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).

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 South Africa's Tidal Pools
The many tidal pools sprinkled along the Dolphin Coast are ideal for family and kids snorkeling.

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.

Snorkeling South Africa
(Left) Yellowspotted scorpionfish spotted on the Dophin Coast. (Right) Convict surgeonfish in Sodwana Bay.

When to go snorkeling 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.

Best months for snorkeling in Western Cape
Cool and windy
Warm and sunny

Quality snorkel gear

New snorkeling spots to share in South Africa?


More than 220 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!


Recommended underwater cameras

Where to spot them?

Discover on which snorkeling spots you are most likely to see your favorite species