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South Africa Travel

Diving in False Bay offers a large variety of different dives which makes this such a sought-after destination.


False Bay is a body of water in the Atlantic Ocean between the mountainous Cape Peninsula and the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the extreme south-west of South Africa. The mouth of the bay faces south and is demarcated by Cape Point to the west and Cape Hangklip to the east.

False Bay South Africa

Kelp Forest

kelp forest

Kelp forest as seen from below the surface

The magical Kelp Forests is a big attraction and is a lovely scenic dive. Exploring this unique habitat is a wonderful experience, being immersed in a forest with kelp standing like tall trees that can grow up to 17m in length. In between the kelp, you will find charming pieces of reef that cover the large boulders. There is a variety of species that can be found here including octopuses, starfish, cuttlefish, rock lobsters and the kelp also hosts many fish species found nowhere else in the world. As well as a variety of shark species including Seven-gill Cow Sharks, Pyjama catsharks and different Shysharks.

Seal Dives

seal false bay sealife

Cape fur seals diving down to inspect my camera

Cape fur seals are endemic to Southern Africa. The African fur seal lives around the southern and southwestern coast of Africa from Cape Cross in Namibia and around the Cape of Good Hope to Black Rocks near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province. Seals are the friendly ‘water dogs’ of the sea, very playful and inquisitive. They will often accompany divers to see what they are up to. They are curious creatures and will sometimes mimic your behaviour when interacting with them underwater. Seals are fun to watch as they effortlessly glide through the water twirling and blowing bubbles. 

Wreck Diving

false bay wreck diving underwater

My dive buddy posing on the PMB (Pietermaritzburg) wreck

A variety of wrecks lay scattered all over the ocean floor of False Bay, especially old navy ships in Simon’s Town. You get the magnificent SAS Pietermaritzburg, which was a minesweeper used by the navy up until 1994 when they decided to scuttle it to form an artificial reef. And then there are the wrecks of Smitswinkel Bay, which is a collection of five wrecks scuttled by the Navy. The five wrecks include the SAS Transvaal, SAS Good Hope, Rockeater, Princess Elizabeth and the Oratava. There’s so much to see on the wrecks that are covered with vibrant reefs. You can see colourful corals with numerous small creatures like nudibranchs and interesting crab species, carpets of tiny Strawberry anemones, Cape Fur Seals, starfish and countless other fish and small shark species such as the Pyjama Catshark and Shyshark species.

Reef Dives

false bay reef underwater

The colorful reef on a dive site called Atlantis or Pillars of Hercules

False Bay’s reefs are very colourful. Shallow reefs are normally surrounded by kelp forests and are brightly coloured with tiny sea creatures spread across it. If you go to the deeper reefs, which are usually only accessible by boat, you will experience a much wider variety of marine life. An abundance of reef fish, beautiful large sea fans, small sharks, nudibranchs, sponges, cuttlefish, octopus and much much more.


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Madelein Wolfaardt Author

by Madelein Wolfaardt

Images by @sealife_madeleinwolf

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