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Scuba Diving in Sodwana Bay, Elephant Coast, Kwazulu-Natal

Whale Shark seen at Sodwana Bay

image courtesy of Sodwana Bay Lodge

Sodwana Bay is the mecca of South African dive sites. It is part of the isiMangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are extensive tropical reefs here, as the warm waters brought down by the Mozambique Current favour their development. The reefs at Sodwana are some of the most southerly coral reefs in the world. They are littered with hundreds of species of hard and soft corals and over 1200 species of fish.

Sodwana’s corals are unique in the world for a number of reasons. According to the Oceanographic Research Institute, their mix of 60% hard and 40% soft corals occurs nowhere else in the world. Also, they are deeper than most reefs in the world.

Quarter mile reef

This reef is sometimes known as Raggie Reef (for the prevalence of ragged-tooth) sharks, and is Sodwana’s closest and shallowest reef. Large numbers of pregnant ragged-tooth sharks congregate here in the summer months. The sharks can get intimidatingly close though, so this is not for divers who get freaked out by sharks.


Scuba diving at Sodwana Bay

image courtesy of Triton Diving

This is a particularly exciting site between Quarter Mile and Two Mile reefs. It’s a macro-photographers dream and is alive with frogfish, ghost pipefish, paperfish, zebra gobies, golden blennies and clowfish. There are also resident moray eels here, and the reef is also a juvenile fish nursery, so divers can enjoy seeing plentiful colourful tropical fish. Turtles and manta rays are also seen occasionally.

Nine Mile Reef

This is Sodwana’s furthest reef, and is only dive in flat-sea conditions. The reef is in superb condition, with wonderful sponges, soft and hard corals and big coral trees. These trees provide shelter to a host of tropical fish. The reef is renowned for its diversity of marine life. Look out for leatherback, loggerhead and green turtles. A torch is necessary here if you want to go exploring deep in the reef, where you can spot large schools of passing game fish and ragged-tooth sharks.

Dive operators in Sodwana Bay:

Coral Divers

Triton Diving


Sea Escapes

Sodwana Bay Lodge

Getting there: from Durban, take the N2 going north along the coast. Turn off onto the R22 going through the isiMangaliso Wetland Park. Then, turn onto A1108 road going into Sodwana Bay.

More info on the town of Sodwana Bay More info on the Elephant Coast area

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