Advanced Dive Spots of Sodwana

5-Mile Ribbon Reef

Average depth: 15 m  
Maximum depth: 20 m 

The Ribbon Reef in Sodwana Bay looks like a string of rocky formations placed in a ribbon-like pattern and has large sand patches on which rays camouflage themselves.

©Jean Tresfon
A school of Snappers.

The reef has an abundance of fish life and many juveniles can be seen hiding beneath the table coral and in the crevices. Many different species of triggerfish, blue-and-yellow fusiliers, big eyes and kingfish were seen on different parts of the reef. Spotted rock cod, boxfish, a round ribbontail ray and green turtles are often seen.

The coral life consists mostly of extensive beds of staghorn coral, huge plate corals and various soft corals such as thistle coral, fleshy soft coral and anemones, with two-bar clownfish standing guard. The reef is mostly untouched and is suited for the more advanced diver. This reef is truly different from Two Mile Reef in the sense that there are more game fish and the fish in this area are relatively tame.

5-Mile Uniform Reef

Average depth: 22 m  
Maximum depth: 30 m

This reef is quite flat with wide patches of scattered coral and sand patches around them. It takes its name from the way the shape of the contoured coral resembles a lettuce with thousands of leaves spread out in a uniform pattern. This reef is a kingdom of juveniles, with chocolate dips in their thousands, small triggerfish, damsels, soldierfish and various types of goldies everywhere to be seen.

There are also potato bass, butterflyfish, tiger angels and coral beauties hiding under the coral formations. Although this is a deep reef, it is just as exquisite as the shallower reefs and its unique beauty is definitely worth visiting.

7-Mile Reef

©Johan Boshoff
A Feather star at Wagon Wheels Reef.

Average depth: 14 m  
Maximum depth: 20 m

Just imagine – a rocky mountain on the ocean floor; large overhangs with deep caves in which anything could be lurking… The scenery here is breathtaking, especially on days when the water is crystal clear and the visibility almost endless. The most beautiful of all is, a landmark on this reef, the little green coral tree on one of the ledges.

An encounter with potato bass, honeycomb moray eels and leaf fish can almost be guaranteed. The coral life on this reef consists mostly of leather and hard coral. Sponges are also to be seen. The fish life includes yellow trumpetfish, coachmen, Moorish idols, kingfish, knifejaws, snappers, fusiliers and much more. This is an excellent dive to book next time you visit Sodwana.

9-Mile Reef

©Johan Boshoff
A nudibranch, or Seal Slug.

Average depth: 18 m 
Maximum depth: 25 m 

The dramatic scenery of Nine Mile offers drop-offs, pinnacles and big coral trees. A few swim-throughs and overhangs add to the experience for the adventurous diver. This reef hosts the only species of free-swimming nudibranchs in Maputaland which can be found on the drop-off along with black coral, green-wire corals and Gorgonian sea fans.

The coral tree is home to a number of species of small reef fish, including sea goldies and damsels. You can also expect to see an abundance of tropical fish, hard and soft coral, sponges, Moray eels, large schools of pelagic fish, potato bass, turtles - Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback - and, depending on the time of year, whales - Southern Right and Humpback, whale sharks and dolphins. Due to its distance from the launch site, this reef is not dived as often as the more accessible ones and is in excellent condition.

Deep Sponges

©Jacques Marais
Early morning dive at Sodwana Bay.

Average depth: 28 m 
Maximum depth: 30 m

This is a rather flat reef with a few sponges, starfish and rock formations. The marine life encountered on this reef includes game fish, pufferfish, boxfish, triggerfish and clown triggers. The few rocks here are covered in marine growth with very few corals to be seen – mostly sponges and whip corals. This is a dive spot for advanced scuba divers.

Roonie's Reef

©Johan Boshoff
Moray eel.

Average depth: 26 m 
Maximum depth: 32 m

This reef has deep overhangs and gullies surrounded by sand patches, and it was the only reef in Sodwana where one yellow and two red thorny seahorses (Hippocampus histrix) were found.

Varieties of hard and soft coral can be found but one of the reef ’s stand out features is the huge black coral tree with the resident longnose hawkfish. A number of cleaning stations with cleaner shrimps can also be found here. Reef fish are common in the area with sweepers and cardinal fish in the caves and overhangs.

Bikini Reef

©Jacques Marais
Ragged-tooth Shark.

Average depth: 15 m 
Maximum depth: 22 m 

This is a relatively flat reef with a few hollows on the side and some drop-offs, all of which are situated in a huge sand patch.

The reef life here is very interesting with cleaning stations in some of the hollows and garden eels in the sand patches. The coral consists mostly of hard corals, although there are some soft coral, but not as much as on some of the other reefs. Various tropical reef fish are found here and others, such as scorpionfish, lionfish, rays, fusiliers and reef sharks are often sighted on this reef.

By Johan Boshoff