Reef diving in Sodwana Bay, South Africa
Stunning Sodwana Bay, situated within South Africa’s Greater St Lucia Wetland Park,
is world-renowned for exquisite diving and the turtles who nest here. Reef diving in Sodwana Bay
provides divers from around the world the amazing opportunity to explore the World Heritage Site’s unmarred coral
reefs, home to a grand diversity of sea life. Experiencing Sodwana Bay’s scuba diving will leave you
with no doubts as to why it is considered South Africa’s diving mecca. Along with the exquisite reef diving in
the St Lucia Wetland Park, visitors can enjoy exploring the coastal forests, bird watching and surfing as well
as trips to Mabibi and/or lake Sibaya.
Sodwana Bay is ideal for both shark diving and reef diving all year round. The best conditions are from April through
September. Visibility in Sodwana’s waters can vary between 10 and 40 meters, averaging around 15m. Water temperatures are
mild measuring between 24 and 28ºC and requiring 3mm or 5mm wetsuits. There is much to explore on Sodwana Bay’s reefs which
are mostly located at around 18m, sometimes less. Amongst the hard corals, caves, pinnacles and blow holes, divers will come
across an abundance of sea creatures and life forms. Over 1200 fish species grace the waters of Sodwana bay as well as sharks,
bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles (leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green), humpback and southern right whales and whale
sharks. Shark species you are likely to meet in the bay’s crystal waters are the bull/Zambezi shark, thresher shark, copper
shark, ragged-tooth shark, dusky shark, tiger shark, black tip shark and hammerhead. Other interesting fish life you can observe
are reef fish, pelagic fish, moray eels, manta rays, spotted eagle rays and ribbon tail skates. Sodwana Bay’s sea conditions are
perfect for night dives when the coral polyps emerge and invertebrates can be seen scuttling across the reefs.
There are several popular dive sites in Sodwana Bay, each offering a unique experience for divers of all categories:
2 Mile Reef
This is a very popular site measuring almost 2km in length by 900m in width. There is much to catch everyones interest here with
many corals, caves and overhangs. Diving on this reef you will meet up with tropical fish, snappers, potato bass, marbled rays and
many more fascinating fish and invertebrate species.
5 Mile Reef
5 Mile is a deeper reef and best dived by advanced divers. Here divers can investigate branching, plate and table corals amongst
which reside a diversity of reef fish. You will reach up to 21m at this site, even 24m at some points. ‘The Pothole’ on the reef
provides divers with an opportunity to spot the rare starry moray and red anemone.
7 Mile Reef
Another popular Sodwana Bay dive amongst the more advanced divers. The crest of the reef sits at 15m and leads to a quick drop-off
which will take divers down to 24m. This rather sheltered area is the ideal home for a wide selection of sea life. This is a site not
to be missed.
9 Mile Reef
This is Sodwana Bays most northerly reef and features an impressive Green Coral Tree. The site is rarely dived and thus remains somewhat
untouched. Depths on this reef are from 6m down to 23m.
Quarter Mile Reef
Divers flock to this reef diving site in Sodwana during the months of January and February as this is when the ragged-tooth sharks
Stringer Reef is a relatively small reef, but is known to have the largest diversity of sea species.
Sodwana Bay is about a four hour drive from the city of Durban, so it is best to book into one of the lodges for a few days. It
is best to travel to Sodwana by means of a four-wheel drive vehicle. Some of the lodges do offer a pick-up service. There is a
petrol station located within the National Park as well as a shop where you can purchase various goods.
Very little can be compared to the splendor of reef diving in Sodwana Bay – nesting place of rare turtles, home
to abundant sea life and place of extreme beauty.