Scuba diving in KZN. Image via Pixabay

Discover the best scuba diving spots in KwaZulu-Natal

Warm, Indian Ocean currents, vibrant corals, and myriad marine life make the waters off KwaZulu-Natal one of the top scuba diving spots in the world.


Scuba diving in KZN. Image via Pixabay

Home to the world-renowned Aliwal Shoal and Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal packs a punch when it comes to adventurous and challenging dives with some spectacular wildlife.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and national treasure of iSimangaliso Wetland Park is another fantastic spot for scuba diving. Stretching along the magnificent Elephant Coast from St Lucia to Kosi Bay, this marine park is a must-see if you are an ocean-lover and scuba diving fanatic.

KwaZulu-Natal’s underwater treasures

Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay is rated as one of the ten best diving locations in the world and when you dip beneath the surface here, you’ll understand why.

Situated 350km north of Durban, Sodwana Bay lies at the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and is home to the most southerly coral reef in the world. The protected marine sanctuary boasts warm (up to 28˚C) and gin-clear waters with visibility of up to 50m on a good day.

The reef is home to a wealth of more than 95 species of brightly coloured hard and soft corals, over 1,200 species of fish, and other interesting marine animals like moray eels, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks.

Popular dive sites in Sodwana Bay include 2 Mile, 5 Mile, 7 Mile, and 9 Mile Reefs, and night diving is a must if you want to see the reef come alive with nocturnal hunters. Southern right and humpback whales can be heard as they migrate up and down the coast around July and August.

Other fantastic dive sites in iSimangaliso Wetland Park include Rocktail Bay, which features unspoiled reefs teeming with fish and docile, pregnant ragged-tooth sharks in season.

Kosi Bay is another amazing scuba diving location in the far north of iSimangaliso close to the Mozambique border that boasts beautiful and almost uncharted reefs. Diving is possible all year round here and this is one of the best places to swim with whale sharks between November and March.  

Where to Stay in Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay has a host of accommodation options that cater to scuba divers and scuba excursions. Some places like Sodwana Bay Lodge have an onsite PADI five-star IDC centre, which offers training for new divers and certification upgrades for experienced divers. Coral Divers offers comfortable accommodation and multi-day dive packages.

Aliwal Shoal

Aliwal Shoal is another highly-acclaimed scuba diving spot off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal and is world-renowned for its diversity of marine life. Named by Jacques Cousteau as one of his personal top ten diving sites of the world, this is the place to dive if you want to see sharks.

Aliwal Shoal lies three to five kilometres offshore and is named after the fossilized dune that rests beneath the surface and attracts a diverse variety of marine life. The dive site has superb visibility due to the warm Mozambique currents that flow past and offer some sensational reef, wreck, and seasonal shark diving.

Nine species of shark call the 1.2km-long shoal home, as well as seven species of rays, eels, turtles, dolphins, and migrating whales.  

Where to stay at the Aliwal Shoal

The launching site for dive charters heading out to Aliwal shoal is from the coastal town of Umkomaas, and you’ll find several accommodation options and dive schools around town.

ScubaAddicts Lodge & Dive Centre has an onsite dive centre and beautiful views of Aliwal Shoal, and Sea Fever Dive Lodge has self-catering units and offers scuba diving for all levels of experience.