The Aliwal Shoal is a world-renowned shark diving site in South Africa where you will see various species of sharks all year round, a marine-protected area and Mission Blue Hope Spot. Whether you are a macro buff looking for nudies and paper fish or an adrenaline junkie looking for larger pelagic species, like sharks and rays, the Aliwal Shoal has some amazing scuba diving for you.
Best Dive sites in Aliwal Shoal
The baited shark dives here at the Aliwal Shoal are one of a kind, and something that must be done at least once during your time here. With two baited drums full of local sardines and fish oil, the drums slosh in the current creating a scent trail that the resident oceanic black tip sharks follow in to investigate. During the summer months (Nov- March) tiger sharks are seen frequently and can be accompanied by a shy bull shark at times. Hammerheads can be seen as they migrate past in the summer months, as well as the odd great white shark! You never know what you may see on the Aliwal Shoal Baited Shark Dive! There is NO feeding/touching on this dive. It’s a great opportunity to get up close and interact with sharks in a positive manner while capturing the experience on camera.
Quite possibly the most well-known site at the Aliwal Shoal, the Cathedral is on ALL our dive bucket lists! Sitting at 27m, this is an advanced dive site, so if you don’t have it yet, get your advanced certification here. A photographer’s dream, aim for a sunny day when beams of light illuminate the natural amphitheatre of the cathedral mimicking the light shining through church windows. The Cathedral is often filled with ragged sand tiger sharks (seasonally), schooling yellow and black striped coachmen and a few resident potato bass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’re sure to find various species of nudibranchs and the beautiful paper or leaf fish. Don’t forget to look up, as hammerheads, humpback whales and the elusive great white
shark have all been seen here.
Who to dive with
Blue Ocean Dive Resort (a GTS membership recommend dive centre who offers our members discount!) organizes personal shuttle service and luggage assistance to and from the Durban airport. You’re warmly welcomed by the owners and staff of Blue Ocean Dive Resort, a Padi 5 Star IDC Centre, as if you’re an old friend, and by the time you leave, you’ll feel like one! Whether it be a larger cylinder, a last-minute computer repair, tweaking your regs for you, or an appointment with a DAN approved dive doctor, they will ensure that your trip and every dive is as memorable as possible.
The on-site restaurant has the best pizza in town (and beyond) and they only use paper straws! Blue Ocean Dive Resort is a family-run professional business with a fleet of their own boats, the very best skippers, and incredible dive masters, who know the reef like the back of their hands!
Rae Du Plassis is the lead dive master and instructor and a fellow GTS member. She has been diving with sharks here on the Aliwal Shoal for over 10 years and is genuinely excited to “go to work” every day. We also love that the Dive Shop is managed largely by a team of talented female staff and Blue Ocean is one of the Dive Resorts offering a discount to GTS members. GTS ROCK!
Blue Ocean offers 10% discount on diving and accommodation for GTS membership holders.
How to get there
To get to Umkomaas, you will need to fly into King Shaka Airport in Durban, South Africa, which is about half an hour by private car hire from Umkomaas. Keep in mind that when travelling internationally, you MUST collect your checked bags in Johannesburg (point of entry in SA). These are rechecked at no cost to you, as they are tagged to your final destination of Durban.
Andrea Kozlovic is a Canadian-born underwater photographer and avid scuba diver. In the 3 short years she’s been diving, she has accumulated 400+ dives on different continents all over the world. You can keep up to date with her dive travels, photography and conservation efforts, at www.makingwavesphoto.com and @makingwavesphoto on Instagram.