The dive site Seal Island or Duiker Island is an inshore rocky reef in the Karbonkelberg headland area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
This is a site where you will see Cape fur seals, close up and in your face, both in the water and on the rocks. Other than seals, kelp and some low seaweeds, there is not much to see. The site is very popular with tourists who usually snorkel with the seals, though scuba excursions are generally also available. Locals generally go there once or twice, and then realise that they will see seals quite often at other sites.
- 1 Duiker Island anchorage: S34°03.458’ E018°19.562’ — This little island is just round the corner from Hout Bay, below the Sentinel peak.
- 2 G's sandy pool: S34°03.733' E018°19.733'
This site is in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area since 2004. A permit is required. The site is within the Karbonkelberg restricted area.
The small rocky islet marked on maps and charts as "Duikereiland" has become known locally 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.
The site is shallow, at about 6 m depth, in the sheltered inshore anchorage to the north-west but will vary a bit from place to place.
Granite boulders and outcrops over an extensive area. No sand seen, but lots of kelp. The anchorage has a relatively level rocky bottom and is to some extent protected from the swell by a ridge to the south-west. The kelp in this area is less dense than most of the water around the island, which is why it is the preferred anchorage.
Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton
The site is exposed to south westerly swells, and is near to the famous "Dungeons" big wave surfing reef. It is also exposed to the south easterly winds, but is protected from the wind chop as it is in the lee of the island. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter
This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by the south easterly winds, resulting in cold clear water, which may develop a plankton bloom over a few days, which will reduce visibility again
This site is only accessible as a boat dive. It is about 4 km from Hout Bay harbour. Anchorage is not good as there is a high risk of fouling among the boulders and dense kelp forests, but there is an area to the west of the island, sheltered from the incoming waves by an underwater ridge, which is relatively clear of kelp. The bottom is mostly rocky, and holding may be good or bad, depending on where the anchor lands, When there are several boats in the anchorage, some luck may be required to find a good spot, but the water is shallow and the anchor can be checked and set on snorkel.
Most diving is done in the kelp forests to the north west of the islet, in the anchorage, to keep clear of the channel which has quite a bit of boat traffic, and lacks space for the larger tourist boats to maneuver if there are divers in the water.
There are boat operators who specialise in snorkel trips to the seal colony. They generally offer a package deal which includes full snorkel kit with the trip. There are also boat trips to view the area from the boat. No landing or diving is possible on the large boats. Make sure you book the tour that you want.
- Animal Ocean Marine Adventures, Mobile operation - no offices, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Available any time on email or cell phone. Seal Snorkelling, Ocean Safaris, Boat Charters, Sardine Run and Specialist Photographic Expeditions. Local boat dive R200 excluding equipment, 2 pax minimum.
Seals and kelp. More seals, extra kelp.
Good site for photographs of seals. Ambient light and wide angle lens. Seals are fast and will often come very close to a diver. Wide angle video is good for capturing the shots you are not quick enough to frame as stills.
Most diving is done to the west of the island in fairly shallow water, quite close to the island shore. No routes needed, the seals will come to you. Hang around until you have seen enough, or get too cold, or the boat has to leave, and watch seals.
There is a sandy bottomed patch named G's Sandy Pool to the south east of the island at 34° 3'44.00"S 18°19'44.00"E. This is a sandy spot approx 30 m x 60 m in the middle of kelp beds and reefs. Nice spot in good clear conditions, you will probably see seals.
Cold water, but it is shallow and you can get back on the boat at short notice. However, you will have to wait for the last diver to get back before the boat will return to Hout Bay, and the wind chill after the dive may be significant.
No special skills required, suitable for novices and for snorkelling.
No special equipment recommended.
- 1 MV Ker Yar Vor and the Jo May
- 2 SS Maori
- 3 SAS Gelderland
- 4 SS Oakburn / MV Bos 400
- 5 Die Perd
- 6 Kanobi’s Wall
- 7 SURG Pinnacles
- 8 Star Wall
- 9 Star Wall - M&M Cave
- 10 Star Wall - Lollipop Pinnacle
- 11 Sunfish Pinnacle
- 12 Canyon
- 13 Stonehenge Dusky Pinnacles - Coral Pinnacle
- 14 Stonehenge North
- 15 A-340 Pinnacle
- 16 Stonehenge Central
- 17 Stonehenge South
- 18 Stonehenge Blinder
- 19 Stonehenge Wreck
- 20 Di’s Cracks
- 21 Vulcan Rock
- 22 Tafelberg Reef
- 23 Klein Tafelberg Reef
- 24 Tafelberg Deep
- 25 Tafelberg Deep Pinnacle
- 26 Sentinel
- 27 MV Aster
- 28 MV Katsu Maru