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Map showing the distribution of the wreck and reef dive sites of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay

This listing of dive sites of False Bay offshore and approaches is part of the regional guide for Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay which is intended to provide the already qualified scuba diver with information which will help to plan dives in the waters of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, whether as a local resident or a visitor. Information is provided without prejudice, and is not guaranteed accurate or complete. Use it at your own risk. Expand or correct it when you can.

The region described is within a day trip by road from any part of greater Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa and includes over 300 named dive sites for which positions are recorded, which is a lot for any single destination.

Detailed information on individual dive sites is provided in the sub-articles linked from this list. The information in the site descriptions ranges from superficial to highly detailed, depending on what is known about the site. There may be a map. The bathymetric charts by SURGMAP are updated as and when new survey data is collected, and are mapped by swimming the contours towing a GPS buoy. They are reasonably accurate – within a couple of metres usually – and reliable for what is shown, but seldom complete. It is quite possible that some tall pinnacles have been missed. There is no guarantee that you will not discover one by hitting it with your boat. If you do, please let us know. We are working on it. Bathymetric maps and images provided by Wreckless Marine are produced by state of the art multibeam sonar and are generally accurate to within 1 m in position and depth where position and depth are given, and are otherwise metre-scale accurate representations of the underwater topography. Their colour coding for depth may not be consistent.

In some instances a dive site sub-article will include several sites which are in close proximity, as much of the information will be common to them all. In other cases, usually involving wreck sites, two adjacent sites will each have its own sub-article, but if two or more wrecks lie in the same position, or with substantial overlap, they will be described in the same sub-article.

Other dive sites in the Cape Peninsula and False Bay region can be found at:


The dive sites described in these articles include some which are well known favourites and have been dived frequently and by many divers for decades, and also newly described sites, which may only have been dived a few times, and by a few divers. There are also sites which have been known for years, but seldom dived due to their relative inaccessibility, and a few which are basically not particularly interesting, but have been included in the interests of completeness, as the information is available, and occasionally people want to know what they are like or need to dive there. With a few exceptions, the information provided is based on personal observation at the sites by Wikivoyagers. All photos of marine life and features of interest were taken at the listed site, but seasons and conditions change, and your experience may differ.

Geographical information is provided in as much detail as is available. Sites are geolinked, which allows them to be identified on various internet map systems. Positional accuracy is usually good. The maps provided should be usable, to scale, and accurate, but are not guaranteed either to be correct in all details, or complete. Clicking on the image will open a link to a higher resolution image.

Offshore dive sites of False Bay
Unusually good viz in False Bay at Deep South Whittle Reef as divers complete their decompression at 6 m on a deco bar. Cape Point in the background. About 7 km north at Blue Flame Pinnacles on thr same day there was a plankton bloom in the top 3 m, and the water was green, but clearer below this layer.

Introduction and some tips on diving the Central False Bay sites.

All the sites in this area are fairly far offshore, and can only be done as boat dives. They are also relatively deep and because of the long boat trip and exposed positions, generally only dived when conditions are expected to be good.

This area is exposed to the same south-westerly swells as the Atlantic coast, but they must travel over a much wider continental shelf, much of which is less than 100 m deep, so there is a significant dissipation of wave energy before it reaches the shoreline.

During summer the strong south-easterly winds have sufficient fetch to produce sea states which are unpleasant and though the wave action may not produce a great deal of surge at the bottom, the surface conditions may be unsuitable for diving, and in winter the north-wester can have a similar effect.

As the area is affected by the winds and wave systems of both winter and summer, there is less seasonal correlation to suitable conditions, and it is simply dived when conditions are good, which is not very often, but may be more often than previously thought, and at some reefs the visibility may be better than inshore.

It is quite common for the surface visibility offshore to be poor, with better visibility at depth, but the reverse effect can also occur. These effects are often associated with a thermocline, which is associated with midsummer to autumn.

Water temperature can differ with depth in summer from 20°C on the surface to 9°C at the bottom at 28 m, sometimes with a distinct thermocline, though usually there is less of a change, and in winter the temperature may be nearly constant at all depths. A dry suit is recommended for any of these dives, but they are also often done in wetsuits.

There is often a surface current associated with wind at the offshore sites, which generally sets to the left of the wind direction.



Map of the dive sites of the Whittle Rock area.
Jan Bruin at Whittle Rock
Fish over the reef at Rocky Bank
Reef invertebrate cover at Rocky Bank

These sites are not dived as frequently as the inshore reefs, as they are further from the launch sites and therefore take considerably longer to get to. They are also more exposed to the weather from all directions, so the trip is often bumpy. However, as they are relatively deep, and far offshore, the visibility can be very good, and may well be better than inshore areas at any given time, particularly with an onshore wind and swell. Unfortunately this is not reliably predictable.

Local geography: The topography of the reefs differs according to the geology of the area. As a result the character varies considerably.

Seal Island, Whittle Rock and the associated reefs, Anvil Rock and Bellows Rock are granite outcrops, probably all part of the Cape Peninsula pluton, and the exposed granite is heavily weathered in corestone landforms. Steenbras Reef is sedimentary rock, thought to be Tygerberg formation of the Malmesbury series, but looks more like sandstone than shale, East Shoal and York Shoal are also hard sedimentary rock, and Rocky Bank is sandstone, probably of the Table Mountain group. The character of the sedimentary rock reefs is largely determined by dip, the angle of tilt of the strata, and to a lesser degree by strike, the orientation of the strata relative to the cardinal directions.

The sites include:

Northern False Bay offshore reefs[edit]

  • 1 Choirboys Reef: S34°08.005' E18°45.270'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 20 to about 26 m
    Hard sedimentary rock reef, in moderate to low profile ridges and gullies.
  • 2 Seal Island: S34°08.25’ E018°34.95’
    Cage dive. Boat access only. Depth shallow — the cages are only about 2 m deep.
    These dives are for one purpose only: to see sharks. Other fish may be attracted to the bait, but that is not what you do this dive to see. Cage dives must be done through a licensed Shark Cage Diving charter.
  • 3 East Shoal: S34°08'54" E18°38'47"
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth probably about 2 to 25 m.
    The reef is said to be Table Mountain sandstone. A seldom dived site due to distance from launch sites, with an astonishing density of echinoderms.
  • 4 Drop Zone: S34°08.561' E18°45.829'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth probably from about 12 to 25 m.
    The moderate profile but extensive reef is sedimentary rock, either Malmesbury series or Table Mountain sandstone. It was only dived by charter boats beginning in 2014. Colourful invertebrates, including large numbers of gorgonian sea fans.
  • 5 Moddergat: S34°09.150' E18°49.650'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth probably from about 13 to 16 m.
    The moderate to low profile but extensive reef is sedimentary rock, either Malmesbury series or Table Mountain sandstone. It was only dived by charter boats beginning in 2014. Colourful invertebrates, including quite large numbers of nudibranchs. Also known as a fishing spot, but not many fish seen of a size worth catching.
  • 6 Sterretjies Reef: S34°09.364' E18°45.039'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 16 to about 30 m
    Hard sedimentary rock reef, in moderate to low profile ridges and gullies.
  • 7 York Shoal: S34°09.367', E018°35.583'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth is between 4 and about 28 m.
    The reef is a hard sedimentary rock. It is near Seal Island where Great White sharks are a tourist attraction.
  • Steenbras Deep Reef
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 17 to 30 m.
    This site is at the southern end of a long ridge towards the east side of False Bay. The southern pinnacle is irregular in shape, with a large number of cracks, grooves and indentations, mostly not very deep. Sand is coarse and shelly with lots of bryozoan detritus at the edge of the reef. There is also a northern pinnacle, though both are relatively flat.
    8 Steenbras Deep - North Pinnacles: S34°12.15’ E018°45.57’
    9 Steenbras Deep - South Pinnacles: S34°12.642’ E018°45.498’
  • Blue Flame Pinnacles
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 25 to 33 m.
    A group of small, fairly deep reefs between the wreck of the Fleur and Simon's Town. Depths between 25 and something over 30 m.
    10 Blue Flame North Pinnacles: S34°12.700’ E018°33.250’.
    11 Blue Flame South Pinnacles: S34°12.837’ E018°33.355’.

Whittle Rock and surrounds[edit]

Whittle rock and surrounds

This is an extensive region of granite reef east of Miller's Point. It can be considered as being four areas, with the main reef at Whittle Rock as the focus, and Off-Whittle Western Reefs, Eastern Reefs and Southern Reefs as a simple way of distinguishing the general area of the sites. Whittle Rock is the shallowest, most varied, and best known sector There are reefs to the east of similar depth, some of which have been dived and recorded, reefs to the west which are deeper on average due to their lower profile, which are unknown, as no-one has reported diving on them, and deeper reefs to the south, of rather varied profile, some of which have been dived and recorded.

Off-Whittle Eastern Reefs[edit]
  • 12 Off-Whittle Ridge: S34°14.364' E18°34.847'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 19 m to more than 30 m.
    An area of granite corestone reef nearly 2 km to the west-north-west of Whittle Rock. The pinnacle is in the form of a ridge running roughly north-south with a cluster of large boulders to the northeast, and is quite small. The topography is rugged in the ridge area, with a wall down to about 25 m on the west side.
  • 13 Bruce's Mark S34°14.880' E18°34.880'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. A few kilometers east of Whittle Rock. 44 m on the sand and 17 m at the top of the pinnacle. Massive granite ridges and a large area of lower reef.
Whittle Rock Reefs[edit]
Off-Whittle Western Reefs[edit]
Off-Whittle Southern Reefs[edit]
  • 42 Midway Ridge: S34°15.116' E18°34.290'
    Reef dive, boat access only. Southwest of Bruce's Mark, about halfway between Whittle Rock main reef and Bruce's Mark. A compact granite outcrop rising from about 46 m on the sand to about 37 m deep at the rounded top, running northwest-southeast, with several deep transverse cracks and steep sides.
  • 43 Sandy-top Ridge: S34°15.153' E18°34.709'
    Reef dive, boat access only. South of Bruce's Mark. A smallish granite outcrop rising from about 47 m on the sand to about 32 m deep at the flattish top, which has a sandy depression at the south end of the high reef.
  • 44 Lonehill Reef: S34°16.296' E18°32.723' (separate reef to the south of Whittle Rock)
    Reef dive. Boat access only.
    A patch of reef southwest of Whittle Rock reef on the sand at about  m, rising to  m on top. Much of the reef is fairly flat and covered with moderate sized boulders with sand between them. Known depths between 39 and 43 m. Surveyed by multibeam in 2022, first dived in 2022.
  • 45 Billy's Reef: S34°15.237' E18°34.126' Southeast of Whittle Rock.
  • 46 Josh's Reef: S34°16.334' E18°33.075' (separate reef to the south of Whittle Rock)
    Reef dive. Boat access only.
    A patch of reef south of Whittle Rock reef on the sand at about 48 m, rising to 32 m on top, with nice ledges to the southwest with a fine display of noble corals. Much of the reef is fairly flat and covered with moderate sized boulders. Surveyed by multibeam in 2022.
  • 47 Wreckless Ridge: S34°15.541' E18°33.970' (separate reef to the south of Whittle Rock)
    Reef dive. Boat access only.
    A granite ridge south of Whittle Rock reef on the sand at 48 m, rising to 30 m on top, with nice ledges and drop-offs. Surveyed by multibeam.
  • 48 Southwood's Corner, or Deep Southeast Whittle Ridge: S34°16.097' E018°34.837'
    Reef dive. Boat access only.
    A set of granite ridges south of Whittle Rock reef on the sand at 55 m, rising to 37 m on top, running roughly north to south with quite a steep slope to west and a sharp crest. Surveyed by multibeam from Wreckless II.
  • 49 Deep South Whittle Reef: S34°16.414' E018°34.009'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 40 m to about 55 m.
    The reef is a fairly large expanse of Peninsula granite corestone surrounded by sand. The central area around the high point is a large, moderate profile outcrop, split into ridges and gullies, some with sand bottoms up to 45 m depth. Depth at the surrounding sand is reported as 55 m to the north, and 53 m at a sand tongue to the south, with more reef on the other side. Surveyed by multibeam, very little has been dived.

Southern False Bay offshore reefs[edit]

  • Anvil Rock
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 3 m to more than 20 m.
    The reef is Peninsula granite corestone.
    50 Anvil Rock 3 m pinnacle: S34°22.218' E18°31.090'
    51 Anvil Rock caves: S36°22.244' E18°31.068' — Approx 20 m deep, area of nice caves/swim-throughs:
  • 52 Bellows Rock
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Bellows Rock breaks the surface. Depth in the immediate vicinity can exceed 40 m. The south wall may be the highest continuous face wall dive in the Cape Peninsula, and is largely unexplored. The east side of Bellows Rock is the site of the wreck of the SS Lusitania.
    The reef is Peninsula granite corestone.
    53 Lusi Pinnacle: S34°23.419’ E018°29.485’
    54 Wreckless Reef: S34°23.33’ E018°29.39’
  • Rocky Bank
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 22 m to more than 50 m on the south side.
    The reef is said to be Table Mountain sandstone. It is a beautiful site with bright colourful reef invertebrates, but is seldom dived due to the distance from the nearest launch site. Visibility is often better than inside the bay.
    55 36 m Pablo's steps drop: S34°25.160’ E018°35.571’
    56 32 m drop: S34°24.994’ E018°35.463’
    57 30 m drop: S34°24.957’ E018°35.473’
    58 25 m drop: S34°24.906’ E018°35.478’
    59 22 m drop: S34°24.820’ E018°35.473’
  • Hangklip Ridge
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth varies considerably from fairly shallow inshore to more than 100 m
    The reef is said to be Table Mountain sandstone. Deeper areas may be Tygerberg series. Little information is available. The ridge is shown on the bathymetric charts as extending south-west from Cape Hangklip for several kilometers, and is known to affect the water circulation in False Bay.


SATS General Botha in 1926

There are a number of wrecks in central False Bay. Only the ones that are identified and dived are listed here. Exploration of previously undived wrecks occurs sporadically and the list is sure to increase over time. Most of these wrecks are relatively deep, and are all too far offshore to dive from the shore. Some of them are considered among the best dive sites of the Cape Town area, at least partly because of the difficult access and rarity value.

Local geography: The "Lusitania" is on a site where the granite reef is ruggedly spectacular and the boat trip provides a magnificent view of Cape Point. The General Botha, Bloemfontein and Fleur are on the flat sand bottom of the bay and in these cases, only the wreck is of much interest. The Godetia is relatively shallow and on a mixed sand and sedimentary rock reef bottom.

The sites include:

  • 60 ST Godetia: S34°6’ E018°44’
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth: 15 to 17 m.
    The SS Godetia was a steam trawler operated by Irvin and Johnson that was sunk for target practice by the SA Air Force. The wreck is very broken up and lies on a bottom of small patches of rocky reef and sand at a maximum depth of about 17 to 18 m. The single scotch boiler and engine block are the most prominent artifacts, and stand on top of a small section of reef, surrounded by fragments of various sizes. The propeller shaft and propeller extend slightly to the west.
  • 61 SAS Fleur: S34°10.832’ E018°33.895’
    Wreck dive. Deep dive. Boat access only. Depth: 35 to 41 m.
    The SAS Fleur was a 'Bar' class boom defence vessel, formerly HMS Barbrake. The wreck lies almost level embedded in the bottom as if floating in sand with the weather deck at about 35 m. Hull structure is collapsing.
  • Offshore Barges
    • 62 North Barge: S34°12.473' E18°30.950'
    • 63 South Barge: S34°12.483' E18°30.936'
    Wreck dive, Deep dive, boat access only. Depth: about 40 m
    This is one of the closest 40 m wreck dives to a convenient launch site in False Bay
  • 64 SATS General Botha: S34°13.679’ E018°38.290’
    Wreck dive. Deep dive. Boat access only. Depth: 47 to 54 m.
    The River-Class cruiser HMS Thames was built in 1886 and later purchased from the Royal Navy and donated to the South African Government as a training ship for seafarers. The vessel was renamed the "South African Training Ship (SATS) General Botha".
    The General Botha was scuttled by gunfire from the Scala Battery in Simon’s Town on 13th May 1947. The hull is substantially intact from the ram bow to some metres abaft amidships, approximately level with the aft gun sponsons.
  • 65 SAS Bloemfontein: near S34°14.655’ E018°39.952’
    Wreck dive. Deep dive. Boat access only. Depth: 47 to 55 m.
    The SAS Bloemfontein M439 was a sister ship to the SAS Pietermaritzburg and has similar dimensions and layout. This Algerine class Minesweeper was built as HMS Rosamund, and was scuttled on 5 June 1967.
    The ship lies upright on a flat sand bottom and is substantially intact.
  • 66 SS Lusitania: S34°23.40’ E018°29.65’
    Wreck dive. Deep dive. Boat access only. Depth: 35 to 40 m.
    Portuguese twin-screw liner of 5557 tons, built in 1906. Wrecked on Bellows Rock off Cape Point on 18 April 1911 in fog while on a voyage from Lourenco Marques (Maputo). The granite reef slopes down from Bellows Rock to the east, and drops off almost vertically from about 15 m to about 33 m, where the broken wreckage lies between the wall and some boulders further east. The wreck is very easy to find, and spread over a fairly large area down to 40 m.


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