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Africa > Southern Africa > South Africa > Diving in South Africa > Diving the west coast of South Africa > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay > Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Stonehenge

Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Stonehenge

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The dive site Stonehenge is an offshore 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. Includes sites Stonehenge North, Stonehenge Central, Stonehenge South, Stonehenge wreck, Stonehenge Blinder, A-340 Pinnacle, Canyon, and the Dusky Pinnacle reefs, which include Coral Pinnacle and Sponge Garden.

Understand[edit]

Map of the dive sites in the area known as Stonehenge, south of Duiker Point on the Cape Peninsula

It is a good site for varied topography, biodiversity and depth variation.

Position[edit]

South of Duiker Point, below Karbonkelberg

  • 1 Dusky Pinnacles - Coral Pinnacle: S34°02.590' E018°18.206'
  • 2 Dusky Pinnacles - Sponge pinnacle: S34°02.587' E018°18.235'
  • 3 Stonehenge North: S34°02.625' E018°18.300'
  • 4 A-340 Pinnacle: S34°02.740' E018°18.200'
  • 5 Stonehenge Central: S34°02.750' E018°18.300'
  • 6 Stonehenge South: S34°02.835' E018°18.365'
  • 7 Stonehenge Wreck: S34°02.885' E018°18.335'
  • 8 Stonehenge Blinder: S34°02.838' E018°18.316'

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.

Name[edit]

The area is named "Stonehenge" after a group of rocks which break the surface near a much larger rock which is shown on the charts.

Depth[edit]

Maximum depth is over 30 m, along the eastern edge, and the depth varies considerably with the sites, some of which break the surface.

Visibility[edit]

Visibility will vary with season and weather conditions in much the same way as other sites in this area. On a good day it should be 10m or more, possibly as much as 20 m on an exceptional day, and should generally be more than 5 m in diveable conditions. However it is possible for a plankton bloom after an upwelling to reduce visibility, particularly near the surface, even when conditions are otherwise optimal.

Topography[edit]

Big boulders and rock outcrops over an extensive area. High relief in deeper areas with swim-throughs, holes and overhangs.

Stonehenge blinder is a huge granite corestone pinnacle about 65 m E-W by 45 m N-S at the base, tapering to 45 m E-W by 25 m N-S near the top. There is a narrow crack about 1.5 m wide and several metres deep by 15 or more metres long near the south east side, and the north side is very sheer. The top point is a bit away from the north eastern edge and is about 3 m deep. The bottom is lower profile reef at 20 m and deeper.

The western pinnacles are along the edge of the slope to deeper water, and the northern and eastern sites are relatively shallow. This is a huge area of reef which has not been explored very extensively and is only partly surveyed.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton

Conditions[edit]

The site is exposed to south westerly swells, so best when the south west swell component is low and short. This may occur during or after south easterly winds. The site is usually at it's best in summer, but there may also be occasional opportunities in autumn or early winter. The area to the south of Duiker point is marked on the charts as "Bakleiplaas" which is thought to be a reference to the usually relatively choppy surface conditions. The sea here is seldom really flat. The reef is not very extensively explored as conditions are not often good for diving, particularly in the shallower parts, where there is usually white water and strong surge.

This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by strong south easterly winds, resulting in cold clear water, and may then have a plankton bloom, which will reduce the visibility again.

Expect cold water (about 11°C). Temperature ranges between about 8°C to 14°C

Get in[edit]

Stonehenge dive sites

The site is only accessible by boat. It is about 6.5 km from Hout Bay harbour.

See[edit]

Marine life[edit]

Typical of the big reefs of the Atlantic coast. There is a heavy growth of red bait in shallow areas, Kelp on top surfaces in moderate depths, and fairly bare rock with urchins on relatively flat deep surfaces. Walls, overhangs and other steep surfaces are covered with wide variety of sponges, corals, ascidians and other invertebrates.

Photography[edit]

Good photographic site. There will always be good subjects for macro work, and wide angle with natural lighting will produce good results on a clear day.

Routes[edit]

Stonehenge Blinder: — Drop in at the pinnacle and descend to the bottom. Slowly ascend as you swim around the pinnacle, observing the various zones. If the sea is calm, a safety stop can be done over the top of the pinnacle, otherwise deploy a DSMB or ascend on the shotline.

Stonehenge Wreck: — Drop a shotline at the GPS position and use it to find the wreckage, which is a small amount of debris at 21 m from a small workboat which sank here while transporting salvaged steel from the wreck of the Bos400 towards Hout Bay harbour. After looking at this, swim a compass course to the blinder, which is the most interesting recorded topographical feature in easy reach, or do your own thing and explore the area. Carry a DSMB and use it to alert the boat when you start ascent.

Detail map of the dive sites at Dusky Pinnacles

Dusky Pinnacles, with Coral Pinnacle and Sponge Garden — to the north west of the exposed rocks there are a few pinnacles grouped quite closely in a rough line from west to east. Coral pinnacle is the highest. It is a typical single huge boulder on a flat bedrock base, like several others in this region. It is small enough that most divers will move away from it at some stage of the dive, so a DSMB is recommended in case you do not get back to the shotline. Depths of 24 m are found nearby, and over 30 m is possible by swimming west or north. There is a lower pinnacle a short distance to the west and another slightly north-east. The area to the south west is not mapped or reported in any detail, but is probably also deeper than 30 m. There is a smaller pinnacle south of the Duskies which rises to about 7 m depth on top, and other roughly 9 m pinnacles a short distance to the east. These pinnacles were named after a pod of dusky dolphins which were seen at the pinnacle on the day that it was first surveyed, which was the first recorded dive at the site. The main pinnacle of the group is also known as Coral Pinnacle for the noble corals on its sides. The row of lower pinnacles to the east is the Sponge Garden, which has several large swim-throughs under the pinnacles, and several overhangs and small walls, which have quite diverse and colourful sponges.

A-340 Pinnacle

Stonehenge Central is relatively shallow and heavily grown with kelp. Although shallow, it is high profile reef with lots of small gaps and overhangs.

Stay safe[edit]

Hazards[edit]

Cold water, Strong surge in gulleys and swim-throughs, and over the top of the shallow parts of the reef. Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.

Skills[edit]

No special skills required. The ability to deploy a DSM and use a compass is useful.

Equipment[edit]

A light can be useful to look into dark places and to restore colour at depth. A compass can help keep track of your position, and a DSMB is handy to allow the boat to keep track of ascending divers. Nitrox can extend your no-decompression time if you are well insulated.

Nearby[edit]

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Outer Hout Bay

This dive guide to Stonehenge is a usable article. It has information on location and equipment as well as some complete entries on what to see. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.