Aliwal Shoal Dive Sites

Aliwal Shoal Scuba Diving Sites

Aliwal Shoal is a scuba divers paradise. Situated 1 hour South of Durban King Shaka International Airport, this short journey brings you to one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The reef is 7kms from Umkomaas river mouth and is accessed by semi rigid inflatable boats which launch from the river mouth or the beach. Local skippers will guide you through the often difficult surf to this divers paradise in the Indian Ocean.

Launch from the Umkomaas river mouth or a beach launch if the river is running low. The Aliwal Shoal is approximately 7kms approx from the Umkomaas river. The dive ribs launch through the Indian Ocean surf which can be a bit hair raising at times, but all part of the fun.

On the journey to Aliwal Shoal you will often see Dolphins, Whales, Turtles. When you reach Aliwal Shoal you will also find numerous reef fish, corals, sharks, including Ragged tooth sharks, Zambezi (Bull), Tiger sharks, Hammerhead sharks.

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Areas of interest on and around Aliwal Shoal include
  • The Produce The wreck of the Norwegian tanker "The Produce" lies at the bottom of the Indian Ocean after striking "The Pinnacles" in 1974. Like the Nebo no lives were lost in this accident. Resting in 30 metres of water the wreck is home to Brindle Bass, King fish. Salmon (Kob), etc. As well a range of tropical reef fish.

  • The Nebo struck the Aliwal Shoal in 1884 in fairly calm weather and went down with it's cargo of railway material with no lives lost. The Nebo lies in about 30 metres of water and is still fairly intact. The wreck attracts lots of reef and pelagic (game) fish.

  • Raggies cave is where the "Raggies" (Ragged Tooth Shark) all meet up to spend their winter holidays. (South African winter June, July). Although fierce looking they can be approached with caution. Average depth 12m maximum depth 19m. Good chance of finding sharks teeth here!!!

  • Cathedral This is a spectacular part of the reef and is where rays, moray eels and ragged tooth sharks congregate, depths range from 10m to 28m.

  • Shark Alley Ragged-tooth Sharks (Sand Tiger or Nurse Sharks) congregate in large numbers on Aliwal Shoal between July and November. This Shoal is an enormous sandstone reef approximately 5 km offshore. Dive charter boats, averaging 8 metres long launch through the surf from Umkomaas North beach, 30 km south of Durban International Airport. Favourite dive sites to see the "Raggies" are "Raggies Cave" (17 metres) and "Cathedral" (27 metres). Water temperatures during the viewing season range from 18-22°C, but water visibility is far more variable, ranging from zero to 30 m, with an average of 10-12 m. Aliwal Shoal can be dived all year and there are two shipwrecks nearby. The "Nebo" and the "Produce". 

  • Manta point Situated of the eastern side of the Pinnacles and one of my favourite places on the shoal is Manta Point" As the name suggests this is a popular spot for the magnificent Manta Ray, and is haven to thousands of colourful reef fish. This dive has a maximum depth of around 20 meters and is on route to Raggies Cave should you elect to follow the spine of the "Pinnacles" southwards to the Raggies Cave area.

  • Pinnacles:This section is a long backbone of mountain-like rock formations that provide a haven for thousands of species of fish and is an amazing place to dive when you want to do a long, slow dive. The depth here averages between 5 meters and 18 meters, depending where you are on the ridges. There are some incredible deep potholes with caves that hide at the base of them. This provides a home for many rays and turtles. On the one side the Pinnacles slope down toward the Raggies Cave and Manta Point area and on the shore-side they gently slope down to the North Sands area. The sea-facing ledges are a lot steeper than the ones which tapes gently off to the North Sands basin. The Pinnacles where the reason that the Produce Wreck is now available for divers to explore just off the north point of the Aliwal Shoal. There are a few metal shards still lying on the reef believed to have come from the Produce

 

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