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The dive site Sherwood Forest is an offshore rocky reef in the Partridge Point area on the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Map of the reef at Sherwood Forest
See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Understand

The site has exceptional sea fans.


  • S34°15.186' E18°29.014' 1 Sherwood Forest West pinnacles (Highest pinnacle)
  • S34°15.182' E18°29.050' 2 Sherwood Forest East pinnacles (Highest pinnacle)

Sherwood Forest lies between Atlantis Reef and Seal Rock at Partridge Point. This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. A short distance to the west there is the small cluster pinnacle known as Fish Tank.



The name "Sherwood Forest" was chosen by the divers on the first recorded dive at this site on 3rd May 2012. They reported large numbers of large sea fans.



Maximum depth is about 30 m, to the far east of the reef, and the top of the pinnacles is about 16 m. A large part is above 21 m. Average depth is likely to be about 22 m.



Visibility can vary like any other dive site in the area, but in diveable conditions is likely to be between 5 and 10 m, and on a very good day, up to 20 m.



This deep reef is made up mostly of jumbled granite boulders, clumped together in patches and dispersed between sandy areas in others. The highest known pinnacle is at about 16 m depth on top, and is in a compact cluster of slightly lower pinnacles in the middle of the north side of the reef. There is an extensive area above 21 m to the west, some high boulders on the edge of the reef to the south-west, and a group of lower pinnacles reaching up to just below 18 m a bit east of the high point. The sand is at about 23 m depth to the west, going down to at least 27 m further east.

Just east of the main cluster of high pinnacles the reef as nearly split from north to south by a large gully with a sandy bottom in many places, but with occasional areas of boulders connecting the east and west portions. On a very good day the groups of pinnacles can be seen from each other across the gully

Geology: Granite corestone boulders and outcrops of the Peninsula pluton.



The site is often at its best during or after a westerly wind, but may be good even during an easterly if it is not too strong and the swell has not built up yet. Surge may be considerable in the shallower areas in a long period swell even if it is low.

The site is exposed to south east wind and waves, and is moderately exposed to south westerly swell, particularly long period swell, which bends round Cape Point, though Sherwood Forest is not far to the north of the reefs at Partridge Point, and they provide some protection from south-westerly swell. The site is usually at its best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring, and sometimes even in summer a good day may occur.

Look for days when the forecast is for swell from the west, or low swell from the south-west, and either light winds or south-westerly wind. This can occur just before a cold front gets to the peninsula, and in these cases the weather is often mild, even sunny, and with little wind in the day or two before the front arrives. During the passage of the front, the weather is generally windy, overcast and frequently rainy, but may still provide very good diving if the wind is not too strong for the boats to operate. A north-westerly wind will not usually be a problem for diving, but the chop may make the trip back uncomfortably wet and bumpy.

After the front has passed, in winter one can expect a day or two of good diving before the next front. In summer, a front is commonly followed by strong south easterly winds, which kick up an unpleasant short onshore chop which makes the boat ride uncomfortable and messes up the visibility.

Get in

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

Boat access only. The site is approximately 3.5 km from Miller's Point slipway and 10.8 km from Simon's Town jetty.


tubular hydroid

Marine life

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

Because the reef is deep, there are many sea fans, some up to 2 m tall. Tubular hydroids, gasflame nudibranchs, silvertips, redspotted nudibranchs and protea dorids can all be seen. Also, hottentot, schools of strepies, and cryptic reef fish like the Chinese klipfish. The site may be visited by spearnose skates and some of the seals which haul out at Seal Rock nearby..



The site is relatively deep, so illumination will usually be poor. There may be opportunities for wide angle shots, but close-ups and macro using artificial light will more often give better results. While the topography is reasonably interesting, there are no particularly spectacular features.

Suggested Routes


No special routes recommended. The pinnacles may be difficult to find at the end of a dive, so start there if you want to see them.

Stay safe

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



No site specific hazards have been reported.



Certification appropriate to the depth is expected. The dive is beyond the depth range for entry level divers.


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

No special equipment is required. A DSMB and reel is recommended to alert the boat crew of your position when surfacing, and to warn other boats of your presence, as this area may carry fairly heavy small craft traffic at times, and the commercial ski-boat fishermen are not all particularly concerned for the safety of divers.


Sherwood Forest 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 Finlay's Point to Partridge Point area

Other regional dive sites:

This dive guide to Sherwood Forest 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!