For the last week I have been diving in Sodwana Bay, South Africa. In total I was able to get in 13 dives. There are a number of reefs each named by the distance out: 2 mile, 3 mile, 5 mile, 6 mile, 7 mile and 9 mile. I made it to each of the outer reefs at least once with the rest being on 2 mile. On 2 mile reef there is 10+ different sites so there was always something different to see.
The diving was done from small rigid inflatable boats. The gear is loaded up and tied in the centre of the boat on the beach. With the divers on each side of the boat a tractor pushes the it into the water. After pulling it enough into the water everyone hops onto the boat. The skipper has to carefully time the exit from the beach between the waves coming into the bay. Depending on the day the ride to the dive site can be on calm water or a stomac churning ride through 2-3 meter swells. On the calmer days the first dive was usually at one of the reefs further out. With rougher seas we would dive a bit deeper to avoid some of the surge. Once at the dive site we would finish suiting up and all at once back roll into the water.
This was some of the more challenging diving I’ve done. Depending on the depth there was usually a decent amount of surge. On the rougher days it would push you 5-10 metres back and forth. This meant I had to really pay attention to the surrounding reef to avoid getting pushed into the coral. After a few dives I started to get used to it. The surge also caused me a few problems with sea sickness. One thing I had forgotten was to pick up something for sea sickness before I left but luckally the dive shop on the beach had some. After the second day I didn’t have any more problems.
The topography of the different reefs varied quite a bit. Some were fairly flat while others had swimthroughs or a wall with sandy bottom. There is a huge diversity of marine life one the reefs. There were dozens of different kinds of fish, 3-4 different rays, eels, some sharks as well as dolphins. Some of my favorites were the clownfish, manta rays, potato cod, honeycomb rays, and dolphins.
Sunday morning the ocean was nice and clam enough to go to 9 mile. Halfway to the dive site we stopped where there was a pod of at least 10 dolphins in the surf. For about 10-15 minutes we snorkeled with the dolphins. A number of times 6 of them swam close together right past me. They were quite playful and inquisitive. I don’t have any pictures because I forgot my camera back in my room at the lodge.
There was one quite brave clown fish that swam right up to my mask and tried to stare me down. He stayed there swiming back and forth for about a minute before returning back down to his anemone. On the last dive of the trip we had a potato cod that followed the group around for around 20 minutes like a dog. He would swim close by checking us out with his big eyes. I’ve got a couple pictures of him that I’ll post later.
After the dives the skipper would pull our BCD/Tanks back on board before we climbed in. There was always lolipops for the ride back. Getting back to the shore was almost as challenging as heading out. The skipper would time it between waves and the boat was driven right up onto shore. The tractor would pull it up a bit further to be unloaded then turn it around to get ready for the next dive.
A majority of the other divers were from South Africa with the exception of the group of 48 divers in a group from a Toronto school that were there for the first few days of my visit. Friday was a public holiday so the weekend was really busy with people coming for the long weekend. It was quite busy for the three days but really quieted back down on Monday.
I still have to go through and edit my photos so hopefully I’ll post some of them in the next few days. To give my self some time between diving and climbing the mountain this afternoon I headed inland to a game reserve for 4 days on safari.