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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. This array of marine life has  earned it the nickname “Aquarium Reef.” Moray eels, scorpionfish and a great diversity of colorful fish await you at this unique spot. If you are in KwaZulu-Natal, Kosi Bay reef is well worth the detour.

An immaculate puffer noted over the sandy beds.
An immaculate puffer observed by a snorkeler over the sandy beds.

How to get to the Kosi Bay Mouth snorkeling spot

Kosi Bay is located at the far north of the east coast of South Africa, a few miles from the border with Mozambique. If you don’t have your own vehicle, you will need to rent a car to get to this remote location. Once at the bay, go to the entrance of the nature reserve. The 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 of the river a 4×4 vehicle is required. You can also walk the approx. a mile and a quarter 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.

Kosi Bay Mouth Aquarium Reef snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Kosi Bay Mouth

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 not as strong.

Kosi Bay Mouth snorkeling exploration tips

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.

Semicircle angelfish and convict tang
The semicircle angelfish (here, a juvenile) is one of the most beautiful fish along the South African coasts.

Snorkeling along the reef, you will come across many different fish. Lagoon triggerfish, masked bannerfish and convict surgeons are very common around the reef.  You might 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.

Paintspotted moray
Big paintspotted morays are frequently seen at this location.

Make sure you watch out for the currents which become stronger at low tide. Other than that, it is a very easy snorkeling spot and good for beginners.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Several lodges and campsites are available near the gate.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaKosi Bay Nature Reserve
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandbank
  • Potential DangersStonefish, lionfish, eels
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsPark entrance fees (see below)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

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.