Best Snorkeling Spots in South Africa

©Roger de la Harpe
©Jean Tresfon

There is no shortage of marine diversity on South Africa’s beautiful and expansive coastline. With that in mind, there is also no shortage of exceptional snorkeling adventures!

From the warm waters of the KwaZulu-Natal coast to the breezy Atlantic shoreline, there are endless ways to go about seeing the underwater paradise that the country has to offer.

Although snorkeling is much less technical than diving, you should still take note of a few things: firstly, invest in a good pair of flippers (you can rent this at any seaside adventure company) a mask and snorkeling set, and if you are bracing cold waters, maybe a wetsuit too.

Secondly, remember to dive responsibly! Do not disturb the underwater creatures - just enjoy the experience. Lastly, there are lifeguards at most major beaches in SA, so your safety is always ensured.

Oceanic Family-fun

©Roger de la Harpe
©Roger de la Harpe

The world-renowned reef system of Aliwal Shoal is a premier snorkeling destination. Tropical fish and other intricate marine life are abound, so you’ll have lots of fun exploring the area.

Sodwana Bay is situated on the Elephant Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, offering avid snorkelers the opportunity to see over 1200 species of fish. Here, snorkeling is done all year round but the best conditions are in the summer months from November to May.

Protea Banks, just off the Shelly Beach in KZN is another worthwhile spot to check out. Hammerhead and ragged tooth sharks often roam the waters, and swimming around the beautiful coral reefs is a fun family activity. Further south, the Garden Route offers fantastic oceanic encounters. Knysna, Mossel Bay, Storms River and Plettenberg Bay have awesome shipwrecks and coral reefs to explore. 

Cape Town is the hub for Atlantic snorkeling, and is home to an array of species who frequent the waters of the cold Benguela current. The western part of False Bay is great for both beginner and experienced snorkelers, with coral reefs, cow sharks, seals, and cold water fish aplenty.

Miller’s Point is known for its gully sharks, cow sharks and puffader shy sharks. Snorkelers can explore the protected area from a boat, as shore access is not great. Simon’s Town has calm waters and kelp forests, where cow sharks reside. Shark Bay is also worth a snorkel, as you’ll most likely spot hundreds of gully sharks and cow sharks, as well as seals and other fish.

Other locations in SA that are great from snorkeling is St Lucia Wetland Park, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Hermanus, Cape Point and Camps Bay.

By Carla Lottering