The 21 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa

The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


If you’ve been hard pressed to find a single site that’ll sum up for you the best scuba diving locations in Africa by country, you’ve finally found your way to the right place!

Because the African continent is so massive, and its coasts encounter more than one ocean, almost every country’s coastal waters have their own unique features for you to enjoy and to explore!

Africa is bordered in different places by the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea!

That’s a whole host of unique underwater biomes for you as a scuba diver to explore!

Keep reading to find out where you can expect to meet everything from manta rays, to humpback whales!

If you’ve just been dying to see leatherback turtles nesting, or ragged tooth sharks outside of an aquarium, keep reading to find out exactly where you need to be to see these miracles of the briny blue with your own two eyes!


South Africa

South Africa is one of the premier scuba diving locations on the African continent.

Not only do our coastlines boast exclusive access to witnessing annual miracle migrations such as the yearly sardine run, but you will also be in the prime spot to witness the squid run!

From wreck dives to freshwater diving, diving with raggies to swimming with sea turtles, scuba diving in South Africa really gives you a lot of bang for your buck with our incredibly biodiverse coastlines and oceans.

Must-sees include:

– The sardine run
– The squid runs
– Our amazing predators of the deep, the Great White sharks
– Our gorgeous underwater kelp forests in Cape Town
– Humpback whales
– Leatherback turtle nesting
– Southern Right Whales
– Ragged-tooth sharks in their natural habitat at Aliwal Shoal!
– Aliwal Shoal


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


Here at ScubaCo we are absolutely gaga for Aliwal Shoal, and who wouldn’t be?

Home to some of the best and most biodiverse dive sites in the world, the Aliwal Shoal boasts dive sites ranging from wreck dives to diving raggie alley!

For more information on diving the Aliwal Shoal’s many Southern Reef spots, you can visit our in-depth article on the subject here.

1. Sardine Run

The annual Sardine Run is an absolute marine miracle to behold!

Yearly, these slippery silver fish migrate in monstrous schools, attracting super pods of dolphins, as well as massive amounts of sharks to the area.

The Transkei and Kwazulu Natal coastline transforms into a veritable smorgasbord of marine life passing through, and observing this massive marine migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

If you’d like to experience the Sardine Run with ScubaCo, or find out more about what one can expect from the Sardine Run, you can visit our dedicated Sardine Run page here.

2. Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay off the coast of Kwazulu Natal is like another Aliwal Shoal, boasting numerous dive sites from which to observe everything from game fish and predators of the deep to sea turtles who visit to lay their eggs on the beach during the summer months!

With world-famous dive sites like Uniforms and Hotspots, Sodwana Bay is one of the best dive spots on the South African coast!

3. Smitswinkel Bay

The ultimate dive site for casual wreck-loving divers and technical divers alike, Smitswinkel Bay is located on the Eastern side of the Cape Peninsula and is home to five of Cape Town’s best wreck dive sites.

These five wrecks form an artificial reef, and tech divers can push themselves to the limit and explore all five wrecks in one dive.

This feat is colloquially called and fondly referred to as ‘the Smits Swim’.



Gorgeous Mozambique’s coastline is home to that majestic meme-worthy sea flap-flap, the manta ray!

If you have always wanted to see these gentle giants up close, Mozambique is the place to be!

You will also be able to witness the miracle that is getting up close and personal with whale sharks!

Mozambican must-sees include:

– Whale Sharks
– Manta Rays
– Humpback Whales
– Turtles


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Ponta do Ouro

Home to a number of jaw-droppingly beautiful and exhilarating dive sites, Ponta do Ouro is all coconut palms and white sand beaches inviting you to come and explore the ocean world next door!

Diving Ponta do Ouro, which is a relatively new diving spot, means the chance to meet sharks, big game fish, dolphins, potato bass, scorpion fish, sea turtles, and hosts of other tropical fish.

This is a lovely summer dive with water temperatures averaging in at about twenty-five degrees celsius!

2. Pemba

With dive sites such as The Gap and Farol Ledge dive, this is the experienced diver’s dream diving location.

The Gap is an incredible wall dive with a coastal shelf that drops straight down some hundred and twenty meters!

Sunfish and Devil Rays are known to hang out near The Gap, and game fish frequently visit the area in search of their next meal, so this spot is a must-see for breathtaking natural architecture and mesmerising marine life!

3. Tofo

Tofo’s most famous dive site is Manta Reef, where these gorgeous creatures visit three distinct cleaning stations where you can observe them being cleaned overhead by goldies, cleaner wrasse, and butterflyfish.

A must-visit if you’re looking to explore the best dive sites in Mozambique.



You don’t need to make it to Mozambique to meet the Whale Shark, that is if you’re happy to go in search of them in Kenyan waters instead!

Kenya is probably one of the coolest places in the world to go cave diving, and you can even spot Barracuda off Barracuda reef! While cave diving you can expect to see your fill of refugee eels, as well as grouper and barracuda!

You may even spot a rare Zebra Shark diving off the coast of Kenya!

Kenyan Must-Sees:

– Whale Sharks
– Cave Diving
– Barracuda
– Eels
– Dolphins
– Zebra Sharks


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Watamu Marine National Park

Watamu Marine National Park is home to a wide variety of dive sites for the novice and experienced open water diver.

This marine park is an important nesting ground for the endangered Green Sea Turtle, and they are often seen around the reef at many of the dive sites in the confines of the marine park.

White-tip Reef Sharks and surgeonfish are also frequently encountered by divers in the Watamu area.

2. Mtwapa and Barracuda Reef

Further south than the Watamu National Park, Mtwapa and Barracuda Reef provide unrivalled opportunities to get up close and personal with whale sharks in Kenyan waters.

The Vuma Caves in this area also provide excellent cave diving opportunities.

3. Kisite Mpunguti Marine Reserve

South of Mombasa, this area has some great dive sites where you are all but guaranteed to see some of the largest Manta Rays off the East coast of Africa.

You may also spot the rare Zebra Shark and some barracuda!



Outside the borders of South Africa, your best best for observing leatherback turtle nesting in the wild is on the coasts of beautiful Tanzania.

A wide variety of macro and giant marine life call the coasts of this African country home, and you can expect to see everything from parrotfish to hammerhead sharks and even wild tuna!

Tanzanian Must-Sees Include:

– Moray Eels
– Hammerhead sharks
– Tuna
– Parrotfish
– Leatherback Turtles
– Whale Sharks


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Lake Tanganyika (Freshwater)

Tanzanian scuba diving is not all about sea diving, but a freshwater diver’s dream. Diving Lake Tanganyika means diving the most biodiverse lake in the entire world.

2. Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s premier saltwater dive site, Mnemba Atoll, is fondly referred to as the self-proclaimed tropical fish capital of East Africa.

This atoll system is home to a wide variety of rare reef fish, and you could even spot larger marine life like reef sharks, tuna and a variety of rays when diving in the Mnemba area.

Scuba diving in Zanzibar is a real paradise experience.



Not only the name of a really cool animated film for children, Madagascar is a massive island nation off the coast of southeast Africa.

Home to one of the world’s longest continues coral reefs, this island’s waters boast numerous opportunities for rare and unique marine encounters.

Must-Sees Include:

– Manta Rays
– Coral Reefs
– Whale Sharks
– Humpback Whales
– Turtles


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Nosy Be

Situated off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be is the hub of all the cool dive spots around all the tiny islands adjacent including Nosy Komba, Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Sakatia, Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Iranja.

Here you can expect to encounter turtles, manta rays, stingrays and even big predators during the plankton bloom seasons!

Diving Nosy Tanikely during November and December may even result in a chance Whale Shark sighting!



Zimbabwe may have had its own tales of political and economic turmoil, and strife, but no-one gave the diving sites the message and their waters continue to flourish and are just begging to be further explored!

The cave diving opportunities in Zimbabwe are a technical diver’s dream, and you could spend forever getting pleasantly lost in their underwater wonderlands.

Zimbabwe Must-Dos:

– Cave Diving


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa - scubaco


1. Chinhoyi Caves

Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi Caves are a cave diver’s dream come true.

A system of underwater limestone caves, the water is unusually clear and novice and technical divers alike can explore these systems of underwater caverns and tunnels.

There are tons of incredible dive sites in the Chinhoyi Caves, one of which is littered with bones, and another with coins as people have tossed them in in the past in an effort to make their dreams come true!



Freshwater diving in Malawi is on many a diver’s bucketlist, and for good reason!

It is said that this African country is the best place in the world to freshwater dive! In Lake Malawi you can expect to see an incredible range of aquatic life as the lake is home to more than 500 species of fish!

It is home to more fish species than any other body of freshwater in the world!

There are also catfish and dolphins in the lake!

Malawi is a must-visit if you want to experience the best freshwater diving opportunity on earth!


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Lake Malawi

Diving Lake Malawi is a must if you’re visiting this gorgeous African country!

Avid freshwater divers the world over are always singing Lake Malawi’s praises and with good reason!

With close to one thousand different species of freshwater fish living in its depths, Lake Malawi is one of the deepest and most biodiverse lakes in the world!

There is even a penetrable wreck and opportunities for advanced divers to do tunnel swim-throughs.



Diving Lake Tanganyika is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Because of the sheer age of the lake, the fish species that have evolved and that still inhabit this lake are ecologically unique as the lake is an isolated, landlocked body of water.

The lake is so big it spans four countries, and the Zambian coast of Lake Tanganyika is still being explored.

Freshwater dive Lake Tanganyika in Zambia and be part of the exploration effort!


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. Lake Tanganyika

Zambia is a landlocked central African country with 18 magnificent waterfalls including the world-famous Victoria Falls.

Zambia actually has the most water resources by volume in the whole southern African region with five huge lakes and plenty of rivers.

Diving Lake Tanganyika is a transcendental experience. It is thought to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and is the second deepest.

There are a couple of hundred endemic fish species, and pristine beaches on which to relax after you’ve explored their home ground, or waters as the case may be.


Cape Verde

The Cape Verde islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Trevor Sanford for PADI’s blog, “It has been said that Cape Verde’s archipelago is one of the last uncontaminated paradises of our planet”

Cape Verde Attractions:

– Turtles
– Sperm Whales
– Manta Rays
– Moray Eels
– Humpback Whales
– A wide variety of sharks


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


A deep sea archipelago featuring ten inhabited islands, there is about as much to see on the Cape Verde islands as there is to see off their coasts and underwater, and that is to say, a lot!

There are countless dive sites in the Cape Verde islands with dives currently possible off the coast of three of the ten inhabited islands:

1. Sal

This island has the most accessible dives and more inexperienced divers who still want to see all that this underwater wonderland has to offer would be best off starting their diving adventures in Sal.

2. Boa Vista

The haven of the areas large pelagic species, Boa Vista is the newest addition to the Cape Verde islands’ tourist offering.

3. Santiago

A wreck divers delight, there are more than fourteen wrecks off the coast of Santiago just waiting to be explored!  


Saint Helena

Known as the most remote island in the world, flights to Saint Helena have only been available as of late 2017.

Prior to this access by air, access was only by ship! Now you can fly from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport to St Helena with flights departing every Saturday.

This undisturbed piece of paradise is the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte who spent his final days in exile on the island.

Diving off the coast of Saint Helena is an opportunity to explore some of the many wrecks off her coast, as well as encounter some whale sharks!

With a population of under five thousand, Saint Helena is a piece of paradise in the Atlantic.


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa



Sao Tome and Principe


The 11 Best Scuba Diving Locations In Africa


1. The Northern Wrecks

If you hadn’t done your research you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sao Tome and Principe has an incredibly dangerous coastline, but, well-informed as you are, you’ll know that the ships that make up The Northern Wrecks were sunk on purpose to create an artificial ship graveyard-cum-reef!

Expect to see a wide variety of marine life including octopi!

2. Santana Arch

The Santana Arch in the Santana region of Sao Tome from which it gets its name is not a true underwater cave as there is always light pouring in from one end or the other, but this underwater archway beneath which you can swim and keep an eye out for hiding critters and crustaceans is a must-see for anyone visit Sao Tome and Principe.

3. Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is a seahorse-lover’s dream!

This dive site is also home to electric rays and moray eels!

This site is home to both marine life that is typically Atlantic and tropical so expect a bit of a transoceanic smorgasbord!  


For more information on diving in South Africa, don’t hesitate to Contact Us ScubaCo for the best scuba diving trips!