Scuba Diving South Africa

Scuba Diving South Africa: The Complete Guide

South Africa is a country of true diversity where an abundance of wildlife and varying terrains meet powder-like sand beaches surrounded by two oceans. There really is a multitude of adventures to be had here for all kinds of travelers.

From stunning wildlife safari’s framed by the Kalahari to exploring iconic landscapes and landmarks, a trip to South Africa is a never-ending adventure packed with thrilling activities and experiences.

What’s more, South Africa is home to some great diving! Scuba diving South Africa offers a rich and diverse experience with a wide range of different dive sites. Boasting over 1700 miles of coastline, you’re assured that no two dives will be the same.

Scuba Diving South Africa

What’s Good About South Africa Diving?

Best known for its iconic landscapes and, excellent wildlife safari, and rich history, scuba diving can be an overlooked activity when it comes to South Africa. Here are some of our favorite things about diving there.

Diverse Diving Sites

Spanning the entire south side of the African continent, the coastline of South Africa stretches over a whopping 1700 miles. This makes for an incredibly diverse range of sites to dive with a plethora of offerings.

From tropical reefs in the northeast to the temperate rocky reefs in the west, there’s much to please everyone.

Conditions to Suit Everyone

Whether you’re a first-time diver or a seasoned pro, the vast area of water found at the South African coast makes for a wide range of different conditions. This includes vastly varying water temperatures and a host of different currents and challenges.

You’ll find water temperatures ranging between 57°F to 80°F and conditions to suit beginners or more experienced divers depending on where you go and the time of year.

Brilliant Marine Biodiversity

The varying water conditions and terrains mean that you’ll find a breathtakingly diverse range of marine life depending on where you decide to dive. From tiny sardines to massive sharks, there’s something for every lover of underwater life.

South Africa Scuba Certification

Scuba Certification

In general, you aren’t required to be certified in order to scuba dive in South Africa. In fact, there are many tour operators that cater to those of all levels of ability, no problem for a first-time diver. There are plenty of beginner-friendly and easily accessible dive sites to get your flippers wet for the first time.

However, it’s always recommended to get scuba certified to give yourself the best, most enjoyable diving experience possible. While you’ll have a great time scuba diving South Africa as a first-time diver, there’s a lot you can miss out on without the extra confidence and diving experience, such as the more challenging cave dives and wrecks.

In addition, becoming scuba certified will help you feel more comfortable and confident underwater. This leads to maximum enjoyment and safety from your diving experience and something worth considering.

South Africa Scuba Diving Requirements

Scuba Diving Safety

While there are specific regulations for commercial scuba diving, these exclude recreational diving in South Africa.

As always, tour operators state that you must be in good physical condition and have some swimming ability. Children must be at least 10 years old to scuba dive with a tour operator.

With that said, it’s always highly recommended to have a dive buddy when you’re out diving in South Africa, as it is anywhere else. This is particularly the case if you’re out diving without a tour operator or guide. In this situation, it’s also good practice to make use of diver down flags.

Best Dive Sites in South Africa

Despite being better known for its safari adventures, iconic landscapes, and incredible history, South Africa has some of the best diving in the world. Here are some of our favorite dive sites in South Africa.

Sodwana Bay

Vibrant Coral

Known as the diving capital of South Africa, Sodwana Bay is highly regarded as one of the top 5 dive sites in the world. This tropical divers paradise is home to over 83% of the world’s marine fish and a plethora of different sites including wrecks and reefs.

This subtropical paradise has been considered a Marine Sanctuary for over 20 years. What’s more, it’s listed as a World Heritage Site. With multiple reefs to explore and a multitude of underwater life to discover at depths of 12m to 35m, Sodwana Bay will have you coming back for more!

If this sounds ideal to you, be sure to check out our recommended experience below!

Shark Cage Diving

Shark Diving

If you’re a fan of getting up close and personal with the biggest creatures that can be found beneath the surface, you’ll love South Africa. The marine diversity of the country’s waters bring with it some of the largest sea creatures you can ask for, including sharks!

This makes South Africa one of the best places in the world to go shark diving, with better chances of actually spotting sharks and not leaving disappointed! For the real thrill-seekers, this is one not to be missed!

Check out our recommended experience below for your adrenaline-pumping fix.

The Southern Pinnacles

South Africa Reef

This site is another located in the famous Kwa-Zulu Natal region. This site, however, has gained notoriety for its concentration of bull sharks and various other large marine life. This one is definitely for the adrenaline-junkies!

As well as the notorious bull shark, divers will have the opportunity to spot hammerheads, oceanic blacktips, and for the lucky few, possibly even tiger sharks. Giant sandsharks can also be found here in breathtaking concentrations of upto 50 at any one time!

Check out our recommended experience below for more details.

Best Time to go Diving in South Africa

The sheer size of South Africa and its coastline gives it a massively varied topography. What this means is, you’ll be able to find somewhere to dive no matter what time of year you visit. You just have to be careful of the destination you choose.

In addition, South Africa has multiple different climate zones varying between subtropical and desert. Cape Town has a Mediterranean feel with hot, dry summers and wet winters. You’ll find water temperatures of up to 73°F between the months of December-March. In the winter months, you’ll see temps dropping as low as 65°F between July and September.

How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost in South Africa?

If you’re looking at booking an experience through a tour company in South Africa, you’ll find prices between $100-$1000 depending on the experience and duration. To add, the price includes gear rental so there are no extra fees.

In addition, a PADI Open Water Certification will set you back around $450, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Scuba Diving Gear in South Africa

Scuba Gear

Renting equipment is no issue in South Africa as there are plenty of dive shops across the country.

That said, you’re left with one less thing to think about when going with a guided tour operator as all equipment and gear are included.

However, buying your own gear might be ideal for you if you’re a more keen and experienced diver!

Be sure to check out our buyer’s guides if you’re looking for scuba gear. There you’ll find all of our top recommendations for a range of scuba gear. This includes masks, dive computers, and complete gear packages!

More Goodies
Scuba Diving Aruba
Scuba Diving Aruba: A Comprehensive Guide