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The dive site Whirlpool Cove is a shoreline rocky reef in the Rooi-els area on the East side of False Bay, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Aerial view of the dive site at Whirlpool Cove. (Photo CDS&M)
See also: Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Understand


  • S34°16.97’ E018°49.55’ 1 Whirlpool Cove (approximate)

The site is just around the headland to the north east of Percy's Hole.

This site is not in a Marine Protected Area. A permit is not required.


The whirlpool gap with a long period swell. The water level may rise and fall by more than two metres over a few seconds, and a powerful vortex is formed.

The site is named "Whirlpool Cove" for the turbulent gap between the group of rocks and the south end of the cove which produces some awesome vortices in a strong surge.


Maximum depth of about 24 m is about 50 m offshore.


Similar to Percy's Hole.


The bottom trends down gradually in series of parallel sandstone ridges and gullies, of varying size but consistent dip and strike. The entry gully is parallel sided and about 3m deep, with a sharp bend near the end to follow the plane of the strata. the rock is mostly fairly hard sandstone of a pale grey-brown colour with pink and brown staining. There is an area of very dark staining and the texture changes and the rock seems harder but not necessarily more resistant to erosion. The whirlpool rocks are darker but this may be because they are almost always wet. The underwater topography does not seem as interesting as the surface suggests, but then it has not been comprehensively explored and there may be much to be found.

Whirlpool gap on a quiet day. This gap between the whirlpool rocks and the shore can be extremely turbulent in a strong surge. On this occasion it was quiet and pleasant. The gap is quite deep (more than 6m)

Geology: Sandstones, probably of the Peninsula formation. Strike is roughly parallel to the shoreline, Dip is fairly steep to the south east.


Best when south westerly component of the swell is low and short period. South easterly winds will not usually be a problem, but westerlies can push up an uncomfortable chop which will make shore entry and exit tricky. Long period south westerly swells may make entry and exit from the shore dangerous. The surge in the gap between the group of rocks to the south of the cove can be impressive in these conditions, with a powerful vortex that looks rather unpleasant. It is quite mild if the swell lacks power.


Paved roadside parking area directly above the site.

Get in[edit]

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

Boat dive from Rooi-Els or Gordon's Bay, or a shore entry dive with quite a climb. Not difficult, but high. The scree at the roadside is probably the worst part of the climb.

Whirlpool cove seen from the road near the parking area.

Park at paved parking area on seaward side of road on Faure Marine Drive (R44) above dive site, The path is not clear, so check it out before kitting up. The gully can be a very easy entry and a safe exit on a quiet day. There are ledges just below the photographer which can be used for access if the tide is high enough. The dip of the strata can be clearly seen on the far side.

Enter at the side of the gully after checking conditions. There are various small ledges which form convenient steps. If the tide is high enough they may be useful as an exit. If the swell is mild enough the inner end of the gully can be used as an exit, but if the surge is strong it will not be comfortable, and may be dangerous.

Alternative exits at Percy’s Hole if conditions deteriorate badly during a dive.

The site is about (distance)km from Gordon's Bay, or (distance)km from the Rooi-els slipway


Marine life[edit]

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

A good site, but not as varied as Percy's, and not the same density of reef life.


A fairly good site for photography.


No particular route recommended. The site has not been mapped or thoroughly explored. More information is needed.

Stay safe[edit]

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


Shore access requires a long walk down steep rocks and a slightly tricky entry and exit. Keep clear of the very strong surge in the gap if there is much swell running.


No special skills required.


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

No special equipment required. A light may be useful for looking under overhangs.


Whirlpool Cove and nearby dive sites

Back to the Alphabetical list of sites, or list of dive sites in the Rooi-els area

Other regional dive sites:

This dive guide to Whirlpool cove 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.