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The dive site Fan Reef, also known as Fantastic Reef, is a small offshore rocky reef in the Castle Rocks area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Map of the dive site Fan Reef.
See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Understand

The site has a large concentration of fairly large gorgonian sea fans


1 Fan Reef: S34°14.165' E18°29.260' — A small relatively low area of moderately deep reef, close to the Miller's Point slipway.

The site is about half way between Miller's Point and Castle Rocks and reaches the 30 m depth contour. It is about 1.1 km from the shore directly to the west. North Fan Reef is about 100 m to the north of Fan Reef across the sand.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is entirely inside the Castle Rocks Restricted Zone, though a few small outliers may be outside.


A Palmate sea fan at North Fan Reef.

The reef was originally named "Fan Reef" for the large numbers of gorgonian sea fans found there. The alternative name "Fantastic Reef" is based on the original name.


The bottom is at about 30 m on the sand to the east of the reef at high tide. The top of the pinnacles to the south east is at about 19 m deep at low tide The sand bottom to the east is at about 25 m depth.


Visibility will usually be much the same as the other reefs in the Castle Rocks and Miller's Point area, but may be a bit better than on the inshore reefs. It may also be darker due to the greater depth, particularly if there is a plankton bloom at the surface.


Fan Reef is the southernmost sector of the Fan Reef complex, it is a small granite corestone reef of fairly large outcrops, some of which are quite high, and some low. This section of the reef area is more or less contiguous. There is a small cluster of pinnacles in the south eastern part of this sector, which rise from the sand at about 28m to about 19m, but much of the reef is lower, and most of the edge is between 1 and 2 m above the sand.

A short distance away to the north west, across a narrow sand belt, and visible from Fan Reef in good visibility, is a patch of low and fairly broken reef, the North West sector, and further north again is North Fan Reef. Most of this patch appears to be lower than 2 m above the sand, and much of it below 1 m. The nearest part to Fan Reef is very low, broken and sandy.

North Fan Reef is granite reef of outcrops and boulders of about 10 m maximum height, and up to about 20 m long. Rugged terrain, with lots of gullies and steep walls and quite a few overhangs. There is a small swimthrough, probably on the west side, just above the sand.

There are other scattered outcrops to the west and south west of the main reefs, the largest of which is to the southeast about 100m away, and a small patch of reef to the far north, quite close to the North Fan Reef sector.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton


The site is moderately protected from south-westerly swell. South-east chop may make it unpleasant on the surface, but it may be quiet below the wave base. Generally considered a winter dive site but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring.

Get in[edit]

See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Boat dives

Access to this site is only practicable by boat. The site is approximately 1.8 km from Miller's Point slipway and 9.1 km from Simon's Town jetty.


Marine life[edit]

See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#The marine ecology

The site is notable for a variety of gorgonian sea fans, Sunburst soft corals, striped and strawberry anemones, Basket stars, feather stars, sea cucumbers, coralline algae, encrusting sponges, urchins, colonial ascidians and a few species of nudibranch. You may also see Horsefish, Barred fingerfins and Shy sharks.


The site is fairly deep. Natural light will usually be poor, so a flash will be necessary. There will usually be enough particulate matter in the water to necessitate an external flash for all except close up work. Macro and wide angle lenses will usually provide good results. Subject size will range from a few millimetres to about a metre.


No routes recommended, the reef is quite small and may be comprehensively visited on a dive. Spend some time on the sand at the edge of the rock, and work your way up to the higher parts, to see the widest variety of sea life.

Boats should not anchor on the reef, and shotlines should be dropped a few metres off the reef on the sand.Divers can move the shot to within sight of the reef if they intend to return to it to surface

Stay safe[edit]

See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Stay safe


No site specific hazards have been reported.


Appropriate certification for the depth is expected. No special skills are required, though buoyancy control and finning skills should be adequate to avoid damage to the sea fans and other sensitive organisms.


See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Equipment

No special equipment required. A DSMB and reel are recommended in case it is necessary to surface away from the shotline.


Fan Reef and nearby dive sites. Orange line indicates the border of the Castle Rocks Restricted Area of the MPA.

Back to the Alphabetical list of sites, or list of dive sites in the Castle Rocks area

Other regional dive sites:

This dive guide to Fan Reef has guide status. It has a variety of good, quality information including location, conditions and equipment, and info on marine life and other sights. Please contribute and help us make it a star!