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World | South Africa | Diving Aliwal Shoal:

Aliwal Shoal overview



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Aliwal Shoal dive site map

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Scuba Diving at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Water temperature:

19°C (66°F) from July to October to 24°C (75°F) in February


3mm or 5mm wetsuit


5 - 40 metres (15 - 130 feet)

Type of diving:

Shark diving, reefs, wrecks

Marine life:

Turtles, manta rays, tiger sharks, hammerheads, brindle bass, whales, dolphins and many reef species

When to go:

June through to November to see ragged tooth sharks, December and January to see tiger sharks and hammerheads

How to get there:

From the UK - Fly to Johannesburg then transfer to Durban. Umkomaas is about a 40 minute drive from Durban airport.

South of Durban the small town of Umkomaas provides the launch site to one of the ocean's most spectacular dives. Unique geological conditions 3-5 kilometres offshore have produced elaborate sandstone structures with pinnacles, gullies and caves. Over time the Aliwal Shoal, approximately 5kms in length, has developed into a fascinating site with an abundance of soft corals, sponges, and hiding places, which have combined to attract over 1200 species of fish, turtles, manta rays and whales. Lurking in the cave systems are world famous aggregations of ragged tooth sharks.

Selected as one of the top ten dives sites of the world by the Diver Magazine, Aliwal Shoal offers almost anything a diver can wish for. During the months of June through to November you are sure to see ragged tooth sharks as they congregate on the Shoal to mate. It is not uncommon to find 15 to 50 of these ferocious looking but docile animals on a single dive.

In summer you have every chance of seeing tiger sharks and hammerheads. Should you tire of the sharks, you can always dive on any of the wrecks or go hunting for the huge (and I mean huge) brindle bass. Other species (depending on the season) include manta, devil and other rays, schools of pelagic fish, whales, dolphins, and many, many more!

Visibility varies from 5 to 40 metres, and the water temperature in summer is 24°C+ and in winter not colder than 19°C. The depths vary between 6 to 18 metres with 40 metre sites for the suitably qualified. The dives are all done without cages and afford the unique opportunity to see the sharks in their natural environment!

Melt du Plooy, PADI Open Water

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