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October 19, 2016

The Dive Sites of South Africa || My Bucket List

generic-diving-neville-wootton-wikimedia-commons
I have lived in South Africa all my life and still have not see an iota of what beauty the country has to offer me. I wish that I could simply caravan across the country, living on the land, bartering, taking photos. Sweet dreams these, but until then, all I have are my to-do lists! After reading Anton Koornhof's detailed 'The Dive Sites of South Africa', underwater sites have also found a way onto my bucket list of life.

Here are the top 11 diving sites I hope to visit when one day I have that skill:

elands-bay-beach-view

1. Elands Bay

While I wouldn't go diving in Elands Bay for the common reason - crayfishing - I would love to see some kelp forests and watch the crayfish in their natural environment. Perhaps I should also learn how to surf and while I'm at it I'll visit the cave to see some ancient art, cut open my feet on Mussel Point, and visit Verloren Vlei.

justins-caves-swimthrough

2. Justin’s Caves and Coral Gardens Oudekraal

The appeal of Justin's Caves is not only its easy access; being a shore dive, it is filled with large boulders that are stacked to create overhangs, tunnels, and cave-like features. Coral Gardens is one of the top 10 dive sites in South Africa. It has stunning biodiversity and interesting topography.

vulcan-rock-reef-life

3. Vulcan Rock

Vulcan Rock is close to Hout Bay and is the exposed pinnacle of a large granite reef. Below the waves, the rock is peppered with holes and caverns, and there is one cave, called 'balloon cave', with a domed ceiling - something I'd particularly like to see. There is also a long tunnel, and the site is close to Di's Cracks, another popular site. There are plenty of sponges and even some nudibranches.

smitswinkel-bay-wreck-rockeater-jean-tresfon

4. Smitswinkel Bay

There are five diveable wrecks that were scuttled by the military in Smitswinkel Bay in order to create an artificial reef. This dive may be too challenging for me (since I'm so unfit :P ) but getting fit may be worth it simply to see the monstrosities rise up from the sea bed, and the wrecks are covered with starfish and nudibranch, as well as some anemones.

5. Partridge Point

Partridge Point's dive site features underwater caverns and swimthroughs and is filled with diverse invertebrates. I may be lucky to see some pipefish and it is practically inevitable that I'll encounter members of the seal colony that lives on Seal Rock close by.

ashore-view-of-a-frame

6. The ‘A’ Frame

The 'A-Frame' is on my list because of the kelp forest and boulders, where there are also overhangs and swimthroughs. Perhaps I'll be lucky enough to see an octopus! Plus, the site is quite pretty out of the water, too!
feather-duster-worm

7. Santos Reef

Santos Reef is on my list because of the 'garden of featherworms' (I know them as tube worms) as well as the possibility of seeing octopus and sea fans. Maybe I'll find a sand dollar.

knysna-seahorse-flickr-flowcomm

8. Tapas Jetty

A graveyard of scrap metal I will mostly ignore, the Tapas Jetty is popular for the opportunity to see the Knysna seahorse. I've only seen them in aquariums and would love to see them in their natural environment - well, as natural as it can get for a shore dive.

cauliflower-coral-reunion

9. Bruce se Bank

I would like to see the most beautiful reef in the country. It is known for the prolific invertebrate life, including cauliflower corals and white starburst corals. Alas, I cannot find a picture of this reef :'(.

10. Jacob’s Poort 

This one is on my list because I would love to see the dolphins, whales, sunfish and rays the area is known for.

11. Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay is arguably one of South Africa's most popular diving sites. Near the St Lucia estuary and Lake Sibhayi, this one's on my list for the whale sharks.

{Image credits:
Lead: By Neville Wootton from Liskeard, UK - 020 - Chasing Manta's, CC BY 2.0, Link
Elands Bay: By Ralph Malan (01 Elands Bay_1) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Justin's Caves: User: (WT-shared) Pbsouthwood at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Vulcan Rock: By User: (WT-shared) Pbsouthwood at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22710887
Smitswinkel Bay: By Jean Tresfon (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtresfon/sets/) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A-Frame: By User: (WT-shared) Pbsouthwood at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22709177
Santos Reef: By Seascapeza (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Tapas Jetty: Flickr/flowcomm [CC BY-SA 2.0
Bruce se Bank: By Philippe Bourjon - Don de l'auteur à Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31179214}