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Last updated on September 26, 2020
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.
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).
You enter the water from the beach, at low tide, from one of the natural pools that are easy to find.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shallow reef with a great diversity of tropical fish
Tidal pools with fish and invertebrates
Free shore access
House reef with a great diversity of tropical fish
Free shore access
Marine reserve with a vibrant reef drop off and many sea turtles
Reef drop off and sea turtles
Sand bank edged by a coral reef