The Aliwal Shoal Southern Reefs
Diving the pristine Southern Reefs off Scottburgh in the KZN region of beautiful South Africa means diving one of the top 10 dive sites in the world! Visibility can range from average to excellent and, while the currents can range from mild to strong, if you did your PADI Scuba Diving Certification in South African waters, this won’t be anything new to you, and you have nothing to fear!
If you’re travelling from abroad to dive this world-renowned site, don’t worry! Our qualified dive masters will tell you everything you need to know about navigating our stormy seas; your safety is our top priority, and we boast a 100% safety rating with absolutely no accidents or injuries recorded since we opened over 20 years ago!
Come dive the warm South Coast waters with us, here at ScubaCo, and experience water temperatures averaging 23 degree celsius, and the dive of a lifetime!
The Southern Reefs Dive Sites
Avg. Depth: 17m | Max. Depth: 23m
Half Acre has an average depth of 17m and a maximum depth of 23m. This area features a flat piece of reef that is encroached upon by absolutely, mind blowingly huge boulders and gullies. People who marvel at Stonehenge have obviously never seen the boulders at Half Acre!
They’ll take your breath away! A slightly more risky open water dive, this Southern Reefs dive site’s rock formations can cause divers to lose site of the divemaster fairly easily. This is why we recommend that divers stay in a close group, and keep eyes on the dive master at all times – don’t worry, he or she will be looking out for you too!
If you’re keen to see soft coral of every kind imaginable, you’ve got to join us and dive Half Acre! The coral on the reef is predominantly of the soft variety and surfaces are absolutely covered in seaweed with lots of nudibranchs. Half Acre is home to a wide variety of gorgeous tropical fish species, as well as crayfish which often hang out in small caves, crevices and under overhangs.
Natal catfish, Baitfish, and Trumpet Fish are also commonly sighted at Half Acre. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may even see some of the game fish which frequently zip round in the vicinity of Half Acre.
Avg. Depth: 19m | Max. Depth: 25m
Named for the number of different Cowrie species who have made this portion of the reef their home, Cowrie Reef has an average depth of 19m and a maximum depth of 25m. A predominantly sandy dive spot with boulders scattered like Sangomas bones on the ocean floor, Cowrie Reed is home to a couple of ledges and overhangs with small holes in the reef in which Triggerfish just love to snooze!
Cowrie Reef is the place to be if you’re all about big sea sponges, or cool coral like deadman’s finger! Also be on the lookout for the clouds of Goldies who typically hang around the green fern coral! Also featuring hard corals such as smooth horned coral and leather coral, Cowrie Reef is also known for the flounders that can be found hiding underneath the sand!
Avg. Depth: 18m | Max. Depth: 24m
With a maximum depth of 24m, Fern Reef averages an 18m depth and features rock wall formations with ledges and gullies amid sandy patches that surround the rocky reef. A relatively unexplored part of the reef, Fern Reef is an unspoilt underwater utopia, where the hard and soft corals are still in pristine condition, and the marine life is curious!
Expect to see schools of Kingfish, Potato bass, Bonitis, Hammerhead sharks, juvenile Clownfish, Boxfish and Scorpionfish!
Avg. Depth: 18m | Max. Depth: 25m
Don’t let the name put you off, Butchers is one of the coolest dives in the Southern Reefs, especially for turtle lovers! Why? Because the dive’s resident Loggerhead turtle is a frequent friendly face who visits divers in the area!
This loggerhead loves to sleep in one of the many caves and overhangs at Butchers, and is a beauty to behold! This reef north of Landers has an incredible wall-like formation that stands approximately 6m high; and the area is known for its boulders, rocks, crevices, gullies and geometric moray eels!
You will also see natal catfish, speckles shrimpfish, baitfish, and False Stonefish! Known as the “Juvenile Nursery”, the diversity of the marine life you’ll encounter at Butchers is close to unmatched!
Avg. Depth: 21m | Max. Depth: 31m
A nice deep dive, Landers has a max depth of 31m, but averages out at a more chilled 21m. Landers features a lone, massive pinnacle, many large boulders and resultant crevices and massive gullies with smaller sandy patches. An incredibly scenic dive, Landers’ features big caves and overhangs, and the reef is positively teeming with nudibranchs and tropical reef fish.
Dolphins are a common sight at Landers, and if you’re lucky you may even spot a Humpback whale or some game fish, like tuna, in the vicinity! Soft corals include deadman’s finger coral, thistle coral and branched black coral; and you should keep an eye out for the big green coral tree – truly a sight unlike any other! On this reef you’ll be able to spot a variety of super rare and amazing eels, as well as huge clouds of Goldies darting in and out of the maze of the black coral’s branches.
Avg. Depth: 20m | Max. Depth: 28m
Outside Landers is a wall-like reef that runs from North to South. There are many pinnacles to be see, which create a kind of safe haven or enclosure for marine life in the area; and the pinnacles stand out a good couple of metres above the rest of the reef!
With awesome swim-throughs and gullies, this deeper dive, clocking in at a max depth of 28m with an average depth of around 20m, means that you may experience some thermoclines diving Outside Landers, but you’ll still be able to spot Bluefin kingfish, while some tropical fish may also make an appearance. Crayfish often pop their heads out of their hiding places to say hello, and ragged-tooth sharks and batfish also frequent the area. With more soft than hard coral on this portion of the reef, Outside Landers features some stunning lettuce coral, sea urchins, and much, much more!
Avg. Depth: 23m | Max. Depth: 36m
A super deep 36 meters deep at its maximum depth, Allen’s cave has an average depth of only 23m. At Allen’s Cave the rock formations are such that they form a wall, with small ledges and gullies between sand patches that surround the rocky reef. The home of the White Kingfish, Allen is also’s Cave is home to Devil Firefish and Redfang Triggerfish. Moorish Idols, Snappers, and a host of other tropical fish call Allen’s Cave home, and the multiple kinds of coral and sea urchins to be seen at Allen’s Cave come in some of the most astounding colours! Bring your camera!
Avg. Depth: 23m | Max. Depth: 40m
Another bouldered dive site, Umzimai Wall is the Southern Reefs scuba diving home of the swim-through! There are massive crevices and gullies to swim through and on the inshore side there is a massive wall almost 20m high! There is also a cave on the northern side, and some really awesome ledges to explore! This dive gets deep, with a maximum depth of 40m! The average depth, however, is almost half that – only 23m.
This open water diving experience will expose you to big black coral trees, long, curled whip coral, and massive sea urchins, the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before! This dive is for experienced divers, and is not frequented as often as any of the other Southern Reef dive sites, so the marine life at Umzimai Wall is particularly inquisitive, and many of the fish species will swim right up to a diver to welcome this strange visitor to their underwater world! There are massive Moorish Idols at the wall, as well as snappers, model tobies, boxfish, Tiger Angelfish, and triggerfish!
If you would like to take advantage of this unique opportunity to dive the Southern Reefs; whether you’re looking to shark dive, or do a more scenic scuba dive, Contact Us here at ScubaCo today to set up your Southern Reefs diving adventure!
Book Your Diving Trip Today!
Call Us: 039 973 0002