Destination

South Africa

With approximately 1700 miles (2700km) of coastline opening on to two oceans (the Atlantic and the Indian) and its different climate areas, South Africa offers a wide range of underwater environments. The two hotspots for snorkeling in South Africa are the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal and the south coast of the Western Cape (from the Garden Route to Cape Town).

Choose a spot on the map below to see the detailed description:
Do you know a snorkeling spot in South Africa that’s not shown on the map? Send us the details using the "add a spot" form and we’ll add it to the site.

The KwaZulu-Natal coast, bathed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and bordered to the north by Mozambique, is thought to be the home of the southernmost coral reefs in the world. Near the Mozambique border, Kosi Bay, Mabibi and, above all, Sodwana Bay are among the best snorkeling spots in the province. Cape Vidal, near Santa Lucia, and the tidal pools of the Dolphin Coast, north of Durban, are also great options. The Aliwal Shoal reef, made up of sponges and coral, and situated off the coast of Umkomaas (about 30mi/50km south of Durban), is famous as a site for blacktip reef sharks.

Snorkeling Report South Africa
Muizenberg beach, lilac breasted roller, Boulders Beach

On the other side of the country, on the Western Cape coast, the atmosphere is completely different. There is hardly any coral, but superb landscapes of minerals, sponges, sea anemones and whole forests of kelp. Here tropical fish give way to cold-water fish the further west you go. All along the Garden Route, you’ll find one top-quality snorkeling spot after another: Knysna, Mossel Bay or Plettenberg Bay are the best bets. Near Cape Town, you can swim with seals, providing cold water doesn’t bother you.
When to go to South Africa?

In KwaZulu-Natal, the climate is subtropical. The water temperature rarely falls below 68°F/20°C, which makes snorkeling possible all the year round. The coolest months are June and July (about 77°F/25°C), while average temperatures reach their maximum in December, January and February (about 86°F/30°C).

In Western Cape, the climate is of the Mediterranean type, and the influence of the ocean can be felt. You should opt for the summer period (September to April, about 82°F/28°C, with the water at 64°F/18°C), because the winters are cool (about 64°F/18°C), the water temperature falls sharply (59°F/15°C) and the wind blows all along the coast.

Where to spot them?

Convict surgeonfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

South African Blacktail

On the Indian Ocean coast

Raccoon butterflyfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

Indo-Pacific sergeant

On the Indian Ocean coast

Vagabond butterflyfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

Yellow-spotted scorpionfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

Semicircle angelfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

Threadfin butterflyfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

Ember parrotfish

On the Indian Ocean coast

footer-banner