Scuba diving in Cape Town has a bit of an unfair advantage. The beautiful coastlines of South Africa’s Mother City offer not one but two oceans – the cold Atlantic and the warm Indian. For those wanting to learn how to scuba or those wanting to log some memorable hours underwater, this means a huge range of diving opportunities on offer.
If the thought of venturing deep below the surface of the ocean has you daydreaming about aquatic life, hidden shipwrecks and azure waters, learning how to scuba dive may just be the most amazing journey you could ever take. Keep reading to find out what you should know about getting started, and where you can find the best dive spots in Cape Town.
Scuba 101 – The Basics
Qualified divers can skip this part and head straight to the dive spot suggestions. Those wanting to get qualified need to get started by finding a dive school. There are many different tourism and adventure operators that offer courses of all types. For once-off dives, you can get a resort course that covers the basics and allows you to complete a guided dive. The best course however is the PADI Open Water qualification. PADI is an internationally recognised qualification, which means you can dive pretty much anywhere once you have your license.
The Open Water course teaches you everything you need to know, from the various equipment and apparatus to buoyancy, air, techniques, safety and other theory. You will take a written exam and do controlled dives in a pool, followed by open water dives in the ocean. At the end of the course, you will receive your license, a log book, dive chart and other tools to help you plan your dives. Be warned – you need to be a fairly strong swimmer who is comfortable in the water.
Best Places to Scuba Dive in Cape Town
Now that the paperwork and qualification stuff is out of the way, the fun part can begin. Cape Town is a spectacular place for diving, with a diversity of marine life, aquatic scenery, shipwrecks and other underwater wonders to enjoy. Depending on which ocean you choose to explore, you will discover unique landscapes across many different conditions on the Atlantic and False Bay coastlines. Some of the best places to scuba dive in Cape Town include the following:
Atlantic Ocean Dive Sites:
- Seal Island – just off Hout Bay, this boat-based guided dive offers the chance to dive with Cape fur seals.
- Stonehenge – excellent reef diving with kelp forests, seals, dolphins and soft corals in the shallow parts.
- Oudekraal – near Camps Bay, this spot is ideal for kelp forests, a few shipwrecks and a fairly easy shore dive.
- The Antipolis – view the ancient Greek shipwreck found here, along with kelp forests, turquoise waters and sun streaming into the beautiful engine room.
- The Steps – coral reef diving at its best, with amazing colourful fish, drops in the middle of the reef and interesting rock formations.
False Bay Dive Sites:
- A-Frame – a popular shore dive, with a cave, swim-throughs, octopi, cuttlefish, sandy shores and kelp forests.
- Castle Rock – this shore dive takes place in a marine reserve, and is one of the best places to see Red Roman, Stump nose and Hottentot. Also great for night dives.
- Outer Castle – dive with rays, explore a huge cave and view a marine-rich reef in this adventurous boat dive.
- The Lusitania – this shipwreck dates back to 1911, and is ideal for experienced divers seeking a challenge!
- Pyramid Rock – a jumble of rocks, colourful marine life, warm waters and kelp forests make this shore dive a great encounter.
Final Advice for Scuba Divers
Remember to follow the basic rules of scuba – use the buddy system, plan your dives carefully and make regular decompression stops as needed, depending on the dive depth. If you are new to scuba, it is best to stick with guided dives until you are ready to tackle buddy dives. Stay safe and remember to bring along your underwater camera to capture your underwater adventures!
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