Dive Cape Town: Dive Sites & Diving

Dive Cape Town Kelp Forest

Kelp forest dive

Perhaps the most vibrant city in South Africa, Cape Town is a unique and popular scuba diving destination. The coastal waters of the Cape are influenced by both the Agulhas and the Benguela currents, offering the more adventurous diver a wide variety of scuba diving options to explore.

Kelp forests border the Cape shorelines and provide a magical diving experience in themselves. These underwater forests host a huge variety of marine life and collectively form a vast habitat, now know as the Great African Sea Forest, extending almost 1000km north into Namibia. The kelp forest plays a vital role in providing shelter and nursery habitat for many species. Much of Cape Towns kelp forests are MPA’s (marine protected areas) where fishing is either prohibited or restricted.

Reef diving Cape Town

Reef dive Cape Town

The deeper reef surrounding the Cape peninsular is simply spectacular. As you descend between giant boulders and granite slabs the wealth of invertebrate life soon becomes apparent. Every inch of reef is bejeweled with hard and soft, cold water corals in shades of red, blue, pink, orange and purple, providing a wealth of fine detail to explore and photograph.

Cape fur seals can be encountered throughout the region and it’s not unusual to be graced by their inquisitive presence on many of the dive sites around Cape Town. If you specifically want to dive with seals then there are several dive sites where seal interactions are almost guaranteed.

Oceans Africa conduct  guided seal snorkeling and scuba diving trips to Partridge Point in False Bay during the Winter months as an alternative to the sites on the Atlantic seaboard which are best accessed during the Summer.


Wreck Diving Cape Town

Wreck dive Cape Town

A wreck seekers paradise, the Cape of Storms has claimed many names from the past. Early East Indiamen, split their sides and spilled their cargoes some 400 years before the Korean bulk carrier Daeyang Family ran aground in Table Bay in 1986.

The Portuguese passenger liner SS Lusitania stuck Bellows Rock off Cape Point in 1911 and sank in 40m of water. Now affectionately known as The Luci , she is considered by many to be the top wreck dive in the Cape although her location only allows access on the calmest of days.

Many ships have also been scuttled to create artificial reefs. The wrecks of Smitswinkel Bay are a favorite with the locals and along with those on the Atlantic seaboard, offer a wide selection of wreck dives to suit all levels of training.

Dive with sharks Cape Town

Shark diving Cape Town

Shark dive Cape Town:

For shark diving enthusiasts there are of course the cage diving Cape Town options in False Bay as well as in nearby Gansbaai. There is also the chance of encountering sevengill cow sharks, gully sharks and numerous species of smaller cat sharks on the reefs and in the kelp fringes.

Divers prepared to adventure offshore can encounter pelagic shark species during the Summer months. Blue sharks and mako sharks may be found some 10-20Nm off Cape Point in the months from October to May – see baited dives.


Dive Cape Town at Night

Night Diving

Night diving in Cape Town:

For the more adventurous diver exploring these sites at night is highly rewarding. Diving at night reveals many animals and behaviors not seen during there day. Squid and octopus and cuttlefish are more active at night and may be seen hunting and feeding on small fish and krill.

Bio-luminescence is a feature on most night dives and time with torches off is essential to appreciate this phenomenon. Many kinds of salp and jellyfish are also out in bigger numbers and their ethereal forms lit by your dive torches make for amazing photograph and video opportunities.

Scuba Dive Charter Cape Town

Dive charter Cape Town

Cape Town Dive Charters:

At Oceans Africa we believe you deserve the best possible dive experience we can deliver. We like to take our time on our trips to enjoy the bay to it’s fullest. We always try to stay flexible and adapt our charters to our clients interests, the conditions on the day and the sightings. Our charters are kept to low ratios to allow a high degree of personal service. While our scuba diving Cape Town prices are not the cheapest they are still the best value.

As a dive charter operator, Oceans Africa works with numerous dive shops in Cape Town as well as independent dive instructors and divemasters, to offer you a wide range of diving services and dive training. Ask about our instructor led experiences and have your dive package with us count towards your advanced course or specialty certifications.

Dive conditions in Cape Town:

The diving conditions in the Cape can be unpredictable, however there are generally two distinct seasons; Prevailing south-east winds during the summer months cause cold, very clear up-welling on the Atlantic seaboard, while westerly winds during winter, bring clear water into False Bay on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsular. Whatever the weather, ideal conditions in the Two Oceans Aquarium means it’s always possible to find somewhere to dive Cape Town!

To enjoy the best scuba diving Cape town has to offer, contact us at Oceans Africa for the latest updates of conditions and sightings.

Water Surface Temperatures in Cape Town

Sea surface temps Cape Town

Water temperature can vary considerably in the Cape, from as high as 20 degrees to below 10 degrees Celsius. Typically divers in False Bay enjoy warmer temperatures than on the Atlantic Seaboard, with an average water temperature of around 14 degrees, although thermoclines on deeper sites can be severe and occasionally drop several degrees. Adequate exposure protection is therefore essential to enjoy your diving in Cape waters.

Exposure protection: As a minimum to dive Cape Town, we recommend a multi-layer system with 10mm on the chest, 5mm on legs and arms, 5mm hood, boots and gloves. This is the standard rental gear in Cape Town however, many local divers choose to dive in Dry Suits, despite air temperatures in Summer being as high as 30 degrees.

Wall dive Cape Town

Diving deeper in Cape Town.

Visibility underwater: Typically the cold water in Cape Town is cleaner. “If it’s clear you must fear!” is a common joke among local divers, although we are occasionally blessed with 20m visibility and 20 degrees Celsius in False Bay, the average visibility is probably around the 8-10m mark. Plankton blooms and red tides enrich our waters and feed our colourful reef systems, so the visibility is often variable. Some dive sites may trap clean water while others have low viz and for this reason, we always try stay flexible on our dive site options on the day.

Cape Town, with it’s scenic beauty, vibrant cultures and history, is an ideal arrival or departure point for any tour to South Africa. View our dive tour pages for packages that include Cape Town or allow us to create a custom tour for you with transfers and accommodation to suit your individual requirements.