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Travel topics > Activities > Sport > Water sport > Scuba diving > Diving in South Africa > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Pyramid

Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Pyramid

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The dive site Pyramid is an inshore rocky reef in the Castle Rocks restricted area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand[edit]

Map showing the dive sites at Pyramid Reef near Castle Rocks.
Pyramid is visible as a small spot of white water at the lower right centre of the aerial photo (CDS&M).

This is the best dive site near Cape Town for variety of fish.

Position[edit]

  • 1 Pyramid Reef East Pinnacles: S34°14.220’ E018°28.810’ — A shallow area of small pinnacles northeast of Pyramid Rock.
  • 2 Pyramid Rock: S34°14.225’ E018°28.700’ — Between Miller’s Point and Castle Rocks, a short distance offshore (about 250 m). It is always visible, either as pointed black rock above the surface or as a patch of white water at very high tide.
  • 3 Castle Pinnacles: S34°14.356' E018°28.826' — A group of fairly tall pinnacles along the edge of the sand. One of them has a large swimthrough under it.
  • 4 Sansui Reefs: S34°14.35?’ E018°28.84?’ — (approximate) An area of picturesque small ridges and boulders on a rippled white sand bottom near the Castle Pinnacles.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is entirely inside the Castle Rocks Restricted Zone.

Name[edit]

Named "Pyramid" for the pointed rock that marks the site. It projects above the water at all tides and is easily identified.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is probably about 12 m

Visibility[edit]

Topography[edit]

Large granite corestone boulders on outcrops with sand around in deep areas and at the bottom of some gullies. There are several small tunnels, caves and overhangs. Further offshore there is sand bottom between the pyramid reefs and the Pie Rock and Outer Castle reefs. Offshore sand is pinkish and moderately coarse and even grained. Large inshore patches are of finer and whiter sand, particularly the sandy area at Shark Alley to the west and the sand tongue to the south which separated Pyramid reefs from Castle Rocks reefs. There is dense kelp forest on shallower rocks and near-shore reef.

Pyramid Rock: The rock itself is unmistakable and easy to identify as it extends above the surface at almost all states of the tide. The area has a number of huge boulders forming overhangs, gullies and the occasional small swim-through. To the north, the reef is lower and flatter, with fairly large open areas, and to the east it is largely unexplored.

Castle Pinnacles: To the northwest of the point at Castle Rocks across a sand tongue from the Castle Rocks reef, there is an area of large boulders and pinnacles. The pinnacles rise from a bottom of about 15 to 18 m, and in one case to within 3 m of the surface, and are huge sheer sided boulders. There are two major groups, the first one is a single large block with a crack along the middle. The second, in line with the first, but further out, is a jumble of rocks with caves, gullies and overhangs. There are more pinnacles further out, but they are not as high. One of these pinnacles has a double swim-through under it. Originally they were considered part of the Castle Rocks reef area, but they are separated by a stretch of sand, and are actually part of the Pyramid reef area.

Sansui Reefs: An area of ridges and sandy bottomed gullies beyond Castle Pinnacles. Quite picturesque in good visibility, and reminiscent of the Japanese gardening style after which it was named.

Geology: Granite corestone boulders of the Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton.

Conditions[edit]

Usually considered to be a winter dive but there are also occasional opportunities in spring and autumn. The site is well sheltered from north west wind and chop. Swell from the south west or south east will cause surge. Judge by the conditions at the entry point and the colour of the water further out.

Facilities[edit]

Parking at the side of the road is not very secure, and you also have to take into account baboons, which may investigate your vehicle in the hope of finding food. Lock the car and put any valuables where they can not be seen.

Get in[edit]

Pyramid reef and nearby dive sites

The site may be dived from shore or boat.

Shore entry: Parking at the side of the road. The usual entry point is at a small rocky beach just inshore of Pyramid rock and north of Castle Rocks at a position along the shoreline at S34°14.288’ E018°28.537’. Check out the pathways leading down to the shore before kitting up, as some are worse than others. All are steep and slippery when wet, some are dangerously so. The shore entry is over some small rounded boulders on the beach, and bigger ones in the water, and can be a little tricky if there is a swell, as this results in a small shore break which can be troublesome if you are carrying a large camera with strobes.

Alternative shore entry from Castle Rocks north entry at S34°14'19.98" E018°28'35.92"

Boat dives at this site have recently become more popular as many divers do not like the shore access, particularly when carrying cameras. Boat access requires care due to the kelp forests offshore of the site. There is a sandy gap between the north side of Castle Rocks and Pyramid which extends near to the shore and which is relatively clear of kelp. The site is approximately 1.9 km from Miller's Point slipway and 9.1km from Simon's Town jetty.

See[edit]

Marine life[edit]

This is a very good site for fish, particularly on rebreather, as it has been a sanctuary for many years. This is a site where you may see Red steenbras, Red stumpnose, Bank steenbras, Janbruin, and Galjoen as well as the more common species like Hottentot, Roman, Jutjaw, Blacktail, Steentjies, Fransmadam, Two tone fingerfin, Redfingers and Strepies, and some of the common local Klipfish species. Cow sharks, Spotted gully sharks, Striped and Leopard catsharks and Puffadder shysharks may also be seen.

There is kelp forest all round the site, and various seaweeds, particularly in the shallower areas and tops of rocks.

There is also a large diversity of invertebrates.

Photography[edit]

Good site for fish and macro photography. If you want to use flash, use an external strobe to reduce backscatter.

Routes[edit]

There are no good areas for anchoring. Any place close to the pinnacle is likely to foul the anchor and damage the reef life. A shotline is also not necessary or desirable for ordinary recreational dives.

  1. Entry at North access point at Castle Rocks, Surface swim to the pyramid rock. Descend and circumnavigate the pinnacle, compass course back to Castle Rocks about SW (225° magnetic).
  2. Entry at North access point at Castle Rocks, descend and swim north-west over the sand to the reef to the north, Follow the south edge of this reef eastwards to the pinnacles.
  3. If you go beyond the pinnacles with the reef edge to your left, you will get to the Sansui Reefs.
  4. Alternative entry at Shark Alley entry, surface swim to the Pyramid rock and dive around it. To get back to the entry point, swim on a bearing of roughly east to north east magnetic and if you come to the sand patch, follow it in (about 320° magnetic). If you surface north of the entry point, there is a very rocky area which should be avoided if possible. Try to get back under water to stay under the kelp canopy if your air supply allows.
  5. Alternative entry and exit at Rumbly Bay slipway at Miller's Point. Swim out around the big exposed rocks, descend and swim a compass course towards Pyramid. The reef gets better as you move south.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

The shore access can be tricky in a surge, particularly the exit.

Skills[edit]

No special skills required. A good site for the fit and competent snorkeller.

A reasonable level of fitness and agility is required for the shore entries. There is a moderately long swim and a climb up to the road.

Equipment[edit]

A light is useful to see into holes and overhangs. A compass will help keep your bearings and let you navigate back to shore under water. A surface marker buoy is not recommended as it will get caught up in the kelp.

Nearby[edit]

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Castle Rocks

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