Sodwana Bay is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a vast wetland area that has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. The coast, bathed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, and its coral reefs make it the number one destination for diving and snorkeling in South Africa. Jesser Point, with its natural pools sheltered from the whims of the ocean, is the most accessible snorkeling spot in the region.

Jesser Point, Sodwana Bay

How to get there?

Sodwana Bay is about a 4-hour drive north of Durban. Follow the N2 to Hluhluwe, then turn off onto the R22 towards Mbazwana. Sodwana Bay is then well signposted. The snorkeling spot is on Jesser Point, a rocky point you will have no trouble spotting when you arrive at the main beach. There is an admission fee to the Park (38 rands per person and 47 rands per car a day).

Water entrance

You enter the water from the beach, at low tide, from one of the natural pools that are easy to find.

Sodwana Bay snorkeling map, South Africa

Exploration

The Jesser Point snorkeling spot is made up of a number of natural pools dug out in the rocks. In the areas sheltered from waves and currents, the water level is never over 6 feet (2m). The sea bed is made up of rocks interspersed with small coral formations, but also sea grass and sandy areas. You can explore the different pools and observe, in turn, shoals of convict tang, small groups of sargo and sergeant major fish, and also bright yellow raccoon butterflyfish. Here and there, needlefish dart up to the surface, seeking out their prey.

Shoal of convict tang in Sodwana Bay

This part of the spot is particularly well adapted to children and beginners, who can snorkel in excellent safety conditions. Only experienced snorkelers in ideal weather conditions can venture to the other side of the rocks. In this area, the water level rises quickly, as do the observation possibilities and the quality of the coral beds.

Winter is the best period for snorkeling in Sodwana Bay, when there is less wind. The water temperature is fairly cool at this time of year, so don’t forget your rashguard. The beach is lifeguarded. The conditions are variable and sometimes dangerous, so always ask advice from the lifeguards or National Park guards before getting into the water.

Coral in Jesser Point, Sodwana Bay

Restaurants & accommodation

On the main beach of Sodwana Bay, across from the snorkeling spot, a small beach bar sells drinks and sandwiches. A number of lodges and diving clubs, a few minutes’ walk from the beach, offer accommodation and meals.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Sodwana Bay
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
South African Blacktail Diplodus sargus capensis  
Raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon lunula  
Convict surgeonfish Acanthurus triostegus  
Reef needlefish Strongylura incisa  
Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis  
  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaSodwana Bay National Park
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m in the pools
  • Water entranceA bit tricky, from rocks
  • Potential DangersWaves, currents
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costs38R pp. entrance fee + 47R per vehicle
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.