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

This listing of dive sites of the Cape Peninsula west coast 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:

Understand[edit]

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.

Dive sites of the Atlantic Coast of the Cape Peninsula

Introduction and some tips on diving the Atlantic coast.

This coastline from Table Bay to Cape Point is exposed to the south westerly swells generated by the cold fronts of the Southern Ocean. The continental shelf is narrow in this part of the coast and swells are not greatly influenced by the narrow band of shallow water, so they retain most of their deep-water energy. These swells pound this coast most of the winter, and to a lesser extent in summer, so diving in this region is mostly a summer activity, and the frontal weather patterns far to the south are more important than local weather for swell prediction.

North westerly winds are a feature of the approach of a cold front, and in winter they can be very strong for a few days before swinging to southwesterly as the front passes. These north westerly winter storms were responsible for many shipwrecks in Table Bay and other parts of the west coast, and the associated wind waves can be severe. However the fetch is short and these onshore wind waves do not last long after the storm. They do mess up the visibility though, and this effect lasts for some time after the waves have dissipated.

The south easterly winds are longshore to offshore in this area and tend to knock the swell down a bit. They also cause an offshore displacement of the surface water, which results in deeper water rising to take its place. This upwelling brings colder, initially cleaner water to the inshore areas, and can produce conditions of 20 m+ visibility and temperatures down to 8°C, though more usually 10° to 12°C. The diving is wonderful if you are sufficiently insulated. Out of the water, however, it is commonly fine and hot, with blazing sunshine, high ultraviolet levels, and air temperatures in the high 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. This means you will be overheating until you get in the water, hence the comment that summer diving in Cape Town is one easy step from hyperthermia to hypothermia. Being hot at the start of a dive and cold during the ascent is not good for decompression.

There is no escaping the need for a well-fitting, thick (preferably 7 mm), wet suit, or a dry suit with an adequate undergarment for these conditions if you intend to stay for more than a few minutes. Carrying a bottle of water with your equipment to wet the outside of your suit before or after putting it on will help keep the temperature down due to evaporative cooling, specially on a windy day. Overheating after leaving the water is seldom a problem. The alternative option of kitting up at the water's edge requires a shore party to look after your clothes, etc., while you dive, so it has become less common. Do not leave equipment unattended if you wish to see it again.

An upwelling is frequently followed by a plankton bloom, often called a red tide. This will reduce visibility considerably, particularly near the surface. Often the water will be much clearer below the surface layer, though the light levels may be a bit dim and the colour relatively green, or even brownish. The phytoplankton will bloom while the sun shines, so it is much more developed in summer.

The south-easter is an offshore wind at some sites, and besides its influence on temperature and visibility, it also affects the swim back to shore after the dive. The south-easter can appear seemingly out of nowhere on a previously cloudless and windless day, and build up to near gale force in the time you are underwater on a dive, though it is usually predictable, so take note of weather forecasts, and in any case, allow sufficient reserve air to swim back a few metres below the surface. A compass is extremely useful if you do this as it allows you to swim shallower, which is good for air consumption, decompression and warmth. A depth of 3 to 5 m is recommended for a long swim home. The strong south-easter in these cases produces a short, steep wind chop with white-caps which does not penetrate to any significant depth, but the constant slapping of waves and the spray in the air can make snorkelling unpleasant and difficult. There may also be a shallow offshore wind drift (surface current), but this takes some time to develop and gets rapidly weaker with depth and is not usually a problem below about a metre depth inshore. Further offshore the wind induced current can take you several hundred metres during a decompression stop, at a rate of about 0.5 to 1 kph.

When boat diving a deployable surface marker buoy (DSMB), also known as a decompression buoy, is useful to both facilitate controlled ascent and accurate decompression or safety stop depth, and as a signal to the boat that you are on your way up. In strong wind conditions it will also improve your visibility on the surface, specially if your equipment is all black, so it is worth carrying even if only as a signalling device. Bright yellow has been shown to be best for all round visibility at sea, but orange and red are fairly good too.

Sites[edit]

Table Bay and approaches[edit]

Robben Island[edit]

Dive sites from Robben Island to Camps Bay

These sites are all boat dives. There is no other practical way to get to them, as they are all several kilometres from the mainland across major shipping lanes. The waters around Robben Island were proclaimed a Marine Protected Area in 2019, so a permit is required to dive there. The boat operator will have to have a permit for the restricted area.

Local geography: Robben Island is a low, rocky shored island in the mouth of Table Bay. The island and surrounding reefs are rock of the Tygerberg series of the late Precambrian Malmesbury group. These are folded sedimentary rocks, frequently with very steep dip, which often weather to form rather jagged outcrops.

The sites include:

  • 1 MV Treasure: S33°40.45' E018°19.95' (approximate)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth: 30 to 50 m
    On 23 June 2000 the damaged Panamanian registered bulk ore carrier sank off the coast of South Africa approximately 7 nautical miles north of Robben Island.
    The vessel lies upright on a fairly level bottom at about 50 m depth. The superstructure was removed shortly after the sinking by sawing it off at about 30 m depth with a cable towed by tugs as it was a hazard to shipping.
  • 2 Robben Island steamer wreck: S33°49.886', E018°21.524' (approximate centre of wreckage)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth: 30 to 36 m
    Unidentified wreck of a steel steamship about 48 m long in reasonable structural condition.
  • 3 MV Afrikaner: S33°50.012' E018°20.686'
    Boat access only. Deep wreck dive. Depth 43 to 50 m
    The 61 m fishing vessel struck Whale Rock in 1993 and sank while being towed away from the rock.
  • 4 Whale Rock: S33°50.112' E018°22.858'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Mostly less than 10 m
    A large shoal area of rocky reef, usually with a break over the pinnacle, which is the last resting place of a few ships.
  • 5 SS Hypatia: S33°50.10’ E018°22.90’ (Turner 1988)
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Shallow, maximum probably about 15 m
    British Houston Line steamer of 5 728 tons, built in 1902. Wrecked on Whale Rock in Table Bay on 29 October 1929 in fog while on a voyage from Beira to New York with a cargo of blister copper and chrome ore.
  • 6 MV Daeyang Family: S33°50.388' E18°23.133
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 15 m
    A large Korean ore carrier which was wrecked on Whale Rock on 1 March 1986 when anchors dragged in heavy weather. The wreckage lies at a depth of about 15:nbsp;m

Table Bay[edit]

Entering the Victoria basin of Cape Town harbour after a dive trip.
  • 7 MV Winton: S33°52.1514' E18°29.1828 (Engine block)
    Wreck dive. Boat access, though shore access is feasible. Close to surf line. Maximum depth about 6 m.
    Wreck of a small steel freighter on a flat sand bottom.
  • 8 MV Gemsbok: S33°53.0' E018°20.5'
    Boat access only. Deep wreck dive. Depth about 57 m on the sand.
    The 50 m 313 tonne buoy tender MV Gemsbok capsized and sank about 4 km from Green Point Lighthouse on 2 Seprember 1975 while transferring an anchor chain of a cargo vessel. The chain snagged and the weight of the chain caused the vessel to capsize and sink within minutes. The wreck lies on its starboard side.
  • 9 Highfields: S33°53.13’ E018°25.83’ (Bow)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Close to major shipping lane at harbour mouth. Maximum depth 24 m.
    Wreck of a steel barque which sank after a collision in 1902.
  • 10 SS Cape Matapan: S33°53.233' E018°24.533' About a kilometer north of Granger Bay harbour
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 25 m. The wreck is close to the shipping lane and there are no landmarks nearby.
    Wreck of a steel fishing boat which was sunk in a collision in 1960 in heavy fog.
  • 11 RMS Athens: S33°53.85’ E018°24.57’
    Wreck and reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 7 m
    Union Company iron steam screw barque of 739 tons, built in 1856. Wrecked between Mouille Point and Green Point on 17 May 1865 during a north-west gale while trying to steam out of Table Bay. The site can be identified by the remains of the engine-block, which is visible above the water.
  • 12 SS SA Seafarer: S33°53.80’ E018°23.80’
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access recommended. Depth: Fairly shallow. Mostly between 5 and 9 m.
    The 8000-ton Safmarine freighter SS South African Seafarer was wrecked in a north westerly gale on 1 July 1966, and lies in front of the Green Point lighthouse.
  • 13 Two Oceans Aquarium: S33°54.476’ E018°25.074’
    Shore access only. Confined water. Maximum depth 6 m
    Visitors may dive in the Predator tank, which is a large oval tank, or the Kelp Forest tank, which is roughly square. There are large windows, almost full height on one side, through which you can observe the other visitors watching you if you get bored with the fish.

Sea Point[edit]

The sea point contact zone, where mixing of the intrusive granite of the Peninsula pluton with the older Tygerberg slates can be seen at the shoreline.

Local Geography: There is a narrow coastal plain at the base of Signal Hill and Lion’s Head. The contact zone between the intrusive granites of the Peninsula pluton and the sedimentary greywackes and shales of the Tygerberg formation of the Malmesbury series is in this area. The northern sites are on the Tygerberg rocks, which are steeply dipped and form parallel ridges and gullies, while Bantry Bay is on the granite, and has the characteristic corestone topography of rounded boulders and outcrops with sand bottom in deeper areas.

The sites include:

  • 14 Three Anchor Bay: S33°54.36’ E018°23.85’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: Shallow
    A small sand bottomed bay with reef to both sides. Easy access.
  • 15 Sea Point Ridge Pinnacles: S33°54.905' E018°21.421'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 17 to 27 m
    An isolated pair of corestone pinnacles on a low granite ridge.
  • Bantry Bay
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access
    A little bay at the southern end of Sea Point, towards Clifton.
    • 16 Bantry Bay: S33°55.56’ E018°22.65’. A shallow shoreline reef, less than 10 m deep
    • 17 Bantry Bay Pinnacles: S33°55.535’ E018°22.156’. A cluster of shallow pinnacles on a flattish rocky base at about 15 m.

Clifton[edit]

Reef life on the arch at North Paw

Clifton Rocks is generally considered a shore dive, but the Paws are quite a distance offshore and are only dived from boats. Parking in Clifton is often a problem, particularly in the kind of weather in which you may wish to go diving. Weekdays will be better and early morning will help. The offshore dives avoid this problem by using boats from Oceana Power Boat Club slipway, which has its own parking problems, though not quite as serious.

Local geography: The suburb of Clifton is built on the rather steep slopes of the base of Lion’s Head above Clifton Bay. There are four beaches in the bay which are famous for white sand, shelter from the south easter and cold water. North Paw is offshore of the headland to the north, and South Paw is offshore from Clifton Rocks, on the south headland. Access to the area by road is from Sea Point to the north and Camps Bay to the south.

The reefs of Clifton are granite corestones of the Peninsula pluton. In this area the granite base of the mountain extends to approximately the height of Signal Hill, and is capped by sandstones of the Graafwater and Table Mountain formations. Occasional rounded granite outcrops can be seen on the mountainside, which is mostly deeply weathered granitic saprolite, with some sandstone scree.

The sites include:

  • North Lion’s Paw: S33°55.854’ E018°21.849’ (Exposed Rock)
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 15 to 23 m.
    A spectacular site in good conditions. A popular part of the site is the cave rock, which is slightly offshore from the exposed rocks.
    18 Northern Pinnacles
    19 Monty's Pinnacles
    20 Eastern Pinnacle
    21 Barry's Pinnacles
    22 Cave Rock
    23 Main Reef
  • 24 South Lion’s Paw: S33°56.308’ E018°21.890’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 20 m.
    An extensive reef of granite corestones marked by the large outcrop which extends above the water.
  • 25 Clifton Rocks: S33°56.346’ E018°22.222’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 14 m.
    A large area of granite corestones, bounded to the north by sand bottom. The reef extends to seaward from the shoreline at the point.
  • 26 Cleeve's Tunnel: S33°56.540' E018°21.894'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Maximum depth about 20 m.
    A large corestone pinnacle with a long low tunnel

Camps Bay[edit]

Local geography: Camps Bay is in the corner made by Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. Access is over Kloof Nek from the city bowl, and round the coast from Sea Point via Clifton to the north, and from Hout Bay via Oudekraal to the south

The reefs of this area are like those of Clifton.

The sites include:

  • 27 Bakoven Rock: S33°57.555’ E018°22.204’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth 17 m.
    This site is generally considered a shore dive. Parking is limited so it is most conveniently dived during the working week when there is less competition for space, otherwise get there early.

Oudekraal[edit]

Dive sites from Oudekraal to Hout Bay

This area includes some of the best and most popular shore dive sites on the Atlantic seaboard. Most can also be dived from a boat, and this is of particular importance to divers with restricted mobility on shore, as there is generally a rugged bit of coast to negotiate and in some cases a long climb. There is also a moderate to long swim at some of the sites, and at some states of the tide, heavy kelp inshore.

Local geography: The coastline at the base of the Twelve Apostles range just south of Table Mountain is steep, and south of Camps Bay, virtually undeveloped. Fortunately for divers, the coastal road is not far above sea level in the north of this area, and though there are not many off-road parking areas, the road is wide enough to park along the side.

This is an area of pale grey Peninsula Granite corestone outcrops and boulders with some Table Mountain Sandstone boulders which have rolled down the mountainside to the water’s edge. The mountainside below the sandstone cliffs is deeply weathered granite saprolite with occasional corestone outcrops. The cuttings at the roadside display the granular yellow-brown saprolite with a thin soil covering. The underwater topography is almost entirely corestones exposed by erosion, surrounded by samd, and is a continuation of the granite boulders and outcrops at the water’s edge.

Dive sites of North Oudekraal

North Oudekraal

The sites include:

  • 28 Dreadlocks Reef: S33°58'22.05" S18°21'42.59"
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 1.5 to 20 m.
    A relatively new site. First survey 30th January 2010. This granite ridge peaks about 1.5m from the surface at low tide, but the tip is small and seldom breaks. Bottom on low granite at about 20m. Colourful and diverse invertebrate cover, and notable for the relatively large colonies of Dreadlock hydroids.
  • 29 Geldkis Blinder: S33°58.67’ E018°21.62’
    Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth about 20 m.
    A relatively infrequently dived site. The highest rock on the reef is a blinder beyond Geldkis rock which occasionally breaks the surface at low tide. Huge boulders and outcrops, and a few swimthroughs.
  • 30 Strawberry Rocks: S33°58.725’ E018°21.658’ (approximate)
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 15 m.
    The two smaller rocks to the north of Geldkis rock. Several small caverns and swimthroughs.
  • 31 Geldkis: S33°58.73’ E018°21.61’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 15 m.
    A large group of rocks with lots of overhangs, swimthroughs and chimneys. The Dutch East Indiaman Het huys te Craijestein was wrecked on the rocks in the bay at Oudekraal on 27 May 1698 in thick mist. Three chests of treasure disappeared and the name "Geldkis" (money-chest) appears on maps of the area and is now applied to the offshore rocks.
  • 32 Boardroom: S33°58.761’ E018°21.151’
    Reef dive. Boat access, though possible from shore. Maximum depth about 21 m near the pinnacle, but deeper water nearby – about 10 m on top.
    A very large boulder with a large swimthrough cave and a large overhang in an area of high profile boulder reef.
  • 33 Het Huis te Kraaiestein: S33°58.85’ E018°21.65’
    Wreck and reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth 10 m.
    Remnants of the Dutch East Indiaman Het Huis te Kraaiestein of 1,154 tons, which was wrecked in the bay at Oudekraal on 27 May 1698 in thick mist while trying to find the way into Table Bay. Some cannon, anchors and a few baulks of timber are all that are usually visible above the sand.
  • 34 Mushroom Pinnacle: S33°58.781’ E018°21.521’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth 17 m.
    A submerged granite tor (stacked group of large corestones) between Geldkis and Justin’s Caves. The pinnacle is surrounded by lower outcrops separated by sandy gullies.
  • 35 Sandy Cove: S33°58.90’ E018°21.65’
    Reef dive. Confined waters. Shore access. Maximum depth 4 m
    A shallow sheltered cove at Oudekraal, suitable for open water training exercises, refresher courses and testing equipment when you don’t need depth. Entry area for several other sites.
  • 36 Justin’s Caves: S33°58.85’ E018°21.50’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 13 m.
    A group of big granite corestone outcrops and boulders with several swimthroughs, overhangs, caves and deep narrow gaps between the rocks. Spectacular in good visibility, colourful reef life.
Dive sites of Central Oudekraal

Central Oudekraal

The sites include:

  • 37 Antipolis: S33°59.06’ E018°21.37’ (Bow section)
    Wreck and reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 10 m.
    The tankers Romelia and Antipolis were under tow on 28 July 1977 during a north westerly gale when the tow cable to the Antipolis snagged on the sea bed. In the ensuing confusion the cables broke and the two ships were driven aground by the wind. The Antipolis ran aground at Oudekraal and was later cut down to water level.
  • 38 Klein Pannekoek: S33°58.91’ E018°21.09’
    Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth about 15 m.
    A group of large fairly low and flat rocks visible offshore to the west of the Antipolis and north of Coral Gardens.
Dive sites of South Oudekraal

South Oudekraal

The sites include:

  • 39 Groot Pannekoek: S33°59.13’ E018°20.75’
    Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth about 15 m
    A large flattish outcrop of granite, which extends a short way above the sea level at all tides. Some overhangs, crevices and small caves.
  • Coral Gardens (Oudekraal): S33°59.270' E018°20.782' (The pinnacles)
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth 17 m
    A spectacular dive in good conditions. Huge granite boulders in groups with open patches between them. There are overhangs, small caverns, a few swim-throughs, and many deep gaps and crevices. Extensively covered in colourful reef life. Possibly the best shore dive on the Atlantic side of the Cape Peninsula on a good day.
    40 Coral Gardens
    41 Coral Gardens Offshore Pinnacle

Llandudno[edit]

The big swimthrough at 13th Apostle reef

These sites can be accessed from the shore or by boat. Parking is limited, but the area is reasonably secure. Some walking is required, but no serious climbing as the parking is near the sea level.

Local geography: The small residential suburb of Llandudno is built on the moderately steep slopes of the Cape Peninsula below the peak of Klein-Leeukop, where the coast road (M6 – Victoria Drive) from Camps Bay crosses over the neck to Hout Bay. There is only one way into Llandudno by road, which is from the M6 near the top of the pass. This is an area of granite corestone reefs with sand bottom.

The sites include:

  • 42 13th Apostle: S33°59.486' E18°19.922'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 10 to 24 m.
    A large granite pinnacle on an area of low granite reef with occasional sand patches.
  • 43 Llandudno Reef: S34°00.037' E18°19.897'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 10 to about 30 m, on sand
    An unsurveyed granite reef, with several pinnacles, outcrops and gullies.
  • 44 Logies Bay: S34°00.25’ E018°20.53’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth probably about 10 m.
    A small rocky cove to the north of Llandudno beach.
  • 45 MV Romelia: S34°00.732’ E018°19.811’ — (Inverted bow deck section)
    Wreck and reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 24 m.
    The tankers Romelia and Antipolis were under tow on 28 July 1977 during a north westerly gale when the tow cable to the Antipolis snagged on the sea bed. In the ensuing confusion the cables broke and the two ships were driven aground by the wind. The Romelia ran aground at Sunset Rocks, Llandudno, where its back was broken by the heavy surf and the ship split in two. Later the bow section sank, leaving the stern mostly above sea level on the rocks. Over the years the stern section has also broken up and is no longer visible above the water.

Oude Schip and Leeugat[edit]

Local geography: Oude Schip headland lies at the foot of the Karbonkelberg between Sandy Bay to the north and Leeugat to the south, It is a low rocky headland of Peninsula granite, with several reef dives and one known wreck. It is a fairly exposed section of coast but protected from the south easterly winds by the mountain. The sites are only accessible by boat as there is no road access to this part of the shore, and most are too far offshore to safely swim.

This is an area of granite bedrock of the Peninsula pluton, The reefs are exposed corestone outcrops and boulders, with sand patches in the deeper areas

The sites include:

  • 46 Steps: S34°01.330’ E018°18.600’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 20 m.
    An area of high granite reef with deep gullies. Not actually in Leeugat, but just north of Oude Schip headland.
  • 47 MV Harvest Capella: S34°01.600’ E018°18.750’
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 15 m.
    An area of mostly flattish granite reef with a few ridges and some wreckage of a steel motor fishing vessel, some of which has washed up onto the point and is visible from a distance. Not actually in Leeugat, but on the north shore of Oude Schip headland.
Map of the dive sites of the Blue Flash Reefs off Oude Schip headland on the Cape Peninsula

The Blue Flash Reefs

  • 48 Rachel's Reef: S34°01.431' E018°18.151'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth between about 3 and 21 m.
    Rachel's Reef is a compact granite pinnacle with surrounding high profile reef.
  • 49 Humpback Ridge: S34°01.548' E018°18.142'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth between about 4 and 21 m.
    A fairly massive granite pinnacle in the middle of a more extensive north-south ridge rising to about 12 m. Humpback whales have been seen near these reefs on several occasions.
  • 50 Wilhelm's Wall: S34°01.502’ E018°17.931’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth between about 12 and 31 m.
    A granite ridge somewhat more than 50 m long with sheer faces to the north and south, a flattish bottomed gully to the south, and another, more broken ridge south of the gully. Colourful sessile invertebrates on the sides and seaweeds on top.

The Middelmas reefs:

  • Hakka Reef (Middelmas): S34°01.747’ E018°18.328’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 21 m.
    51 Die Middelmas is a rock that projects several metres above the water at all tides, to the west of the Oude Schip peninsula.
    52 Hakka Reef Southeast pinnacles is off this rock.
    53 Hakka Reef Sven's Caves pinnacles is nearby at a set of pinnacles near a sand patch.
  • 54 Twin Towers: S34°01.920’ E018°18.330’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth about 20 m at the tops of the pinnacles to 34 m on the sand.
    A small but tall double-peaked granite pinnacle on a narrow base reef and surrounded by sand.

Leeugat (Maori Bay)[edit]

The Maori carried large steel pipes
Wreckage of the SAS Gelderland

Although several of the sites are quite close inshore, this area is in practice only accessible by boat, as the distance to the nearest parking is too far to carry dive gear (about 3 km as the crow flies, more on foot).

Local geography: Leeugat, also known to divers as Maori Bay, lies at the foot of the Karbonkelberg, between the northern headland of Oude Schip, and Duikerpunt to the south. It is a small bay, but fairly deep close inshore, which in combination with the partial barrier afforded by the reefs at the headlands, has provided the wrecks in Leeugat bay with better protection from wave action than those on more exposed parts of the coastline. This means that not only have they lasted well for their ages, but conditions are suitable for diving more often than for many other wrecks on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula.

This is an area of granite bedrock of the Peninsula pluton, The reefs are exposed corestone outcrops and boulders, with sand patches in the deeper areas

The sites include:

  • 55 MV Keryavor and the Jo May: S34°02.037’ E018°18.636’
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Not available, probably between 25 and 27 m.
    These two wrecks lie next to each other approximately between the Maori and the Gelderland. The Jo May sank first and not much of her wooden structure remains. The Ker Yar Vor was a steel lobster fishing vessel and several chunks of hull structure and twisted sections of plating remain.
  • 56 SS Maori: S34°02.062’ E018°18.793’ (Machinery)
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 6 to 21 m
    The SS Maori was a typical British steam cargo vessel of the early 1890s. The ship was wrecked in the bay between Oude Schip and Duikerpunt on 5 August 1909 in thick fog and drizzle while on a voyage from London to New Zealand.
  • 57 SAS Gelderland: S34°02.070’ E018°18.180’
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 30 to 35 m
    The Ford class Seaward Defense Boat SAS Gelderland was scuttled on 21s ecember 1988, north west of Duiker Point, as demolition trials.
    The vessel was about 40 m long but the main part of the wreckage is now only about 20 m long as the bow and stern sections were blown right off.
    58 Plan B pinnacle: S34°02.125’ E018°18.190’
    Plan B pinnacle is a compact granite outcrop just to the south of the southernmost wreckage of the Gelderland.
    59 Plan C pinnacle: S34°02.090’ E018°18.099’
    Plan C pinnacle is a compact granite outcrop west of the wreckage of the Gelderland.
  • 60 SS Oakburn and MV Bos 400: S34°02.216’ E018°18.573’
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Maximum 22 m
    The Oakburn, a British cargo steamer of 3865 tons, was wrecked on the north side of Duikerpunt in fog on 21 May 1906, on a voyage from New York to Sydney. The Oakburn has pretty much fallen apart, and on 27 June 1994, the French pipe-laying crane barge Bos 400, broke its towline and stranded virtually on top of the older wreck. The Bos has started to break up, and two large sections have collapsed into the sea, though the main crane section is still firmly stuck on top of the rocks.

Outer Hout Bay[edit]

Map of the dive sites near Duiker Point
Seals will often visit divers at the safety stop
Occasionally a Dusky dolphin may pass nearby

This area includes the dive sites between Duiker Point and Duiker Island and the extensive reefs to the south as far as Vulcan Rock and Tafelberg Reef. All of these are only accessible by boat. There are a number of sites being explored in this area: the reefs between Kanobi’s wall and Stonehenge, and a wreck of a lifeboat which was used to salvage materials from the Boss 400 and which lies between Stonehenge and Duiker Island are among these. There are several unexplored pinnacles in the region identified on the SAN charts as bakleiplaas, where the sea is often very lumpy due to the influence of the underwater topography on the swell.

Local geography: The suburb of Hout Bay lies in the valley between the Constantiaberg to the east and the peninsula formed by Karbonkelberg and its lesser peaks to the west. One of these peaks, the Sentinel, gives its name to a dive site at its foot. At the mouth of the valley is the business area of Hout Bay, with its small commercial fishing harbour and marina, and a public slipway used by dive charters and private dive boats for access to most of the southern peninsula dive sites on the Atlantic coast. The slipway is in good condition, wide and accessible, and has a large parking area, which on occasions can be crowded due to heavy use by commercial fishing skiboats.

The bedrock of this area is granite of the Peninsula pluton, and most of the sites are on corestone reefs of this rock.

The sites include:

Duiker Point sites:

  • 61 Die Perd: S34°02.282’ E18°18.324’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Not available, maximum probably about 20 m
    This rock off Duiker Point extends above the water and is surrounded by rugged reefs of high outcrops and deep gullies.
  • 62 Kanobi’s Wall: S34°02.365’ E018°18.138’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 25 m.
    This half-tide rock off Duiker Point is a good site with rugged topography, good biodiversity and large depth variation. Huge boulders are stacked, with tunnels, overhangs and caves of various sizes, and lots of vertical walls, some probably 10 m or more in height.
  • 63 SURG Pinnacles: S34°02.375' E018°18.015'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 9 to over 30 m.
    A group of steep granite corestone pinnacles, probably mostly huge boulders, with walls, overhangs and a swimthrough. Deep narrow cracks divide the pinnacles. Spectacular topography, covered with lots of sea urchins and vast numbers of hairy brittlestars, a moderate variety of sponges, noble corals, gorgonians, and patches of cauliflower soft coral. Red bait and Laminaria on the tops of the pinnacles. Surge can be strong when a long swell is running.
  • Star Wall: S34°02.466' E18°18.087' (pinnacle)
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 6 to 32 m.
    This site has the tallest and longest wall known in the Cape Town area and is a dive site well worth visiting. A massive and continuous granite wall of about 25m almost vertical height, extending for a length of 100 m on the south face and 50 m on the south-east face. Very diverse and colourful invertebrate cover on the wall face. The sites are:
    64 Star Wall
    65 M&M Cave
    66 Lollipop Pinnacle
  • 67 Sunfish Pinnacle: S34°02.475' E18°18.290' (pinnacle)
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 7 to 26 m.
    A fairly large pinnacle on a rocky bottom on the way to Duiker Point from Hout Bay harbour, which has been picked up quite frequently on the echo sounders of dive boats passing over it. It has now been dived, and to some extent mapped. The site is quite pretty and should make a pleasant alternative site. Topography is rugged, with high vertical walls on two sides of the pinnacle.

Stonehenge sites:

  • 68 Canyon: S34°02.595’ E018°18.073’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 35 m.
    The area is named for a gully between rows of pinnacles. Big boulders and rock outcrops cover an extensive area.
  • Stonehenge: S34°02.838’ E018°18.316’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 22 m.
    The area is named for a group of tall rocks which break the surface. Big boulders and rock outcrops cover an extensive area. High profile in the deeper areas, with swimthroughs, holes and overhangs. Heavy kelp in some areas.
    69 Dusky Pinnacles - Coral Pinnacle
    70 Stonehenge North
    71 A360 Pinnacle
    72 Stonehenge Central
    73 Stonehenge South
    74 Stonehenge Blinder
    75 Stonehenge Wreck

Seal Island sites:

  • 76 Seal Island (Duiker island): S34°03.458’ E018°19.562’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Shallow, mostly less than 6 m.
    The small rocky islet marked on maps and charts as Duikereiland has become known as Seal Island due to the resident colony of seals which has become a tourist attraction. It should not be confused with Seal Island in False Bay.

Vulcan Rock sites:

Diver at Di's Cracks. (photo Di Froude)
  • Di’s Cracks About 300 m northwest (328° magnetic) of Vulcan Rock
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 10 to 30 m.
    A spectacular dive if the visibility is good. Lots of walls and overhangs, swim-thoughs and deep, wide cracks. Rich invertebrate cover. Good site for dramatic wide angle scenic photography.
    77 Di's Cracks 9 m Pinnacle: S34°03.873’ E018°18.417’ – Big pointy topped boulder jammed into the top of a crack with a big swim-through underneath.
    78 Di’s Cracks 14 m pinnacle: S34°03.855’ E018°18.400’ – Big 14 m deep, flat topped boulder pinnacle on top of the main reef outcrop.
  • 79 Vulcan Rock: S34°03.945’ E018°18.545’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth is over 25 m near the rock.
    Vulcan rock is the highest point of a large granite reef and breaks the surface at most states of the tide. It is low and flat on top. A spectacular dive if the visibility is good.
    80 North Ridge Pinnacle: S34°03.912’ E018°18.545’. A long ridge north of Vulcan Rock running northwest to southeast, with a cluster of pinnacles a short distance to the northeast.
    81 West Ridge Pinnacle: S34°03.962’ E018°18.447’. A compact row of huge boulders to the west of the Vulcan Rock

Tafelberg Reef sites:

  • 82 Tafelberg Reef: S34°04.22’ E018°18.93’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 8 to 30 m.
    Extensive area of rugged granite outcrops with high relief and sand bottom at about 29 m to the west. Deep crevices and gullies. Not much overhang, but a lot of vertical faces. Very rugged and spectacular topography in good visibility.
  • 83 Klein Tafelberg Reef (Salad bowl, Yacht wreck): S34°04.442’ E018°19.191’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 14 to 36 m.
    Huge granite outcrop with big boulders. Sand bottom in deeper areas. Rugged and spectacular topography. The wreckage of a GRP yacht lies in an indentation on the side of the pinnacle. It is possible to do a 40 to 45 m dive starting on the sand to the east of the reef, and swim up the reef on a north-westerly heading, but it is likely that decompression will be required if you get all the way to the shallow pinnacle.
  • Tafelberg Deep:
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 40 m on the sand.
    Low to medium profile granite outcrops, sloping up towards the Tafelberg Deep Pinnacle south of the pinnacle at Klein Tafelberg Reef. It is possible to do a 50 m dive and swim up the reef, but some decompression will be required.
    84 Tafelberg Deep Pinnacle: S34°04.6476’ E018°18.9710’, 18 m deep
    85 Wilhelm's Mark: S34°04.7360’ E018°19.0322’, 50 m deep
    86 Mac's Mark: S34º04.6810’ E018º19.1633’, 50 m deep
    87 Brittlestar Pinnacle: S34º04.6578' E018º18.9312', 26 m deep
    88 Coral crag: S34º04.6872' E018º18.9658', 36 m deep

Hout Bay[edit]

Wreck of the MV Aster on a good day
Map of the wrecks of the MV Aster and MV Katsu Maru

This area includes the sites between the Sentinel and Chapmans Peak. Most of these are boat dives. The one exception, Sentinel, can be accessed by land without great difficulty, but has a security problem.

The Sentinel is a typical area of granite coastline, with large numbers of boulders along the shore and corestone reefs with the usual rounded profiles.The wrecks of the Aster and Katsu Maru are on a flat sand bottom, and the site at Die Josie is on relatively unweathered granite at the base of the cliffs of Lower Chapman’s Peak

The sites include:

  • 89 Sentinel:
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Depth: Mostly less than 10 m.
    This is the place on the Atlantic coast where the 30 m depth contour is closest to the shore.
    The Sentinel is considered by some to be the area below the vertical cliffs, and is an area of flat reef with lots of kelp and box jellyfish, and some big boulders.
    The Pinnacles are a group of rocks near the shore just out of Hout Bay harbour, near the sewage works.
  • 90 MV Aster: S34°03.891’ E018°20.955’
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 28 m.
    The 340 ton, 27 m long Motor Fishing Vessel "Aster" was a South African registered lobster fishing vessel which was prepared as a diver-friendly artificial reef by cleaning and cutting openings into the structure and was scuttled in Hout Bay near the wreck of the "MV Katzu Maru" on 9 August 1997. It it has been used as a training site for wreck penetration. The vessel is upright on the bottom and is beginning to break up.
  • 91 MV Katsu Maru: S34°03.910’ E018°20.942’ (middle of the wreck)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 30 m.
    The Japanese trawler "Katsu Maru #25" struck an unidentified object at sea and was holed on the port side. While under tow to Hout Bay the vessel flooded and it sank in the bay on 7 August 1978. The wreck lies on its starboard side on the sand bottom.
  • 92 Die Josie: S34° 04.497’ E018° 21.256’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 7 to 17 m.
    A shallow reef below Chapman's Peak, which is close to Hout Bay harbour and is suitable for night dives. One of the few areas where the granite is not rounded by weathering, as can be seen from the cliffs above the site.

Atlantic South Peninsula[edit]

Location of the dive sites from Kommetjie to Olifantsbospunt

This area includes all of the peninsula coast south of Noordhoek. It is not often dived for recreational purposes as it is a long way from good launch sites and not many good dive sites are known. There are several wrecks in this area, particularly at Albatross Rocks/Olifantsbospunt. Only a few of the wrecks have been positively identified.

The sites include

  • 93 SS Clan Monroe: S34°08.817' E18°18.949'
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 4 to 8 m.
    Wrecked a little north of the Slangkop lighthouse at Kommetjie. Very seldom dived. Shallow flat sandstone reef, with wreckage encrusted with coralline algae.
  • SS Thomas T. Tucker:
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Shallow
    This ship was wrecked high on the rocks, and parts of the wreckage are visible on shore. Most of the wreckage is in fairly shallow water.
  • 94 Star of Africa:
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: about 27 m maximum.
  • 95 SS Bia: Bow section: S34°16.140' E018°22.812' Main section: S34°16.217' E018°22.638'
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 3 to 8 m.
  • 96 SS Umhlali: S34°16.435' E18°22.487'
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 5 to 8 m.
  • 97 Albatross Rock: S34°16.495' E18°22.197'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Probably less than 15 m near the rock.
  • South-west Reefs:
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: Uncertain.
    A massive area of shallow reef and kelp beds to the west of the tip of the peninsula. It is the haunt of spearfisherman and crayfish catchers and is unexplored on scuba.

Nearby[edit]

Back to the Alphabetical list of sites

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

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