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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 east coast

This listing of dive sites of the Cape Peninsula east 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.

False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula[edit]

Dive sites from Kalk Bay to Rocklands Point
Dive sites of the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula

Introduction and some tips on diving the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula (Simon’s Town side)

Unlike the rest of the region, the west side of False Bay is sheltered from the winter westerlies, but in return it takes the South-Easter head on. As a result of this the region is usually dived in winter, when the South-Easter seldom blows for long or with great force.

The winter frontal storms over the Southern Ocean produce swells which are slowed by the continental shelf and refracted and diffused round the Cape Peninsula, so that they propagate mostly parallel to the coastline, and have lost much of their energy by the time they curve in towards the shore. The irregular form of the coast here also protects some areas more than others. Generally speaking, those parts of the coast which run in a more north west to south east direction are better protected from the south west swell than the north to south parts, so the choice of dive site is dependent on the recent weather patterns.

During the summer months when the South-Easter blows more frequently, for longer, and generally harder, this area is not as often diveable, and the visibility is generally poorer than in winter even when conditions are otherwise suitable.

The water temperature during the winter months in this area is generally warmer than the Atlantic coast in summer, which is some compensation for the shorter daylight hours and often cold and rainy weather.

Water temperature may vary with depth. There is usually a thermocline in summer, and the visibility may change significantly below the thermocline. The surface can be 18 or 19°C with 10 or 11°C at the bottom, but the difference is more likely to be 5°C or less. Conditions at depth are not easily predictable, and may be better or worse than near the surface. There can be a plankton bloom in the surface layers and a sudden improvement in visibility from 3 m or less to over 10 m in the cold bottom water. The depth of the thermocline is also not very predictable, but has been known to be between 12 and 20 m in late summer.

In winter the water may be the same temperature from top to bottom, and as there is less sunlight to power the phytoplankton blooms, the visibility and natural illumination can be better even though there is less light at the surface.

Between the cold and rainy fronts there are frequently days of little or no wind, and mild to warm sunshine, when the water is flat and clear and the diving is wonderful, and the large number of sites make it difficult to decide where to go as there is so much choice. It’s a tough life here at the end of Africa, but somebody has to do it.

Water temperature during winter is usually between 13°C and 17°C, though it has been known to drop as low as 11°C, so a good suit is also needed here. In summer the temperature may rise above 20°C, but is more likely to be around 17°C to 19°C.

Most of the shore dives are relatively shallow, in the order of 8 m to 15 m maximum depth, though it is possible to do a 30 m shore dive if you don’t mind a 700 m swim to get there. The shallow waters make a dry suit less advantageous, but getting out of a wet suit in the wind and rain at night push the dry suit up again as a desirable option. It is nice to have the choice, and many local divers switch between wet and dry suits depending on the dive planned.

Surface currents are driven by the wind. The general tendency is for the current direction to be offset to the left of wind direction due to Coriolis effects, but this is modified by the direction of the local coastline, which induces a flow more parallel to the shoreline slope, but there is often an upwelling of bottom water associated with an offshore flow component. This is less marked than the upwelling driven by the south easterly wind on the west coast of the peninsula.

Muizenberg to Kalk Bay[edit]

Commercial diver training at Kalk Bay harbour wall

These sites are the northernmost sites of the west side of False Bay. They are shallow and exposed to the south easterly winds and waves, so are generally considered winter dives.

Local geography: There is a narrow strip of land between the mountainside and the sea which is occupied by the suburbs of St James and Kalk Bay, and at the southern end of this there is a small hill called Trappieskop. At this point the coastline curves out into False Bay before turning back to form Fish Hoek Bay. The small commercial fishing harbour at Kalk Bay is built in this cove.

This is an area where the shoreline is sandstone of the Table Mountain series, and the dip is nearly horizontal at about 7° to the south. The resulting shoreline is generally rocky, with some sandy areas, and is surprisingly shallow considering the steepness of the mountainside. Sand bottom starts at about 5 m depth at Dale Brook and nearer 9 m at the harbour.

The sites include:

  • 1 Muizenberg trawler wrecks
    Wreck dive, boat access. Maximum depth about 18 m.
    Two steel trawlers that were scuttled for bombing practice in the 1970s or thereabout. They are fairly wasted, but the hull structures are moderately intact and heavily overgrown by invertebrates.
  • 2 Dale Brook: S34°07.436’ E018°27.154’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 6 m.
    This site is well known in the scientific literature for a large diversity of marine life, and it has been a sanctuary zone for a long time, but is seldom dived by recreational scuba divers. It is ideal as a snorkelling site due to the shallow depth and large variety of reef life, and is a very pleasant scuba dive in calm conditions. It is the nearest site for road access from most of the city on the east side of the peninsula.
  • 3 Kalk Bay Harbour Wall: S34:07.787’ E018:26.967'
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 10 m.
    Concrete harbour wall with sand and low rock reef at base. Bottom relief not very high. Low reef of sandstone, patches of pebble and sand at about 8 to 9 m.

Fish Hoek and Glencairn[edit]

These relatively shallow sites are exposed to south easterly wind and swell and are generally considered winter dives. All can be done as shore dives, though Fish Hoek Reef and Quarry Barge are usually done as boat dives as there is a long swim from shore. Great White sharks have been seen cruising in this area.

Local geography: The low lying and relatively flat valley of Fish Hoek is bounded on the south side by the steep slopes of Brakkloofrant and Else Peak, which also slopes steeply to the sea on the east.

Fish Hoek Reef is some distance off the beach, and the other dive sites of this area are along this short stretch of rocky coastline. The main road to Simon’s Town, the M4, and the railway line share the narrow coastal strip. There is space for a few houses at Sunny Cove, and just past Quarry the Else river has cut a smaller valley with Glencairn beach. The quarry referred to is a disused sandstone quarry on the mountainside above the road just to the north of the dive site of that name.

This is an area where faulting has caused the Table Mountain Sandstones to extend below sea level, The strike is generally east-west and the dip is shallow, from about 7° (south) at Sunny cove to about 10° (south) at Quarry. Jointing, however, is approximately north west/south east.

The sites include:

  • 4 Fish Hoek Reef: S34°08.292’ E018°26.676’
    Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth about 15 m.
  • 5 Sunny Cove: S34°08.68’ E018°26.30’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 11 m.
    Named after the railway station at the site. Moderate relief sandstone rocks, ridges and gullies shelving down to sand at about 10 m.
  • 6 Quarry: S34°09.390’ E018°26.157’ (Entry/exit ledge)
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 10 m.
    Named after the old sandstone quarry in the hillside above the road slightly to the north. Sloping ramp-like ridges of Table Mountain sandstone, approximately perpendicular to the shoreline, with occasional sandy pockets. Profile not very high.
  • 7 Quarry Barge: S34°09.395’ E018°26.474’ (approximate)
    Wreck and Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Depth 12 to 14 m.
    Small wreck of a steel barge. The hull is fairly intact and lies upright on a sandy patch between the reefs. Two holds are open to access from above and the overhead around the sides is trivial.
  • 8 Glencairn Fan Garden: S34°09.418' E018°26.412' (approximate)
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth 12 to 14 m.
    Fairly extensive area of low to medium profile sandstone reef with sandy patches, and large numbers of gorgonian sea fans, mostly the Palmate sea fan, but also a moderate number of Sinuous sea fans and a few Whip fans.
  • 9 P87 wreck: S34°09.570’ E018°26.420’
    Wreck dive, boat access. Depth: About 15 m.
    Wreckage of a small wooden naval patrol boat. Its position is indicated on SAN1017 as ¼ nm south-south-west of the Quarry Barge in 15 m.

Simon's Town[edit]

The dive site at Long Beach
Long beach has easy shore access and is very sheltered, and is popular for training and night dives

The small bay on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula known as Simon’s Bay is the most sheltered part of the False Bay coastline from the south westerly swells, and is also better protected from south easterly swells than any other place on this part of the coast.

As the main anchorage of the Cape at Table Bay is badly exposed to the north westerly storms of winter, and Hout Bay is open to the south westerly swells, Simon’s Bay was the only reasonably safe alternative anchorage within a reasonable distance from Cape Town, and for these reasons was chosen by the first Dutch Governor at the Cape, Simon van der Stel, as the winter anchorage for the Dutch East India Company at the Cape.

The town that developed at this anchorage became known as Simon’s Town, and the anchorage developed into the headquarters and dockyard for the Southern hemisphere of the Royal Navy and later for the South African Navy, which it remains to this day.

The overland access to the town is relatively poor, comprising the winding and narrow main road along the False Bay coast, with the parallel Boyes Drive and railway line, the even more winding Chapman’s Peak drive on the Atlantic coast, and the Old Cape Road (Ou Kaapseweg), a fairly steep and winding pass over the mountains in the middle of the peninsula. All are scenic routes, but none are really suited to high volume traffic, and can be annoyingly congested during rush hour. All converge on the False Bay coastal road just before reaching Simon’s Town.

The dive sites are fairly sheltered from south east wind and swell, more so further south at Long Beach, and are diveable most of the winter and some of the time in summer.

Local geography: The town is at the base of the coastal mountains, which are quite steep and have very little reasonably flat ground at the foot of the slopes, however the bay is shallow and mostly sandy bottomed, with a long sandy beach on the western side. To the east of the Naval dockyard the coastline becomes rocky again, with exposed granite corestones at Seaforth.

This area has a sandstone coastline, probably Graafwater series, but not much reef is exposed at the dive sites which are mostly on sand bottom.

The sites include:

  • 10 SS Clan Stuart: S34°10.303’ E018°25.842’
    Wreck dive. Shore access. Maximum depth 9 m.
    The “Clan Stuart”, a 3500 ton British turret steamer, ran aground after dragging its anchor in a south east gale on 21 November 1914. The ship’s engine block still breaks the surface.
  • 11 Brunswick: S34°10.880’ E018°25.607’
    Wreck dive. Shore or boat access. Depth: 4 to 6 m.
    English East Indiaman of 1,200 tons, captured by the French Admiral Linois in the Indian Ocean and brought to Simon's Town. Ran aground at Simon's Town on 19 September 1805 after losing three anchors during a south east gale. Not much is left of the wreckage.
  • 12 HNMS Bato: S34°10.998’ E018°25.560’
    Wreck dive. Shore access. Depth: 3 to 4 m
    Dutch warship of 800 tons and 74 guns. The ship had been used as a floating battery in Simon’s Bay for several years. Set on fire and sunk off Long Beach, Simon's Town, on 8 January 1806, the same day that the Battle of Blaauwberg began. Not much of the wreck remains.
  • 13 Long Beach: S34°11.239' E18°25.559'
    Wreck dive. Underwater navigation route. Shore access. Maximum depth about 9 m.
    Named for the long stretch of sandy beach. At first glance bland, but careful investigation will reveal interesting and varied life. This is the place to go when conditions are bad elsewhere. Very popular training site, and great for getting new equipment configurations sorted out.
    There are a few small wrecks which may be visited on a compass navigation route.
  • 14 Simon's Town Jetty
    Artificial reef dive. Shore access. Depth about 2 m.
    Small jetty on concrete pilings. Very easy access and very sheltered.
  • 15 False Bay Yacht Club moorings
    Artificial reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 8 m.
    Yacht club marina with a little reef and some wreckage. Extends as far as the Simon's Town harbour wall where some of the wrecks are still floating.

Roman Rock area reefs[edit]

Roman Rambler and Castor rocks map.png

The offshore dives in the vicinity of Roman Rock are relatively exposed to the south east swells, but are deeper, so the effect is less severe once you are at depth. Strong south east wind and chop can make the boat trip uncomfortable, so these sites are not often dived in summer, when the visibility is frequently poor.

Local geography: The sea bed is mostly very gradually sloping sand in this area, with massive granite outcrops, which are the dive sites. The sand tends to be fairly fine away from the reefs, with coarser shelly sand near the base of the rocks.

The offshore sites at Roman Rock, Rambler Rock and Castor Rock are huge granite corestones of the Peninsula pluton.

The sites include:

  • 16 Target Reef S34°10.619’ E018°27.226’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 6 to 22 m
    Small granite and rubble reef with disused concrete naval gunnery target base.
  • 17 Livingstone Reef: S34°10.605' E018°27.571'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 14 to 23 m
    Granite corestone reef of moderate size with good relief and diverse invertebrates.
  • Castor Rock reefs: S34°10.74’ E018°27.61’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 4 to 20 m
    Extensive reef of granite. Basically a very large outcrop with occasional high areas, small gullies, boulders, small crevices and overhangs. The reef top is of moderate relief, with relatively shallow sandy gullies, small overhangs and boulders, and has some steep areas at the edges.
    18 Castor Rock - Northern Pinnacle is across a narrow sand bottomed gap to the north of the main reef.
    19 Castor Rock - Central Pinnacle is on the main reef.
    20 Wonders Pinnacle is on the west side of the south lobe of Castor Rock.
    21 Roman's Rest is at the east end of the south lobe of Castor Reef
  • Roman Rock reefs: S34°10.87’ E018°27.60’
    Reef dives. Boat access only. Maximum depth 21 m.
    This area comprises a cluster of granite outcrops separated by sand bottom, on the largest of which the lighthouse stands.
    22 Roman Rock North: A fairly large but relatively low expanse of reef roughly northwest of the lighthouse, of no known special interest. Shallowest point at about 11 m, and about 18 m on the sand to the north-west.
    23 Roman Rock: An easy dive site to find as it is marked by the lighthouse of the same name off Simon’s Town Harbour. A large granite reef with a depth range from 20 m at the east end to the surface around the lighthouse rocks.
    24 Spider Crab Reefs: Two small parallel reefs to the west of Roman Rock, rising from sand at about 21 m to 16 m at the shallowest point. They are separated by a narrow sand gap and can be seen from each other in reasonable visibility.
    25 Roman Rock South: A small section of reef parallel to the main reef about 100 m southwest of the lighthouse rising from sand at about 21 m to probably about 18 m on top.
  • 26 Tivoli Pinnacles. S34°10.892’ E018°27.765’: About 250 m bearing 301° magnetic to Roman Rock Lighthouse.
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 10 to 22 m.
    A compact, high profile reef a short distance to the east of Roman Rock.
  • Friskies Pinnacles
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 12 to 22 m
    Two small reefs with high pinnacles a short distance to the east of the Castor Rock reefs.
    27 Friskies Pinnacle: S34°10.778’ E018°27.822’, the larger and shallower, to the south, and
    28 North Friskies Pinnacle the smaller and deeper, to the north.
  • Rambler Rock reefs
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 10 to 22 m.
    A high granite reef east of the Roman Rock lighthouse off Simon’s Town Harbour. There are four major groups of rocks at this site.
    29 Rambler Rock North-west pinnacle: S34°10.924’ E018°27.899’
    30 Rambler Rock North-east reefs: S34°10.916' E018°27.996'
    31 Rambler Rock Southern pinnacles: S34°11.011’ E018°27.918’
    32 Hotlips Pinnacle: S34°11.145' E018°28.091' (Hotlips Pinnacle)
  • 33 Dome Rock: S34°11.119' E018°27.776' (Dome Rock pinnacle)
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 16 to 25 m.
    A compact granite reef south of the Roman Rock lighthouse, and west of the southern part of the Rambler Rock reefs.
  • Random Rocks Reefs
    Reef dive. Boat access only. A small group of reefs south of Rambler Rocks.
    34 Rudy's Random Rocks: S34°11.329' E018°28.037' (Pinnacle at south end) Depth 21 to 26 m. A compact granite reef.
    35 Reef With No Name (little pinnacles): S34°11.365' E018°28.055' (Pinnacle) A partially surveyed reef of unknown extent, probably quite small.

Seaforth to Froggy Pond[edit]

Map showing the dive sites of the Seaforth area
The dive sites around Noah's Ark Rock
Some more dive sites at Seaforth

These sites are to the east and south of the Naval dockyard at Simon's Town. They are moderately shallow and exposed to the south east wind and swells, so are generally considered winter dives.

Local geography: These sites are all areas of granite corestone reef, though there may be occasional sandstone boulders.

The Seaforth sites include:

  • 36 Ammunition Barges: S34°11.408’ E018°26.985’
    Wreck dive. Boat or shore access. Depth: 8 to 10 m.
    Two small steel barges to the west of Phoenix shoal. They are heavily overgrown and quite broken up.
  • 37 Phoenix shoal: S34°11.388' E018°26.898'
    Reef and wreck dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth 10 m.
    The Phoenix was a British ship of 500 tons, built in 1810. It was wrecked a little to seaward of Phoenix Shoal in Simon's Bay on 19 July 1829. Some of the iron ballast can be seen on the reef, and the stem lies buried in sand.
  • Noah’s Ark and the Ark Rock Wrecks: S34°11.533’ E018°27.232’
    Wreck and reef dive. Boat or shore access. Maximum depth 14 m.
    Named for the large rock of the same name on the SAN charts. There is a wreck of a barge just south of the rock, the wreck of a small steam-powered vessel to the west and a larger iron or steel vessel, probably the Parana, wrecked in 1862, to the north west. Wreckage in the form of isolated boilers of an unknown steamboat or steamboats can be found south and east of the barge wreck. There are also arrays of concrete pillars remaining from a disused naval degaussing range to the south, and another small steel wreck to the east of the rock.
    38 Noah’s Ark Rock
    39 Ark Rock Barge wreck
    40 Ark Rock Boiler wreck #1
    41 Ark Rock Boiler wreck #2
    Ark Rock Boiler wreck #3a
    42 Ark Rock Boiler wreck#3b
    43 Parana wreck, main section
    44 Parana wreck, small section
    45 Noah’s Ark - Double row of concrete pillars
    46 Noah’s Ark - Single row of concrete pillars
    47 Noah’s Ark - Eastern wreck
    48 Noah’s Ark - Heat exchanger
    49 Noah’s Ark - Twin barges
  • 50 Penguin Point (Boulders): S34°11.889’ E018°27.254’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth 8 m.
    Named for the penguin sanctuary. This is the point and inshore reef at the south east end of Boulders Beach at Seaforth.
  • Maidstone Rock reefs: S34°11.581' E018°27.466'
    Reef dive. Boat access Depth: 8 to 27 m.
    Named for the reef shown on the SA Navy charts. The sites are Maidstone Rock, Anchor Reef and Ammo Reef
    51 Maidstone Rock
    52 Anchor Reef
    53 Ammo Reef
  • 54 Photographer’s Reef (JJM Reef): S34°11.839’ E18°27.434’
    Reef dive. Boat or shore access. Depth 3 to 14 m.
    This reef is marked as Photographer’s reef on the SAN charts. It is also known to divers who dived it in the 1980s as JJM Reef. The lower reef to the south is JJM junior. There are several other isolated reefs in the area, mostly small, fairly low and not named.
  • 55 Torch Reef: S34° 11.700’ E018°27.960’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 20 to 30 m.
    This is a small reef east of Photographer’s reef. On one of the first recorded dives at this site a diver lost his torch, and the name stuck.
  • 56 Outer Photographer's Reef: S34°11.778' E018°27.898'
    Reef dive. Boat access only Depth range 20 to 30 m.
    An large isolated granite outcrop east of Photographer's Reef about 140 m south west from Torch reef. Flat topped and sheer walled.
Map of the offshore reefs off Windmill Beach, Simon's Town, South Africa

The Windmill Beach and Froggy Pond sites include:

  • 61 Windmill Beach: S34°12.06’ E018°27.40’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 8 m.
    Shore dive with very sheltered beach entry and exit areas. Sand bottom with large granite outcrops and boulders, some with very high relief, extending from flat sand to near or above the surface. Slowly shelving beaches. Popular training site.
  • 62 Froggy pond: S34°12.22’ E018°27.40’
    Reef dive. Shore access Depth: Shallower than 10 m.
    This little bay is actually called Froggy Pond on the official maps and charts of the area. In spite of its name this is a sea dive, and there will be no frogs. Sandy beach with boulders in the shallows. Quite steeply shelving at the shoreline. Rocky reefs to both sides.
  • 63 Fisherman's Beach: S34°12.357’ E018°27.497’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: Shallower than 10 m.
    The next cove south of Froggy Pond. It has a much longer beach.

Oatlands Point[edit]

The dive sites at Oatlands Point

Oatlands Point is the first point south of the Froggy Pond area. There is a small group of houses on the seaward side of the main road, and more houses up the mountainside. It is easily recognised by the large flattish topped granite boulder just offshore.

Local geography: Oatlands Point is at the foot of Swartkop peak, at 678 m, the highest point of the southern peninsula. The mountainside is fairly steep, and the houses are in a fairly narrow band along the coast. This is the part of False Bay where the 30 m isobath is at its closest point to the shore and where access is good for a shore dive.

These sites are all areas of granite corestone reef, though there may be occasional sandstone boulders. The smaller boulders along the shore are often sandstone which have moved down the mountainside over the years and have been rounded in the surf.

The sites include:

  • 64 A-Frame (Oatlands Point): S34°12.484’ E018°27.662’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Maximum depth about 10 m
    Named for a tripod beacon which has now been replaced by a simple post. The beacon is one of the boundary markers for a marine sanctuary. The site is also marked by a huge granite outcrop which extends several metres above the water. To the north is sand bottom with low reef and big boulders, some breaking the surface, and a couple of swimthroughs. Ridges of medium height extend beyond the big rock with a pinnacle at the seaward end. To the south there are more outcrops, and an extensive area of scattered small boulders and outcrops with sand bottom between, getting rockier towards the shore.
  • 65 D-Frame (Oatlands Reef, Wave Rock): S34°12.378’ E018°27.996’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: 15 to 30 m.
    This is the point on the west side of False Bay where the 30 m contour is closest to the shore. Divers wishing to do a 30 m shore dive can do it here.
    The reef comprises several large outcrops of granite with sand bottom between. There is one point that rises to about 4 m from the surface with an almost vertical drop to 14 m on both sides. Most parts are not nearly this high. The south reef has an overhanging rock outcrop known as the “Wave Rock”.

Rocklands Point[edit]

Map of the dive sites around Rocklands Point

South of Oatlands Point, the shore gets steeper, and there are not many houses. The road winds along the shoreline, gaining altitude slightly towards Miller’s Point. Rocklands Point is recognisable from the road by Spaniard Rock. a moderately large sized granite rock about 100 m offshore, and the largest visible rock in the area.

The shore is rather steep at Rocklands Point, and there are no houses in the immediate vicinity. There is an extensive area of shallow rocky reef inshore of Rocklands blinder and Spaniard Rock. South of Spaniard Rock, and extending to a blinder to the south known as Stern Reef, is an area of scattered granite reef, mostly low, but with a few fairly high outcrops. This area is complex and has not yet been mapped.

Like the sites to the north and south, this is an area of granite corestones on a sand bottom, though sandstone boulders are frequently found at the water’s edge.

The sites include:

  • 66 Insanity Reef: S34°12.817’ E018°28.044’
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 2 to 14 m.
    Large granite corestone outcrops and boulders on a fairly level sand bottom. The reef is fairly small and broken up, but compact, and all the rocks are close together. There is a huge boulder at the north end which is supported on outcrops to form a small sand bottomed swimthrough with about 4 entrances.
  • 67 Rocklands Blinder (Seal Colony): S34°12.9’ E018°28.0’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Depth: 3 to 13 m.
    The main reef is large outcrops of granite rising from about 13 m on the sand to the north east, to about 3 to 4 m depth on top. The inshore side slopes down more gradually to lots of small boulders and low outcrops. The smaller second reef is high and on a sand bottom.
  • 68 Spaniard Rock: S34°13.03’ E018°28.03’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth 13 m.
    Spaniard rock is a high pinnacle on a sand bottom which extends a couple of metres above the water. Contiguous low reef lies to the north. To the west is another pinnacle comprising a group of big corestone outcrops and boulders, one of which breaks surface occasionally.
  • 69 Alpha Reef (Outer Spaniard): S34°12.987’ E018°28.184’
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth 2 to 15 m.
    The site was previously known as Outer Spaniard, but Alpha reef now seems to be more common usage. The reef is an outcrop of granite corestones in two main sections divided by an east-west gulley.
  • 70 Omega Reef: S34.21426 E018.47412
    Reef dive, Boat access. Depth 15 to 25 m.
    A granite corestone reef about 220 m long from NW to SE, and about 80 m wide. Not often dived.
  • 71 Stern Reef: S34°13.164’ E018°28.032’
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 14 m.
    An extensive area of high to low relief granite corestone outcrops on a sand bottom, marked by a rock which breaks the surface at some states of the tide.

Miller's Point[edit]

Dive sites from Miller's Point to Buffels Bay
Map showing the dive sites at Caravan Reef

Local geography: This part of the peninsula coastline is a steep mountainside below the Swartkopberge. The mountainside is quite steep close to the shore, but on reaching the sea, the slope flattens out dramatically. The small rocky peninsula of Miller’s Point juts out rather abruptly into the bay and provides a sheltered site for the slipway from which most of the boat launches in this area are made. There is sufficient reasonably level ground for extensive parking areas off the main road, including boat trailer parking.

This area is characterised by large areas of granite corestone reef interspersed with sandy patches, and relatively flat sand bottom further out. There are also sandstone boulders along the shoreline. Many of the reefs are fairly large areas of massive outcrops with ridges, gullies and boulders on top, some of which are very large.

The sites include:

  • 1 SAS Pietermaritzburg: S34°13.303’ E018°28.465’
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 22 m.
    This 1330 tonne minesweeper was launched in 1943 as HMS Pelorus, and was sold in 1947 to the South African Navy and renamed HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. It was scuttled by explosive charges on 12 November 1994 to form an artificial reef. The wreck lies upright on the sand and is slowly collapsing.
  • Caravan Reef
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 3 to 22 m
    This site is offshore of the caravan park at Miller’s Point, which may be the origin of its name. Extensive granite reefs on sand bottom. The reef may extend continuously to Miller's Point.
    2 PMB Pinnacles
    3 North Caravan Reef
    4 Caravan Central east pinnacle
    5 Caravan Central north pinnacle
    6 South Caravan Reef
    7 Inner Caravan Reef
  • Miller's Point
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: Shoreline and shallow inshore.
    Fairly shallow rocky reef of granite outcrops and boulders, some smallish swimthroughs and quite a few overhangs and holes under boulders.
    8 Miller's Point slipway
    9 Miller's Point tidal pool
    10 Rumbly Bay
  • 11 Murphy's: S34°13.958' E018°28.988'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 14 to about 20 m.
    Small pinnacle with medium profile adjacent reef of boulders and outcrops over a fairly large area.
  • 12 Boat Rock (Bakoven Rock): S34°14.05’ E18°29.05’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 22 m.
    Granite outcrops with big boulders and coarse shelly sand bottom at about 14 m The rock that gives the site its name extends a few metres above sea level. High relief and a lot of small holes under rocks, mostly too small to swim through. Fairly extensive adjacent reef, some of it high profile.

Castle Rocks[edit]

Map showing the dive sites around Castle Rocks

This has been a marine sanctuary area for many years and as a result is one of the best sites for fish. There are several excellent dive sites accessible from a very limited amount of roadside parking, or by a short boat ride from Miller's Point.

Local geography: This part of the peninsula coastline is a steep mountainside below the Swartkopberge. There is very little ground along this strip which is not steep, but on reaching the sea, the slope flattens out and the small rocky peninsula of Castle Rocks juts out into the bay. There is sufficient reasonably sloped ground for a few houses above and below the main road.

This area is characterised by granite corestone reefs with sandy patches between them, and almost flat sand bottom further out. There will occasionally be the odd sandstone boulder which has made its way a short distance offshore with the assistance of wave action and gravity, and a lot of the smaller shoreline boulders are sandstone. Many of the reefs are fairly large areas of massive ridges and gullies with occasional loose boulders on top, and some of these boulders are huge.

The sites include:

  • 13 Fan Reef: S34°14.165' E18°29.260'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 25 to 30 m.
    A low granite outcrop at about 30 m maximum depth, with a large number of sea fans.
  • Pyramid Rock reef and Shark Alley
    Reef dive. Shore or boat access. Maximum depth about 12 m.
    Named for the pointed rock that marks the site. It projects above the water at all tides and is easily identified. Large granite boulders and outcrops with sand around them in deep areas and at the bottom of some gullies. Several small tunnels, caves and overhangs. Lots of fish.
    14 Shark Alley: S34°14.21' E018°28.60' Estimated, Named for the Cowsharks often seen at the site. Big granite boulders and outcrops with sand patches. Shark Alley is between the kelp forests on near-shore reef and the reef surrounding Pyramid rock.
    15 Pyramid Reef East Pinnacle: S34°14.220' E018°28.808'
    16 Pyramid Rock: S34°14.225' E018°28.698' — High profile area marked by an exposed rock.
    17 Castle Pinnacles: S34°14.356' E018°28.826' — A group of fairly tall pinnacles along the edge of the sand to the south. One of them has a large swimthrough under it.
    Sansui Reef An area of picturesque small ridges and boulders on a rippled white sand bottom near the Castle Pinnacles.
  • 18 Phone Reef: S34°14.225' E018°29.202'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 15 to about 24 m.
    A small patch of granite reef east of Outer Castle and north of Giant's Castle. There is a compact group of tall outcrops to the east of the reef, with the top of the pinnacle at about 15 m depth, The reef is surrounded by sand bottom. There is some unsurveyed reef to the south.
  • 19 Super Fan Reef: S34°14.265' E018°29.170'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth about 18 to 25 m.
    A small patch of granite reef between Outer Castle, Giant's Castle, and Phone Reef. The reef is about 25 m long east to west and about 15 m north to south as shown on the Council for Geoscience bottom facies sonar interpretation, with the top of the ridge at about 5 to 7 m above the sand, The reef is surrounded by sand bottom.
  • Castle Rocks and Parson’s Nose:
    Reef dive. Shore access, boat access possible. Maximum depth about 18 m.
    Castle Rocks applies to the point as a whole and the offshore rocks to the south east. The point is a small rocky peninsula that can be an island at high tide.
    The small headland just to the south of Castle Rocks is known as Parson’s Nose. Castle Pinnacles is actually part of the Pyramid Rock reef, though if dived from the shore, the Castle Rocks north entry is likely to be used.
    20 Castle Rocks North SideS34°14.322' E018°28.65'
    21 Castle Rocks Point Reefs (Outside Castle) S34°14.4' E018°28.8'
    22 Inner Castle (South Castle) S34°14.46' E018°28.674'
  • 23 Giant's Castle: S34°14.362' E018°29.225'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 17 to about 30 m.
    A small patch of granite reef east of Outer Castle. The main feature is a compact group of tall outcrops with the top of the pinnacle at about 17 m depth, Below 24 m and the reef extends mainly to the east, and it is surrounded by sand bottom. There is a small low outlier to the north and Zigzag Reef reef is a short distance to the east.
  • 24 Zigzag Reef: S34°14.362' E018°29.275'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 20 to about 33 m.
    A small patch of granite reef east of Giant's Castle. The main feature is a tall and massive but compact outcrop with the top of the pinnacle at about 20 m depth, Below 24 m the low reef extends mainly to the north-east, and it is surrounded by sand bottom.
  • Pie Rock and Outer Castle reefs:
    Reef dive. Boat access. Depth: 5 to 25 m.
    Large granite corestone outcrops and boulders. There are five areas with pinnacles. Spectacular site in good visibility, and there are usually lots of fish.
    25 Outer Castle (Blindevals): S34°14.320' E018°29.002' — Depth: about 3 to 33 m. A blinder off Castle Rocks, which breaks if there is much swell. It is marked on the SAN charts as “blindevals”. The main feature of the site is a huge granite boulder on a bedrock base standing on four points with a swimthrough gap underneath and a small air trap overhang. Part of the Pie Rock Reef area.
    26 North Pie Rock Reef: S34°14.375' E018°29.090' — Two adjacent groups of pointy pinnacles rising to about 9 m
    27 West Pie Rock Reef: S34°14.396' E018°28.943' — A lobe of reef extending in a southwesterly direction.
    28 East Pie Rock Reef: S34°14.432' E018°29.153' — A lobe of reef extending in a southeasterly direction.
    29 South Pie Rock Pinnacles: S34°14.445' E018°28.985' — A group of pinnacles on a lobe of reef extending southwards between two sand tongues.

Finlay's Point to Partridge Point[edit]

The stretch of coastline south of Castle Rocks to Smitswinkel Bay is not really accessible from the road, partly due to the higher altitude of the road in this area and partly due to the rather steep mountainside, so these dive sites, though mostly close to the shore, are almost always dived from a boat.

The stretch of coastline south of Castle Rocks to Smitswinkel Bay is not really accessible from the road, partly due to the higher altitude of the road in this area and partly due to the rather steep mountainside, so these dive sites, though mostly close to the shore, are almost always dived from a boat.

Local geography: There are two small points along this relatively straight coastline at Finlay’s Point and Partridge Point, where some very large granite corestones form reefs which extend some distance into the bay. A few of these project quite high above the water and are easy landmarks for the dive sites.

The shoreline is consistently rocky in this section, and is made up of granite corestones with sandstone boulders which have found their way down the mountainside over the years. Above the waterline, the lower mountainside is granitic saprolith with dense vegetation cover.

Map of the dive sites off Finlay's Point

The Finlay's Point area sites include:

  • 30 Finlay’s Point (Jenga Reef): S34°14.959' E018°28.611'
    Reef dive. Boat access. Shore access is possible but rather athletic. Maximum depth about 15 m.
    The last big boulders north of Partridge Point. Bottom is mostly low to moderate rocky reef of outcrops and boulders of assorted sizes, some pretty big, in chaotic arrangement. Directly off the big corestones of the point is an area of big boulders and rugged reef, with small patches of sand.
  • Finlay's Point offshore pinnacles
    • Graeme's Spot and The Jambles
      Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 9 to 24 m.
      Large granite outcrop and huge boulders on an extensive area of granite corestone reef bordered by sandy areas to the west, north and east, and Carnaby Street Pinnacle to the south. Good biodiversity and reef cover and spectacular topography.
      31 The Jambles: S34°14.885' E018°28.890' —
      32 Graeme's Spot: S34°14.9029' E018°28.9170' —
    • 33 Finlay's Pinnacle: S34°14.970' E018°28.780'
      Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 9 to 18 m.
      Large granite outcrop and boulders on an extensive area of granite corestone reef bordered by a sandy strip to the south. Contiguous reef extends to The Jambles to the north and Carnaby Street Pinnacle to the east.
    • 34 Carnaby Street Pinnacle: S34°14.980' E018°28.920'
      Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 9 to 24 m.
      Large granite outcrop and large boulders on an extensive area of granite corestone reef bordered by sandy areas to the south and east, Graeme's Spot to the north, and Finlay's Pinnacle to the west.
  • 35 Finlay's Deep (Mont Blanc): S34°15.005' E018°29.194'
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth: 20 to 30 m.
    This is a small granite outcrop reef on a sand bottom directly offshore from Finlay's Point on the 30 m depth contour. Rich in Gorgonian sea fans.
  • 36 Atlantis Reef: S34°15' E018°29'
    Reef dive. Boat access only Depth 4 to 27 m.
    A pair of huge granite pinnacles (The Pillars of Hercules), on an extensive area of high and low profile reef. Excellent diversity of reef cover, shoals of fish and some exceptionally dense groups of gorgonian sea fans.

The Partridge Point area sites include

Map showing the location of the dive sites at Partridge Point
View of the dive sites at Partridge Point seen from the road near Smitswinkel Bay
  • 37 Sherwood Forest: S34°15.190' E18°29.010' (Pinnacle) between Atlantis and Partridge Point.
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 30 m.
    Reported on Underwater Cape Town as newly discovered site on 3 May 2012. Lots of sea fans.
  • 38 Fish Tank: S34°15.229’ E018°28.930’ (Pinnacle)
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 21 m.
    Compact granite reef, Lots of sea fans.
  • Partridge Point
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 26 m.
    The site known as Partridge Point includes the Big Rock group of rocks to the south, while Seal Rock (or Deep Partridge) is the reef offshore of the low rock to the east of the point. Peter's Pinnacle is the reef inshore and slightly south of the Big Rock. Very large granite boulders and outcrops, some extending above the surface by several metres.
    39 Seal Rock: S34°15.3370' E018°28.8920' — A fairly large flattish rock used as a haulout rock by seals with fairly shallow reef around it.
    40 Deep Partridge: S34°15.3500' E018°29.0000' — A lobe of high profile reef sloping down to a sandy bottom at about 27 m.
    41 Dave's Caves: S34°15.3780' E018°28.7040' — An exposed rock with a little cave under it in a kelp forest
    42 Partridge Point - Big Rock: S34°15.4650' E018°28.7880' — A large exposed rock marking a moderate depth area of high profile reef with a large swimthrough and a small air-trap overhang. Maximum depth about 21 m on the sand to the south and east.
    43 Peter's Pinnacles: S34°15.5150' E018°28.6870' — A group of shallow pinnacles with a swimthrough cave. Sand depth about 15 m

Smitswinkel Bay[edit]

Map of the dive sites at Smitswinkel Bay

The wrecks of Smitswinkel bay are among the best known and most popular boat dives of the Cape Town area. The water is deep enough to reduce surge significantly and shallow enough for recreational divers. The wrecks are easy to find, large and sufficiently intact to be recognisable, and have also developed a thriving ecology which includes a few relatively rare organisms.

Local geography: Smitswinkel Bay is a moderately large bay on the east side of the Cape Peninsula. The coast road gains altitude as it winds along the mountainside south of Simon’s Town and turns inland at Smitswinkel Bay.

To the north of the bay, the exposed rock at sea level is Peninsula granite, but on the south side the Graafwater sandstone extends below sea level. The bottom of the bay is flat sand with a few granite outcrops.

The sites include:

  • 44 SAS Transvaal: S34°15.956’ E018°28.778’ (Bow)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth 27 to 34 m.
    Loch class frigate "HMSAS Transvaal" F602 was launched at Belfast on 2 August 1944. The ship was sold for scrap and scuttled by explosive charges in Smitswinkel Bay to form an artificial reef on 3 August 1978. The wreck lies upright on a sand bottom and has partly collapsed.
  • 45 MFV Orotava: S34°16.023’ E018°28.796’ (bow)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth 23 to 34 m.
    The "MFV Orotava" was built in 1958. The trawler was donated to the False Bay Conservation Society along with the Princess Elizabeth by Irvin and Johnson. In August 1983 the vessels were towed out to Smitswinkel Bay and scuttled. The Orotava is the larger of the two trawlers and lies on the sand heeled to port about 20°.
  • 46 Good Hope Reef: S34°16.049’ E018°28.899’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 30 to 35 m.
    A small granite reef with lots of gorgonian sea fans.
  • 47 MFV Princess Elizabeth:S34°16.060’ E018°28.816’(bow) S34°16.068’ E018°28.839’ (stern)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth 22 to 36 m. The Princess Elizabeth was built in 1961. The trawler was badly damaged by a fire and was donated to the False Bay Conservation Society along with the Orotava by Irvin and Johnson. In August 1983 the vessels were towed out to Smitswinkel Bay and scuttled. The Princess Elizabeth is the smaller of the two trawlers and lies on the sand with a slight list to starboard.
  • 48 SAS Good Hope: S34°16.80’ E018°28.851’ (midships)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth 27 to 36 m.
    The Loch class frigate "HMSAS Good Hope" was launched in 1944. The vessel saw service as a convoy escort during the closing stages of World War II and was for many years the flagship of the SA Navy. The ship was sold for scrap and scuttled by explosive charges in Smitswinkel Bay to form an artificial reef on 18 June 1978.
  • 49 MV Rockeater: S34°16.135’ E018°28.855’ (Bow)
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth 34 m
    The 65 m "MV Rockeater" was built in New Orleans in 1945 as a coastal freighter for the United States Navy. The ship was bought by Ocean Science and Engineering (South Africa) in 1964 to be used for marine prospecting. The Rockeater was towed to Smitswinkel Bay on 15 December 1972 and scuttled.
  • Smits Swim
    Wreck dive. Boat access only. Depth 22 m to maximum of 36 m
    It is possible to visit all five wrecks on a single no-decompression dive. This is occasionally organised for people who want to have been there and done that.

Batsata area[edit]

Map showing the reef areas near Batsata Rock

A small group of dive sites just to the south of Smitswinkel Bay. They are inaccessible by land due to the steep cliffs along the shore and lack of nearby roads.

Local geography: These sites are at the foot of Judas Peak, the mountain peak on the south headland of Smitswinkel Bay. Their position at the base of the steep cliffs gives them protection from south westerly winds and swell, but they will catch some of the north westerly wind which comes through the gap in the mountains above Smitswinkel Bay. They are exposed to south easterly winds and waves.

The shoreline and shallow reef at Smits Cliff is Table Mountain Sandstone, probably Graafwater series, while the offshore reefs at Smits Reef and Batsata Rock are Peninsula Granite. The unconformity is near sea level in this area.

The sites include:

  • Smits Reef
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Depth 6 to 27 m.
    This is a very large area of granite reef extending north from near the Batsata Rock into the mouth of Smitswinkel Bay. It is a huge outcrop rising from coarse shelly sand bottom at about 27 m at the east side to 5 m on top. The reef has gradually sloping low areas and vertical walls, narrow deep gullies and ledges along jointing lines. Kreef Reef is a fairly large, relatively low profile outlying reef to the north.
    50 Kreef Reef: S34°16.360’ E018°28.780’ — A fairly large, relatively low profile outlying reef to the north.
    51 Horseshoe Reef: S34°16.410’ E018°28.940’ — The pinnacle on the northeastern ridge.
    52 Smits Reef: S34°16.4860’ E018°28.9290’ — The top of the main reef at about 5 m depth.
    53 Batsata Maze: S34°16.5170’ E018°29.0170’ — A group of huge boulders clustered together on the bedrock forming several small caves, gullies and swimthroughs.
    54 West Pinnacle: S34°16.495’ E018°28.863’ — A group of pinnacles rising to about 6 m at the south end of a large but relatively low outcrop to the west of the main reefs.
  • 55 Smits Cliff (Hell’s Gate): S34°16.48’ E018°28.41’
    Reef dive. Boat access only. Maximum depth about 16 m.
    The cliffs at the south side of Smitswinkel Bay are marked on the charts as Hell’s Gate. The site is not dived very often as there are more popular sites which are more accessible. As a result it is mostly unexplored and has not been mapped. The reef appears to be mostly sandstone.
  • Batsata Rock Reefs
    Reef dives. Boat access only. A large area of mostly granite reef.
    56 Batsata Blinder: S34°16.553' E018°28.840' — The half-tide rock north of the exposed rock.
    57 Batsata Rock: S34°16.602’ E018°28.830’ — Granite reef. Fairly shallow around the exposed rocks, maximum depth about 24 m at the sand edge to the east.
    58 Banging Rocks Reef: S34°16.775’ E018°28.830’ — Granite corestone reef, depth 6 m on top of the pinnacle, 19 m on sand patch a few metres to the east. Maximum depth about 24 m.

Buffels Bay[edit]

This area is inside the Cape Point area of the Table Mountain National Park. Access is controlled by the Parks Board and various fees are charged. A slipway at Buffels Bay is also controlled by Parks Board, and the facilities are usually in good condition, It might be more popular if access was allowed after 6 pm, though the known reefs are very ordinary, and the much more accessible reefs in the other parts of False Bay are adequate to the needs of most divers, so no-one bothers to explore this area. Some ecological monitoring is done by the Seaweed unit at UCT.

Local geography: Buffels Bay is the closest place to Cape Point where there is road access to a place sufficiently sheltered for a slipway to be viable.

The shoreline is sandstone in this area.

The sites include:

  • 59 Bordjiesrif: S34°18.99’ E018°27.83’
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: Fairly shallow.
    Shallow sandstone reef in the Cape Point National Park area.
  • 60 Buffels Bay: S34°19.217' E018°27.73'
    Reef dive. Shore access. Depth: Fairly shallow, less than 10 m.
    Shallow sandstone reef in the Cape Point National Park area.

Nearby[edit]

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