Port Elizabeth diving
Port Elizabeth, known as the friendly city, is located on the shore of Algoa Bay (Nelson Mandela Bay) in Eastern Cape Province. It has some of South Africa’s best cold water dive sites with colorful reefs and varied marine life. You will enjoy Port Elizabeth's dive spots with their beautiful topography, wreck dives and island dives. Shore and boat diving is possible. The raggies, pajama sharks and rays are only few examples of what you can encounter at the dive sites in this area.
Always dive according to your level of training.
Never enter the water without checking with the local dive center for safety, additional information, level required for each dive site and without being accompanied by a professional.
All the information provided is purely informative for our readers and shouldn't be used as is to plan your immersion.
Average Water surface temperature: From 15°C to 21°C (59° F to 69°F).
Visibility often averaging: From 26 to 49 feet (8 to 15 meters)
Coldest time: November to February
Warmest time: March to June
Possible to dive all year round.
Port Elizabeth is famous for its dazzling beaches and coast line; and for its various kinds of aqua life. The dive places in Port Elizabeth are divided into different areas, Outside the Bay, like Wild Side and Algoa Bay, Inside the Bay and the Islands.
The reefs inside offer spectacular diving and show a lot of marine life. There are breathtaking underwater gardens with colorful sea fans, lots of anemones, soft coral, crustaceans, nudibranchs and various fish. The diving here is suitable for both, novices and advanced divers, it's quite protected from currents. Encounters with leopard, pajama and ragged tooth sharks are common.
The outside reefs, like Wild Side are located more to the South. They are home to many marine species, from coral and invertebrates to different sharks. Here you can expect sometimes strong currents, but due to that a better visibility than inside. The dive sites are mostly recommended for advanced divers.
The Islands like St. Croix, Evans Peak and Riy Banks offer great dive sites.
Due to their exposed location, currents and depths these sites require an advanced diving qualification.
St. Croix is a protected marine reserve with many gullies, drop offs and caves with a lot of coulourful invertebrates and abundant fish life as well as different species of sharks. Evans Peak is located close to St. Croix and consists of one pinnacle that comes up to about 49 feet (15 meters) under the surface. Its walls are covered with soft coral and are full of fish, which is attracting the raggies.
Riy Banks' reef system offers superb drop-offs and walls. The visibility is usually good, but the conditions may be choppy at certain times. The depths go up to 98 feet (30 metres) and more. Often you can spot schoals of Game fish and encounter sharks.
These popular dive spots in Port Elizabeth and are definitely worth the trip.
Bird Island is inhabited by seals and penguins and this is why you will find also a lot of sharks close to the island. Although the main attractions here are the Great white sharks, ragged-tooth and sand tiger sharks that can be spotted as well.
There are more dive sites reachable by boat which provide excellent diving. Bell Buoy is a very popular spot, it is at a depth ranging from 15 to 65 feet (5 to 20 meters), it suits divers of all levels. Gullies, arches and pinnacles make this colorful site a habitat for raggies as well as many more marine species like octopus and numerous fish. Corals, gorgonias, hydroids and nudibranchs are great motives for underwater photographers.
There are some shallow dive sites here which are ideal for beginners. Most of these reefs have depths going from 6 to 26 feet (2 to 9 metres). Characterized by colourful sea fans, sponges and soft corals, these shallow reefs are easy to dive and snorkelers can also enjoy the underwater scenery. You may find some pinnacles just below the surface. Lots of starfish and pyjama sharks can be spotted.
For wreck lovers there are some wrecks near Port Elizabeth.
Cape Recife is a famous wreck dive site, it has few popular wrecks like the Fidela, an iron steamer that sank in 1873 on its way to Australia and the Sabina that sank in 1842. The depth is about 10 to 19 feet (3 to 6 meters), a bit off the coast going down to 32 feet (10 meters).
The Haerlem wreck was sunk in 1987 to built an artificial reef. It is at a depth of 59 to 68 feet (18 to 21 meters). Coral and sponges now cover the wreck. Sometimes in good visibility you can see the whole wreck. You may see pyjama sharks if you look into the portholes, but please note that penetration is not allowed.
Enjoy night dives at some of the shore dive sites. The depth range is from 6 to 55 feet (2 to 17 meters). Sponges, soft coral and sea fans are covering the bottom and you may see redbaits and occasionally octopus hiding there. An attractive reef is Philip’s reef; it is a large reef about 984 to 1640 feet (300 to 500 meters) wide. Overgrown with sea fans, sea-squirts and soft corals it is a great site for night dives and macro photography. The depth is from 26 to 55 feet (8 to 17 meters).