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The dive site Tafelberg Reef is an offshore rocky reef in the outer Hout Bay area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


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


  • 1 Tafelberg Reef West: S34°04.195' E018°18.812'
  • 2 Tafelberg Reef North: S34°03.986' E018°18.958'

This site is in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area since 2004. A permit is required.


A large area of reef off the Karbonkelberg headland to the south west of Hout Bay, is marked "Tafelberg" on the charts. The reef extends continuously from the Vulcan Rock area to the north west, to the Klein Tafelberg area in the south east. Tafelberg translates to Table Mountain.


Max depth is about 30 m, top of reef about 8 m on the highest pinnacles.


This is an area where visibility is likely to be better than average. On a good day it can exceed 20 m, but 10 m is more likely. Good visibility is often associated with several days of strong south easterly wind which causes upwelling of clear, cold water from the depths. This water is often rich in dissolved nutrients, and if the wind is followed by a few days of bright sunshine, there may be an plankton bloom, also known as a 'red tide' which may decrease the visibility, particularly in the surface layers. However, the deeper water may still be relatively clear, though the light levels will be less and the water will be much greener.


Rugged granite corestone outcrops with high relief and sand bottom at about 29 m to the west. There are deep crevices and gullies. There is not much overhang, but a lot of vertical faces. The site is very rugged and spectacular in good visibility.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton


The site is exposed to south westerly swells, which can cause a strong surge. The site is usually at its best in summer but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and winter.

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

Keep a lookout for times when the south west swell is low and short period, and there is not too much south easterly wind forecast.

Get in[edit]

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

The site is only accessible by boat. It is about 4.5 km from Hout Bay Harbour. Boats may anchor, but conditions are usually more appropriate for drift dives.


Marine life[edit]

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

Reef heavily encrusted with red and brown algae on shallower horizontal surfaces, sponges, hard and soft corals and ascidians on more vertical surfaces. Seals may visit, particularly during decompression stops. Sand appears relatively barren.


Good site for photography.


Preferably a live boat dive as the reef is large and there may be a current.

Stay safe[edit]

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


Cold water, Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.


No special skills required, though the ability to deploy a DSMB is strongly recommended in case you are separated from the group or need to surface away from the shot line.


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

It is cold and moderately deep, and a dry suit is recommended. This is a dive site where the use of Nitrox can be worthwhile to extend no-stop time. A light is recommended for looking into crevices and to restore colour to the marine invertebrates. This is a large site, well offshore, and it is strongly recommended to carry a DSMB and reel. A compass can also be useful for keeping track of directions, as there are few other clues.


Tafelberg Reef and nearby dive sites. The orange line is the border of the Karbonkelberg restricted area

Back to the Alphabetical list of sites, or list of dive sites in the Outer Hout Bay area

Other regional dive sites:

This dive guide to Tafelberg Reef 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.