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Kosi Bay reef is one of the most unique and attractive snorkeling spots in KwaZulu-Natal. Located at the mouth of a river and surrounded by sandbanks, it is home to an abundant underwater life, which earned it its nickname “Aquarium Reef”. Moray eels, scorpionfish and a great diversity of colorful fish await you on this unique spot which is worth the detour if you are visiting the region.
Kosi Bay is located at the far north of the east coast of South Africa, a few kilometers from the border with Mozambique. You can go with a classic vehicle to the entrance of the nature reserve. Park entrance fee is R50/adult (R25/children), +R50/vehicle, +R5pp. community levy (2021). Gate entry times are 6:00 to 18:00.
The entrance gate is accessible by any car, but from the entrance gate to the mouth a 4×4 vehicle is required. You can also walk the approx. 2km to the river mouth. Many nearby lodges also offer 4×4 transfers to the mouth. From the car park at the mouth, a short walk and wade through the water are required to get to the reef.
Guided snorkeling tours, such as those offered by Safari & Surf, can also be a great option to explore the spot with expert marine guides.
Enter the water from the sandbank facing the reef. It’s best to snorkel at high tide because the water pushing in from the sea increases visibility and currents are less strong.
Enter the water at the edge of the reef and swim above it from one edge to the other. The water depth varies with the tide but is not very deep, just deep enough to comfortably glide above the reef.
Snorkeling along the reef, you will come across many fish. Lagoon triggerfish, masked bannerfish and convict surgeons are very common around the reef, in which you may also find moray eels, spotfin lionfish and Indian Ocean lionfish, two very similar species. Huge schools of snappers and grunt also shelter in the deeper areas.
You should watch out for the currents which do become stronger at low tide but otherwise, it is a very easy snorkeling spot and good for beginners.
Several lodges and campsites are available near the gate.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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