Sardine Run 2019



The 2018 sardine run was awesome and there was so much happening out at sea. Contact us today to get pricing for day rates and special group deals.

We are currently operating from Port St. John’s on the Wild Coast which is approximately 4,5 to 4 hours drive from Durban and we are able to take care of everything from getting you here to getting you out on the boat.

Whether you are a scuba diver or just want to spend the day enjoying the sardine run action from the boat we at ScubaCo Diving & Travel will make this possible.

We do offer a “Build your own package” for Sardine Run 2019, should you be short of time and willing to self drive while in South Africa this way you can be sure not to miss out on the actions.

The Sardine Run South Africa 2019 – “The Ultimate Marine Migration”

Every year the Transkei and Kwazulu-Natal coastline experiences a phenomenon fondly known as the Sardine Run.

Over the years, the Sardine Run has proved tons of fun for everyone; and by everyone, we mean not only the sardines, but the numerous shark species, Humpback whales, and dolphin superpods that come along for the ride.

If you’re looking to experience the ultimate marine migration, you have got to join us and get in on the action for the Sardine Run 2019!

Travelling down to Port St. John’s in the Transkei, ScubaCo Diving & Travel wouldn’t miss this yearly phenomenon for the world; and you shouldn’t either!

With the involvement of the hyperactive Cape Gannets sure to keep things interesting, see more than you bargained for at the Sardine Run 2019!

Available Packages – Sardine Run 2019 Dates

Starting Dates PACKAGE:

 Group #1~ 16th – 23rd June 2019 – 5 Spaces Left

 Group #2 ~ 21st – 28th June 2019 – Fully Booked

 Group #3 ~ 27th – 4th July 2019 – 3 Spaces Left

 Group #4 ~ 2nd – 9th July 2019 – Limited Spaces Left

 Group #5 ~ 8th – 15th July 2019 – Limited Spaces Left

 Group #6 ~ 13th – 20th July 2019 – Limited Spaces Left


Available Packages – Sardine Run 2020 Dates

Starting Dates PACKAGE:

Group #1~ 16th – 23rd June 2020

 Group #2 ~ 21st – 28th June 2020 – FULLY BOOKED

 Group #3 ~ 27th – 4th July 2020 – FULLY BOOKED

 Group #4 ~ 1st – 8th July 2020

 Group #5 ~ 6th – 13th July 2020

 Group #6 ~ 13th – 20th July 2020

Build you own! Please contact us for available dates if you’d like join us for a day or two, we are able to accommodate self drive and designing your own package, as long a your package fits into the dates listed above.

2019 PACKAGE ~ 7 Nights / 6 Days (5 Sardine Run Water Days / 1 Aliwal Shoal Day)

DIVER / SNORKELER – R33 500p.p. sharing.

DIVER / SNORKELER – R36 000 single person.

NON DIVER – R15 000 sharing. (no boat days included)

2020 PACKAGE ~ 7 Nights / 6 Days (5 Sardine Run Water Days / 1 Aliwal Shoal Day)

DIVER / SNORKELER – R36 550p.p. sharing.

DIVER / SNORKELER – R39 600 single person.

NON DIVER – R16 500 sharing. (no boat days included)


  • RETURN TRANSFERS – Durban International Airport to Port St. John’s
  • 7 Nights Accommodation (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast)
  • 5 Sardine Run Boar Days with Snacks & Refreshments on the Boat
  • 1 Day of Shark & Reef Diving on Aliwal Shoal
  • Experienced Dive Master & Skipper
  • Boat Fuel for the Day
  • Cylinder & Weights Included

Not Included in ANY Packages:

• Flights & Taxes
• Passports & Visas
• Personal Insurance
• Dive Gear (can be hired)
• Additional Meals & Beverages unless otherwise specified.
• Gratuities
• All additional afternoon activities and items of a personal nature


– R  3 800 per person for a day on the boat.

– R 450 for Full Scuba Gear Rental for the day, alternatively R 100 per item per day.

– RETURN TRANSFERS – Durban International Airport to Port St. John’s can be arranged on request.

– R1 500 per person per night sharing – Accommodation (Dinner, Bed & Breakfast).


  • Snacks & refreshments on the boat
  • Experienced Dive Master & Skipper
  • Boat Fuel for the Day
  • Cylinder & Weights Included

Please Contact Us for Tailor Made Pricing for groups, Should You Need Special Requirements kindly let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Scuba & Snorkel Options Available

Sardine Run Bookings

Have more questions about our Sardine Run 2019 Packages? Contact us for even more information.


Additional Add-ons Available

Aliwal Shoal

From R3000 per person sharing per day including dives.

Spend more time enjoying Aliwal Shoal and visiting the Top 10 dive sites of the world. There is so much to explore and see that you will never be disappointed spending more days diving here.

Aliwal shoal is part of a large offshore reef complex.

The narrow ridge parallel to the coastline about 3 kilometres (3.1 mi) offshore, more specifically referred to as the Crown, is the part usually referred to as Aliwal shoal, and this area is inside the sanctuary zone of the Marine Protected Area.

At the shallowest part, extending to within 6 metres of the surface, is at the north end of the Crown.

To the north the bottom slopes down relatively steeply, and to the sides the slope is less. The shoal is about 380 metres wide to the north, narrower to the south, and then spreads out towards the coast in the section known as the Ridge.

Average depth of the Crown is about 12.5 metre, and the Ridge is about 19.5 metres average depth, with a few isolated pinnacles

The shoal offers a variety of dives from open water, advanced and shark to wreck diving.

Although the boat ride could be long it is really a nice and different kind of dive every time you go out.

Aliwal shoal is a game park and hosts loads of BIG STUFF. There are more than 14 different dive sites and 2 wrecks to choose from, enough to keep you busy for a week or so – that is if you want to dive 2 dives a day, every day!!

The different sites also depend on the current and weather conditions, thus it is better to choose when you are here.

We can’t guarantee sharks on the reef, but on Aliwal Shoal you never know what is possible!

Tented Big 5 Safari Adventure – 3 Nights

R13 500 per person sharing  (Full Board and Tranfers incl)

“Situated in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve, a conservancy offering 20 000 acres of pristine, malaria-free bushveld.

The reserve is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah, hippo and over 30 species of plains game. Nature lovers will enjoy the area’s biodiversity, with Thornveld and majestic Acacia trees complementing extensive grasslands which mirror the plains of Central Africa.

The abundant natural water system, with perennial rivers and the beautiful waterfall and cascades on the Sundays River, makes for a unique sanctuary, attracting several rare bird species and an enviable array of raptors and vultures.

Feast your senses on the magnificent sights, sounds and smells of this untouched African bush. With every dawn, renew your bond with nature as you embark on a safari with your experienced and knowledgeable field guide.”

The following is included during your 3 Nights in Nambithi Game Reserve – Tented Accommodation stay. 

– All game reserve fees
– Welcome drink on arrival
– Light Lunch (sometimes a la carte and sometimes buffet) – depends on the occupancy on the day
– 3 Hour Afternoon Game Drive
– Dinner (alternating between 3 course set menu’s and buffet style boma dinners)
– Bed
– 3 Hour Morning Game Drive
– Breakfast (sometimes a la carte and sometimes buffet) – depends on their occupancy on the day
– Tea’s, Coffee, homemade Biscuits & Rusks from the Tea Station
– Malaria Free Game Reserve
– Big 5
– All Transfers are included to and from Umkomaas ending at the Durban International Airport

(Min of 4 guests needed in order to operate Safari add on)

Speak to us about other possibilities such as Mozambique, Rocktail Bay, Sodwana Bay and Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

Sardine Run Fact File

Occurring off the coast of Southern Africa every May through July, the Sardine Run sees billions of Southern African pilchard, Sardinops sagax, spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank before moving northwards along the east coast of South Africa.

The sheer number of sardines that spawn and migrate call a variety of apex predators to the area every year in a sardine feeding frenzy that is both grisly and gorgeous; a once in a lifetime visual spectacular.

The run occurs as a result of, and when, a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique, before branching out, off into open Indian Ocean.

Fun Fact: In terms of sheer biomass, researchers estimate that the Sardine Run could rival the great wildebeest migrations that occur in East Africa! Think about how many sardines it would take to weigh as much as just one wildebeest!

Less fun, more fact: The causes and potential hampering factors of the Sardine Run are not well understood even today. It is believed that if the water temperature doesn’t drop low enough, the Sardines will not run. In 2003, the Sardines failed to run for the third time in 23years. And, while 2005 saw a great run, 2006 marked a 4th non-run. With global warming impacting the temperatures of our oceans the world over, the days of the Sardine Run may well be running out…

The Sardine Run is truly an absolute wonder to behold – whether you are diving, snorkelling, staying on the boat, or observing the migration from the air, this is a photo opportunity unlike any other. With the shoal often stretching across about 10kms, it is also usually over a kilometer wide and 30m deep!

What to expect at the Sardine Run 2019: Predator Profiles

Dolphins, usually the common dolphin, Delphinus capensis, come out in droves to show off their hunting prowess and fancy fin work!

Experts have estimated that these super pods that come to feed on the migrating sardines have often reached almost 20 000 in number! When these dolphins round the unsuspecting sardines into bait balls, you’ll want to have your camera ready! These bait balls can be massive, up to 20m in diameter, and can extend to a depth of 10m!

You’ll want to have your finger on the trigger though, so to speak, as these bait balls aren’t sustainable or long lasting, and one will have formed and deteriorated into chaos again in minutes!

Sharks are also a feature at the Sardine Run, and they’re not likely to let the dolphins have all the fun. Sharks are also likely to take the opportunity to pick off a couple hundred or thousand sardines when the dolphins do the dirty work of rounding them up into bait balls.

The Copper Shark is one of the species most closely linked to the Sardine Run, and they’re not above stealing a meal right out of the dolphins’ mouths!

We must not, however, forget those who strike from above! A variety of bird life flocks to the sardine every year, hoping to pick off as much as, if not more than, they can chew! From the hyperactive Cape Gannet to some smaller chance-takers, our feathered friends won’t miss the Sardine Run 2018, why should you?

Finally, some of our water’s most beautiful and majestic whale species can be found in the vicinity of the run every year, despite the fact that many of them don’t actually join in on the run; at least not in the same way that our apex predators do. Keep a keen eye out for Humpback, Southern Right, and Minke whales!

Predators as Predictors

Researchers believe that they can predict, with limited accuracy, however, whether or not the sardines will run in any given year based on the presence of predators in the area leading up to winter months.

Predators that predictors keep an eye out for include sharks and large game fish, common dolphins, particularly when they can be observed inshore along the east coast, and finally, the presence of the Cape Gannet is most closely associated with sardine presence along the Eastern Cape and KZN coastline.

Fun Fact: While the common dolphin is highly involved in, and a marker of the coming of the Sardine Run, the resident bottlenose dolphin does not appear to associate with the Sardine Run in any way. The bottlenose dolphin is thus, unfortunately, not useful in helping researchers predict sardine presence or the likelihood of an annual run taking or failing to take.

Sardine Run Schedule For 2019

(This itinerary is only an example and will be adjusted accordingly)

Day 1

Arrival into King Shaka International Airport and Transfer to Umkomaas.

Your first day on the Sardine Run package trip can be spent diving Aliwal Shoal and exploring the reef, after which ScubaCo will treat you to a baited shark dive! On the reef dive you can look forward to spotting whales, dolphins, Manta Rays, you name it!

We always make sure to choose the best spot on the day, and may even be able to schedule a wreck dive, conditions permitting. Then, in terms of the shark specific dive, Aliwal Shoal is home to the migratory Ragged Tooth Sharks, as well as Blacktip Sharks, Dusky Sharks, and the elusive Tiger Shark!

Here at ScubaCo we use only eco-friendly and approved baiting methods – we will lay a “scent slick” of fish oils and chum in the water to attract sharks to the area, after which we lower the bait drums into the water, drawing the sharks to you and the drums for the duration of your shark interaction.

After an exhilarating day watching sharks, you’ll be settled into 32 on Harvey, ScubaCo’s very own Guesthouse in Umkomaas.  

More details:
All rooms are en-suite with modern bathroom facilities. Rooms either have queen size or twin beds to suit your requirements. Modern wetroom and a fabulous entertainment area.

Day 2

Transfer to Port St. John’s River Lodge

The transfer to Port St. John’s River Lodge is usually about a 4 and a half hour drive from Umkomaas, and our team will meet you on your arrival and give you a full briefing on how things will run for the duration of your Sardine Run experience stay with us.

You will be booked into gorgeous up market accommodation,  ideally situated along the banks of the Umzimvubu River. All rooms, each with an en-suite bathrooms are serviced and equipped with all the immediate luxuries of modern day living. Enjoy a breakfast buffet and fully licensed restaurant for dinner. Laze away next to the sparkling heated pool over looking spacious, lush lawns while listening to the river meandering to the ocean. After a day spent on the Sardine Run, star gazing is an easy way to pass a laid back evening, where you can rest up, relax, and replenish your reserves for the next sea days which will be spent amidst the excitement of the Sardine Run!

Bring your camera along for some awesome photo opportunities of sharks, Humpback Whales, dolphins, and the sardines of course!

Day 3 – Day 7

Full Water Days Sardine Rune 2019.

You will have an experienced dive guide with you for your safety, and will spend days 3 – 7 experiencing the majesty of the Sardine Run. Your cylinder and weights will be provided.

Because we received detailed updates on marine life movement every morning, we are able to take you to wherever the action is happening on any given day!

Conditions permitting, you will spend days 3 – 7 constantly in and out of the water, snorkelling, diving, and generally experiencing the wonder that is the Sardine Run – you’ll have to be quite fit to keep up though! Those fish move fast!

After each sea day you will have the opportunity to relax at the lodge, or enjoy a local excursion if you’re up for it. Evenings are spent having dinner and enjoying a few drinks with our team and guests, chatting about the days adventures as well as what the coming days will bring. Overnight at the lodge and be ready and fresh for the following day’s action.

Day 8

Transfer to King Shaka International airport for flights after 4pm.

After an early start you will be on the road back to Durban’s King Shaka International airport. Please ensure your flights home depart later than 4pm.

scubaco diving & travel -sardine run 2018

What’s Included:

  • Return Transfers (King Shaka Airport / Aliwal Shoal / Port St. John’s / back to King Shaka Airport)
  • 1 Night Accommodation in Umkomaas Dinner & Breakfast
  • 1 Reef Dive at Aliwal Shoal
  • 1 Baited Shark Dive at Aliwal Shoal
  • 6 Nights Accommodation in Port St John’s incl. Dinner & Breakfast
  • 5 Days Sardine Run Diving
  • Cylinder Rental & Air-Fill
  • Weight Belts & Weights

What’s Not Included?

  • 1 Month Marine Park Dive Permit
  • Flights & Taxes
  • Passports & Visas
  • Personal Insurance
  • Dive Gear (Can be hired)
  • Lunches, Dinners & Beverages
  • Gratuities
  • All additional activities & items of a personal nature

Please Note: The minimum requirement for Sardine Run 2019 is Open Water Diver (or equivalent) with at least 150+ Dives, unless the “snorkeling only” option is chosen. *Please Note that a reasonable level of fitness is required in order to fully enjoy the Sardine Run experience.

What are you waiting for? The Sardine Run 2019 is a life-altering experience you don’t want to miss out on! For more information, or to learn more about Aliwal Shoal dives, shark interactions, and shark diving, why not browse our website.

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