A diver’s paradise: Aliwal Shoal

A diver’s paradise: Aliwal Shoal

Whereas many South Africans believe that an African Safari is the quintessential feature of a nature lover’s itinerary, there are alternatives available. From the moment the diving bug bites its oxygen-dependent victims, divers long to submerge themselves into the best diving locations in the world – whether it’s to see what all the fuss is about or to simply be able to say, “I did it.” So it begs the question: which are the best diving sites in the world? Look out for an Audi A3 Sport Back for sale: one of these famed reefs can be found 5 km off the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa – it’s called Aliwal Shoal.

A brief history of Aliwal Shoal

The origins of Aliwal Shoal are those of an ancient sand dune, moulded and hardened into an appropriate home for both hard and soft corals. For hundreds of thousands of years, the rocky reef has evolved into a safe haven for a multitude of tropical sea creatures, sharks, rays, turtles, pelagic and reef fish, and an endless list of other fantastic underwater organisms to see. In truth, the underwater environment located in and around the shoal could never be recreated in an aquarium, no matter how good your local pet shop is!

The reef was named Aliwal Shoal after it almost sunk the three-masted ship, Aliwal, in 1849. However, two other ships weren’t as lucky as being “almost” sunk – there are two incredible diving wrecks (Nebo (1884) and Produce (1974)) near the reef, which also attract the attention of scuba divers.

Why Aliwal Shoal is so well-loved

When the inventor of scuba diving himself, Jacques Cousteau, named Aliwal Shoal one of the best diving sites in the world, then it does bear quite heavy merit. Not only do divers flock to Aliwal Shoal for the magnificent array of sea creatures to see, photograph, and film underwater, but for the spectacular diving experience on offer. The geography of the reef – which is three kilometres long and almost 500 metres wide – is made up of rainbow-coloured walls, potholes, amphitheatres, and it even has places that divers can swim through and be awe-inspired by the underwater cathedrals. And if divers get tired of the reef, they can dive the 24 m-deep and 30 m-deep Nebo and Produce too, respectively.

A special experience

One of the more breath-taking dives on offer near Aliwal Shoal is shark diving (notice no mention of cages). Diving guides and instructors will lead the baited shark dive, where divers get to experience blacktip, tiger, bull, and dusky sharks in their natural environment – a one-of-a-kind experience.

Aliwal Shoal is one of those dives that you can do over and over again without getting bored, and see something brand new each time around. So make sure you book your Durban accommodation for at least a few nights, and spend your days admiring everything there is to see beneath the surface of the ocean.


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