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Diving in The Western Cape

South Africa’s Western Cape is as thrilling as it comes. Dive into heavy currents with giant sharks in the southwest. Or enjoy a little less danger in the calm and colorful reefs of the south coast.

Diving in The Western Cape

Quick facts

The diving in Western Cape is some of the most exciting in the world. It certainly is one of the top 5 places to cage dive with great white sharks, but the underwater environment also offers much more than tremendous sharks. Western Cape’s diving can generally be divided into three major areas: False Bay, the south coast and the Atlantic seaboard.

Most of the dive sites in Western Cape are clustered around the Cape of Good Hope on the Atlantic coast and in False Bay. Here divers will find four distinct habitats, namely rocky shores, reefs, kelp forests and sandy bottoms. There are also a myriad of wrecks on both sides of the peninsula. You can expect colder waters and heavier currents on the western side which hosts a relatively small shelf before dropping into extremely deep waters. In False Bay to the east, current is minimal and the waters are warmer, attracting many species. Divers may also wish to take a cage diving trip to Seal Island while staying in Western Cape.

Outside of False Bay, the southern coast of Western Cape has a few other protected areas in which divers enjoy exploring colorful reefs. These sites offer a variety of conditions and include locales such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, and Hermanus. Mossel Bay also has great white shark cave diving that is closer to shore and less crowded than that of False Bay. For divers looking for a scuba adventure without the risk of the open ocean, Cape Town boasts the Two Oceans Aquarium. A dive into the Predator Exhibit will allow you to get close to sharks, turtles and pelagic species in a controlled and safe environment.

Scuba diving in the Western Cape province of South Africa is possible year-round. The area generally has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and rainy winters. Expect cooler temperatures during the winter season (June-August). However, the southern coast is much calmer and more accessible during these cooler months. On the other hand, the Atlantic coast becomes inaccessible during the winter months. As a rule of thumb, the season in which you visit will determine where you dive. Water temperatures average between 55 and 63°F (13 and 17°C). If you are looking for a thrill and the possibility of seeing something big, then diving in Western Cape is the right choice for you.

When to go

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Water temperature

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What to see

Because of the diversity of habitats found in Western Cape’s dive sites, there is a huge variety of marine life found here. On the bigger side of things, divers can expect to see a variety of whales and dolphins while cruising around the area, including Southern Right whales, Orcas, Humpback whales and Bryde’s whales. Furthermore, the area is known world-wide for its shark encounters. While great whites are generally not seen while diving, it is possible to cage dive with them throughout the region. You might also spot Cowsharks, Sevengill sharks, catsharks and Gully sharks. Western Cape’s resident African penguins are rarely seen under the water, but the Cape fur seals are curious creatures. They often approach diving parties, unafraid of human contact. In addition, a wide range of reef fish can be seen, particularly in False Bay. These fish include a few different endemic kilpfish, horsefish, pipefish, fingerfins, galjoen, sea catfish, scorpionfish, and several types of rays. Your log book will thank you for all the species you are sure to see in Western Cape.

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Area

Western Cape is one of the most popular provinces in South Africa for tourism. Here visitors will find the metropolitan center of Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope and the Garden Route. Located in the far southwestern corner of South Africa, this province touches the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Indian Ocean to the south and both Northern and Eastern Cape to the north and east, respectively. It’s capital, Cape Town, is the largest city in South Africa and Western Cape represents the southern-most region of the African continent.

Western Cape’s history dates to the Stone Age. This is evident by tools and carvings found in the caves around the province. It has since been populated by a variety of tribes although it did not officially become the Western Cape until 1994 when the Cape Province was split into Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. While South Africa may have a troubled past, the nation has made leaps and bounds with the help of former president, Nelson Mandela. The country’s struggle with apartheid has brought everyone in the nation closer together although tensions can still run high. These tensions occasionally manifest themselves within the political sphere of Western Cape.

Today, about two-thirds of the Western Cape population lives in Cape Town. However, the rest of the countryside is gorgeous. In fact, Western Cape contains one of the world’s seven floral kingdoms almost exclusively. This means that most of the plant species in this floral kingdom are endemic to this part of South Africa. Table Mountain, one feature of Western Cape, contains more plant species than the entire United Kingdom. Between the natural beauty and readily available adventures, Western Cape is a must-visit province on any trip to South Africa.

Other attractions

As one of the most popular provinces for tourism in South Africa, Western Cape offers a wide variety of activities for travelers. Cape Town, with its historical importance and thriving night life, is an excellent entry point to this wild environment. Beautiful beaches can be found in Stellenbosch for those who wish to relax a little. A few other must see destinations include the Cape of Good Hope where visitors can view African penguins, Paarl or Franschhoek where some of the best South African wine is made, and the Garden Route on which visitors with cars will be impressed by fantastic landscapes. There are also a variety of hiking trails throughout the province. You are sure to be spoiled for choice on your holiday in Western Cape.

Getting there

Cape Town International Airport in Western Cape is the second largest airport in South Africa and as such welcomes flights from around the world. It is also possible to reach Western Cape by train, car or bus from other parts of the country. The N1, N2, N12 and N7 highways connect Western Cape with other provinces in South Africa.

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+27

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230 V

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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.