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Scuba Diving on the Aliwal Shoal, South Coast, Kwazulu-Natal

Diving with sharks on the Aliwal Shoal, KZN south-coastThe premier dive sites of Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast are regularly showered with international praise and accolades from dive magazines around the world. In fact, Aliwal Shoal has been rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world by Diver Magazine.

The Shoal itself is 3-5km offshore and is 5km in length. There are two shipwrecks here, the Produce and the Nebo. Diving the shoal you will see magnificent rays (including manta rays), turtles, shoals of pelagic fish, and rare sightings such as the tiger angelfish. But most divers come to see the stars of the show, the famous ragged-tooth sharks which congregate on the Shoal to mate between the months of June and November. For divers who dream about getting close to sharks, this is certainly the spot for them.

There are three main dive-sites here, and dive operators launch from the town of Umkomaas.

Cathedral site

A massive arch which dominates an amphitheatre-like hole in the southern section of the reef. Home to large sting rays, moray eels and ragged-tooth sharks. Advanced divers can swim through the arch and check out the sponges, corals and starfish. Look closely for frogfish, paperfish and pineapple fish.

Raggies Cave and Shark Alley

Diving on the Aliwal Shoal

image courtesy of AquaPlanet Dive Center

A top spot to view large groups of ragged-tooth sharks. Divers may not enter the cave when sharks are in residence here. Watch in awe as the sharks move in and out of the cave, and rub themselves in the sand. Also look out for eels lurking in the reef, turtles, scorpion fish and stonefish.

Protea Banks

Rated as one of the most exciting shark dives in the world. 7.5km out in the open ocean, this is for experienced divers only. As many as 200 sharks have been seen on one dive here. You will see large shoals of hammerhead sharks overhead and the cave at the bottom is full of raggies. Enjoy the sharks, but try to appreciate the reef as well.

Dive operators in southern Kwazulu-Natal:

AquaPlanet Dive Centre

Umkomaas Lodge Dive Charter

Aliwal Dive Center

OceanWorx Dive Charters

Blue Vision Dive Center

Getting there: Umkomaas is 40 mins south of Durban on the N2.

More info on the town of Umkomaas More info on the eThekwini area

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