish. These reefs attract sharks of all shapes and sizes, so if you’re looking for the big stuff outside of the cage, this is where it’s at !
Dive Aliwal Shoal: Aliwal Shoal with its many caves, gullies and pinnacles, provides a seasonal residence for hundreds of ragged-tooth sharks , dive between June and October expect to find yourself in the presence of several, large and fully mature specimens. Outside of “raggie” season, Aliwal Shoal offers consistently great diving with a wide variety of dive sites to suit all levels of training. The shoal attracts a huge variety of fish and stingrays abound. Dolphins, eagle rays and manta rays are not uncommon on Aliwal shoal and for something special, the wreck of The Produce (1974) produces the goods when the current allows.
Dive Protea Banks: Protea banks must rate as amongst the worlds top shark diving destinations, and yet the world has only recently started to take notice. Lying some 8km off the KZN coast the reef starts at 28m and steps down to over 45m in places. There is often strong current on Protea Banks so be prepared for a fast drift dive over the reef before ascending into mid-water for a multilevel dive. Diving with bull (Zambezi) sharks is what Protea Banks is famous for, while different seasons see different species of shark visiting the reef.
Typically the dives on Protea Banks during the Summer months are drift dives over the Southern Pinnacles in search of bull sharks, tiger sharks and schooling hammerheads. The winter months from April/May see the spectacular arrival of hundreds of ragged-tooth sharks to the Northen Pinnacles. The ragged-tooth sharks seek shelter in the many caves, gullies and swim-throughs where you can often find them hiding from the current.
Due to depth and current, divers must hold Advanced certifications with a minimum of 20 logged dives to dive safely on Protea banks.
Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoal do of course have their quiet days and conditions can sometimes be challenging, but this is SA diving at it’s best! Few other dive sites can boast regular sightings of Zambezi (bull) sharks, hammerhead, ragged-tooth, black tip and tiger sharks (among others).
THE SARDINE RUN– see sardine run tours. Every year, seasonal fluctuations in the warm Agulhas current allow a colder, counter-current to upwell and move nutrient rich waters up past the Wild Coast to KwaZulu Natal. With this current come vast numbers of sardines (Sardinops sagax) in a natural migratory spectacle of unrivaled scale. Game fish and other predators such as dolphins, sharks and even whales are attracted by the frenzy and seem oblivious to the presence of divers – their focus being almost entirely on the sardines. Whether you’re diving or simply a surface spectator, the sardine run offers unique photo opportunities and unforgettable memories – Join us in 2016.