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With 83% of the world’s marine fish families, an alluring mix of shipwrecks, reefs and pelagic species, and one of the top five dive sites in the world, KwaZulu-Natal is a diver’s paradise.

Diving in KwaZulu-Natal

Quick facts

Diving in KwaZulu-Natal is some of the best and most adventurous diving the world over. With a mix of shipwrecks, natural reefs and a plentiful helping of sharks and rays, not to mention an epic sardine run, the province regularly attracts divers looking for a bit of everything in one place. The diving areas can roughly be separated into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Durban and the South Coast.

Sodwana Bay, located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage site that stretches along the Elephant Coast from Lake St. Lucia to Kosi Bay, offers some of the best diving in the world. Here you will find miles of coral reefs, whale sharks and mantas in the right season as well as migrating Humpback Whales. Rocktail Bay and Kosi Bay offer less visited sites with equally pristine coral reefs and water clarity.

Sodwana Bay is accessible by car, only 4 hours from Durban international airport. Once there, you'll only be a short drive away from amazing game reserves.

Durban is the least dived area in the province. However, you will find a few dive shops in the city that cater mostly to wreck divers. There are a number of wrecks within recreational limits due to Durban’s importance in trade for the last 200 years. The ships at the bottom of this sea include Old Wreck, Fontao, T-Barge and Cooper’s Wreck. Many more are found below 130 feet (40 meters) for divers with technical dive training.

The last, but certainly not least, dive area is the south coast. Both the Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks offer an intriguing blend of caves, pinnacles and soft coral-encrusted ridges. Many species of gamefish call the area home along with manta rays, marble rays and sting rays. It’s also possible to cage dive with hammerheads, tiger sharks and ragged tooth sharks from Rocky Bay.

Scuba diving in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa is possible year-round. The area generally has a subtropical climate with hot summers and rainy winters. Expect cooler temperatures during the winter season (June-August). However, winter and fall are generally regarded as the best seasons for diving. Water temperatures average between 70 and 77°F (21 and 25°C). If you are looking for a thrill and the possibility of seeing something big, then diving in KwaZulu-Natal is sure to be the right adventure for you.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Because of the diversity of habitats found in KwaZulu-Natal’s dive sites, there is a huge variety of marine life found here. On the bigger side of things, divers can expect to see whales and dolphins while cruising around the area, including Southern Right whales and Humpback whales. Furthermore, the area is known for its shark encounters. You have a chance of seeing ragged tooth sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, black tip sharks and hammerhead sharks. Gamefish patrol the waters, especially along the southern coast. These include King Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna and Spanish Mackerel. A variety of rays round out the big species to look for. If you want to see the big predators, don’t miss the sardine run in June and July which draws in these hungry creatures. In addition to the big stuff, there are also hundreds of colorful fish among the reefs in the area. Your log book will thank you for all the species you are sure to see in KwaZulu-Natal.

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Area

KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most popular provinces in South Africa for wildlife safaris. Here visitors will find the Royal Natal National Park, the Valley of 1000 Hills and the Drakensberg mountains. Located in the far northeastern corner of South Africa, this province touches the Indian Ocean to the east, Mozambique and Swaziland to the north, and Lesotho and three other provinces to the west. It’s capital is Pietermaritzburg while the largest city of the province is Durban.

KwaZulu-Natal’s history dates to the Bushman hunters. Later, they were ejected by the Bantu who formed the Nguni tribe. This tribe quite liked the region and settled in, forming a collection of many tribes which were later united by Shaka Zulu under the name of the Zulu clan. This clan formed the most impressive military force seen in Africa and were fairly wealthy in terms of land and livestock. Both Afrikaners and the British arrived in the early 1800s. At that time there was little conflict as the Europeans imported Indian workers rather than use the local Zulu tribes. However, in 1879, the British insisted that the Zulu clan give up their military style of government which resulted in the first major war in KwaZulu-Natal. This war was won by the British after the Zulus suffered severe losses. Twenty years later, the Second Boer War broke out between the British and Afrikaner populations. The British won again. Many years later, KwaZulu-Natal became a part of the Union of South Africa which later manifested itself into the country we now know.

Today, KwaZulu-Natal is arguably the poorest of the South African provinces. Apart from a few of the wealthiest people in the country, many have suffered at the hands of the political dispensation. The Indian population still outnumbers the white population and tensions in race relations are visible between the Indian and black population. However, tourism is making its way to the province and now two areas have been named as UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.

Other attractions

KwaZulu-Natal offers visitors a wide range of activities for keeping busy during surface intervals. Holidaymakers might be interested in seeing the second highest waterfall in the world, which is located in Royal Natal National Park. For history lovers, the museums and battlefields in Ladysmith, Spioenkop, and Frere are extremely educational about the Anglo-Boers Wars. Exploring Zulu culture in the Valley of 1000 Hills will also delight those interested in local events, and hiking in the Drakensberg mountains and exploring the many national and wildlife parks are the perfect diversions for nature lovers. Finally, the beaches along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal are some of the best in South Africa. You sure won’t be bored on your trip to this wonderful and wild province.

Getting there

King Shaka International Airport in Durban welcomes South African domestic flights and a few international flights from Dubai, Mauritius and Maputo. It is also possible to reach KwaZulu-Natal and Sodwana Bay by road from Johannesburg and Pretoria or by train from Johannesburg and Cape Town. If you have your own transportation, the N2 and N3 highways connect this province with others in South Africa.

UTC+02:00

Time zone

ZAR

Currency

"+27

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

C, 

D, 

M, 

N

Plug type

DUR

Main airport
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