Yesterday we had the privilege of diving one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal. The dive site is located about two hours south of Durban in the small town of Umkomaas. Aliwal Shoal was named after an 1849 wreck and features both hard and soft corals, plus an abundance of reef fish and Grey nurse sharks, known by the local as “raggies” who migrate near the coast to breed every summer and spring.
To access the dive site, we loaded up all of our gear into a rigid-inflatable boat (RIB), and raced across the bar into open waters. Our first dive stop was a rocky area with lots of small caves and soft corals. After a back roll entry we descended to 40″ and swam over the reef, observing Grey nurse sharks, rays, Loggerhead turtles, Scorpion fish, and dozens of different types of reef fish.
During our surface interval, we saw female Humpback whales breaching as they headed up to Tanzania to give birth in it’s lagoons. On our second dive we found a big Round ray, Moray eel, groupers, and more turtles. Both dives had lots of surge which can be tiring but also part of the fun. One of the most exciting parts of the dive was the trip back to the beach. In order to get back to shore, the captain drove the boat at full speed towards the beach and flew it up onto the sand. A recovery crew was waiting for us and pulled the boat back onto it’s trailer for the ride back to Scuba Addicts lodge.
Next up is watching the Sardine run off Port St. John’s and the big animals that follow the annual migration- dolphins, tuna, sharks, and sea birds. While I’m traveling, our PADI- certified Divemasters will be conducting our daily scuba diving tours as usual back in Seattle.