Some of the best diving in South Africa can be found at Aliwal Shoal, just 50 km south of Durban. Aliwal is voted as being one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
Besides being able to dive and swim alongside the many tropical fish species and loggerhead turtles, one of the major attractiona at Aliwal is the ragged tooth shark, or 'Raggy' as it is fondly known within the local dive community.
From July to November the ragged tooth sharks visit Aliwal Shoal in their annual migration from the Cape to the St Lucia Marine Reserve for their gestation period. The docile nature of this species means that divers can get extremely close to the sharks without the need for a diving cage, and this attraction draws divers from all over the world.
The other diving attraction is the famous Sardine Run. Often referred to as the 'Serengeti Migration of the Seas', the Sardine Run is one of the most unique diving experiences on the planet and will leave you in awe at the sheer size of this natural phenomenon. Taking place between May and July, the Sardine Run spans most of the South African coastline from Cape Agulhas all the way to the Aliwal Shoal, as these little fish make their way to the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. The migration itself is so vast that it can even be seen from a satellite, with shoals stretching up to 15 km in length and 3-4 km wide. It should be noted that as with any natural event, the timing and sightings can be very unpredictable and not always guaranteed. With such vast numbers of sardines making this incredible journey, predators of all shapes and size will take advantage of the opportunity. The range of predators seen include many species of sharks, dolphins, whales and birds that are never far away and always on the hunt.
There are several dive centres located in the small town of Umkomaas, and the choice of operator is key to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable dive. Experienced, friendly and safety conscious skippers expertly guide the dive boats out through the rough breaking surf off the beach, and the hand picked Dive Masters make sure that both new and experienced divers are looked after and enjoy their diving experience.
Some of the 'fun' at Aliwal is actually launching the boat - the waves breaking against the beach make for an exhilarating boat launch even on a 'calm' day - and sea-sickness tablets are highly recommended.
There are also 3 wrecks at Aliwal, which can be found at a depth of about 30m.