Coast KZN

19 Jul 2017

Diving the Indian Ocean’s Aquariun

Mercury Reporter (The Mercury)

Curious turtle at Cathedral Dive, Aliwal Shoal.

A week into its expedition the Dive Durban team has completed 10 dives, all of which have proved that the KZN south coast has some of the best diving in the world.

While most of the diving community was trying to catch up with the Sardine Run, the Aliwal Shoal reefs were coming to the party offering up-close-and-personal sightings of the gentle ragged-tooth sharks which come here to mate in the winter months.

Organised under the banner of Durban Green Corridors, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, the Dive Durban expedition aims to encourage scuba diving tourism to the city and the province.

The two international divers, Monica da Silva (Switzerland) and Chris Desseigne (Reunion), along with brand new divers Sifiso Mngoma and Thami Mabina, have been blown away by the exciting and diverse diving on the famed Aliwal Shoal.

The adventure started with a scenic drive – which included more sightings of whales – along the coast from Shelly Beach to Rocky Bay Resorts in Park Rynie, where the team spent the night.

The next morning they headed for Scottburgh to experience the reefs on the southern edge of the shoal.

First up was Landers, which on a good day is one of the best dives on the South Coast. This was definitely a good day, with top to bottom visibility and only a slight current. The team spotted turtle, game fish, rays, two paper fish, scorpion fish, sand shark and all the regular colourful coral fish.

After the dive, it was a short walk to the retro Cutty Sark Hotel where the team checked in for a night to refresh and recuperate before their dive on Howard’s Castle the next day


After a bumpy launch under an overcast sky and with reports of bad visibility, they dropped on to Howard’s Castle expecting the worst, but instead, got the best.

Warm water (23ºC), raggies, black tips, turtles, rays, a giant potato bass, yellowfin tuna, remoras, pineapple fish, nudibranchs and schools of coral and reef fish. 

As they clambered on to the boat and the dive master remarked that all they hadn’t seen was a whale, one breached right next to the boat. 

It was an amazing start for the team’s newest divers, Sifiso and Thami, who proved that their SSI (Scuba Schools International) training paid off. Team leader Debbie Reynolds described it as “one of her top five dives ever in South Africa”.

Still euphoric from the dive, the team enjoyed lunch – a traditional shisa nyama with all the trimmings – at Mnini Dam near Umgababa. They were welcomed by owners Mlu and Sphiwe Shezi and local city councillor Bheki Thabethe.

Next stop was Umkomaas, where the team settled in for three days of spectacular diving. Raggies, raggies and more raggies, a round ribbontail ray, honeycomb eels, an oscillated sand eel, schools of bat fish, scorpion, lion and trigger fish and about eight different types of nudibranchs.

The highlight, besides the grand topography of the dive site known as Cathedral, was an inquisitive turtle which joined the group and literally posed for pictures.

Offering a variety of dive sites, dive operators, accommodation and restaurants, Umkomaas has rightfully earned the reputation of being scuba divers’ paradise.

NEXT STOP: Durban.

To follow the Dive Durban adventure go to:
Face Book: FB/Divedurban 


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