DIVING – Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal (Part 1)

December 2020

OUR STAY AT CORAL DIVERS

After an interrupted trip on the Red Sea (due to Covid-19 – you can read about it here), we just felt that scuba diving and beaches were not done for the year.

Fortunately, South Africa was placed on Level 1 of Covid-19 at the beginning of December 2020 and we decided to book a week at Sodwana Bay with Coral Divers.

Where is Sodwana Bay?

Any South African scuba diver will be able to inform you that this is a bay in South Africa on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, between St. Lucia and the Sibhayi Lake. You will find this bay in the Sodwana Bay National Park – a very popular diving destination.

Our flight, approximately 2 hours from Cape Town to Durban (the nearest airport to Sodwana Bay), was scheduled for 06:00. Because it was so early, we decided to spend the night in a hotel near Cape Town International Airport. According to Covid-19 regulations, we already had to be at the airport at 04:00.

We booked one night in Hotel Verde which is just a stone’s throw from the airport. It was a good decision as we were already in a relaxing mood when we boarded our flight to our holiday destination.

Our room at Hotel Verde – with a BIG bed and amazing shower

Our flight on FlySafair was comfortable (although, due to Covid-19 regulations, no food was served on board and all passengers had to wear their masks at all times). We landed at a quiet King Shaka International Airport in Durban just before 08:00 – the effect of Covid-19 was still clearly visible.

We quickly walked to the car rental section to get our car for the week. It is approximately 350km from Durban to Sodwana Bay and a drive that should take approximately 4 hours. But on the last 90km (from Hluhluwe) there are many cows and goats in the road and you have to drive really carefully. Our drive ended up taking us about 5 hours.

Arrival at Coral Divers:

Our last visit to Sodwana Bay was in 2011. At that time we stayed in the small town of Sodwana Bay, but this time we decided to book our holiday with Coral Divers in the park. It is much easier to reach the beach as they are located within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. There is also a nice vibe among the guests – something we really liked.

I wouldn’t describe it as your typical ‘luxury’ resort as there are no multi-story hotels with a wide variety of restaurants and cocktail bars. It’s rustic and in the middle of a wooded area. This PADI 5 star resort and dive center is run by a family that has owned it for over 25 years. It’s a true diver’s paradise.

Beautifully paved walkways at Coral Divers
A bright swimming pool where you can relax after a day of scuba diving

The staff were amazing – especially during this difficult time of the Corona virus. They did their best to ensure that everyone had a good time, while also meeting all the Covid-19 requirements.

The great thing about Coral Divers is that you can prepare your own food (there is a wonderful “braai” area/barbecue), as well as a large kitchen. But if you just want to sit and relax, you can treat yourself by ordering a wide variety of meals from their restaurant – anything from salads, burgers, pizzas or seafood dishes.

The restaurant’s delicious hamburgers & chips

Apart from the regular people, we also had visitors with long tails. Monkeys are a familiar sight at Coral Divers. They were constantly playing with each other in the trees between our cabins and were very sneaky when we had food on the tables.

This mischievous one was ready for a “grab and go meal”

By now you’re probably wondering why we call it a diving holiday, if you haven’t seen pictures of a beach or any diving.

Let’s go to the beach then!

Coral Divers offers different dive packages and every evening at around 19:00 there was a dive briefing to discuss the different dive sites of the following day.

Divers at the dive briefing

But wait a minute, before we go to the beach …

We were a few kilometers from the beach. So, you can either take your own car and drive down to the beach or you can walk which will take you about 30 minutes. But there is also another option – you can take Coral Divers’ taxi to the beach. It was a fun experience and we enjoyed this ride every day.

Ok, now it’s time for the beach.

The beautiful beach of Sodwana Bay
The tractors assist in putting the divers’ boats in and out of the water

You will find many dive operators here on the beach. Coral Divers has a specific area where they welcome all their divers (under a roof and out of the hot sun). Every day they pack out chairs for divers (and their families) and it is from here that all the diving trips take place. It is really well organised.

Coral Divers’ site on the beach

Berto did 2 dives every day during the morning (this is usually when the weather conditions are good). A dive instructor or dive master leads each dive and takes them to all the amazing dive sites.

A tractor getting ready to assist a diving boat into the ocean

The beach at Sodwana Bay is not your typical beach resort. You’ll only find a takeaway café, bathrooms and a beachwear gift shop here. A pristine beach without all the tourist entertainment – absolutely amazing!

Sodwana Bay beach

On holidays like this you usually make a lot of new friends. We hung out with friends almost every night and exchanged very entertaining stories.

We ended our week long holiday at Sodwana Bay with a delicious dinner with some of our new friends at Mseni Beach Lodge close to Coral Divers.

Oh yes, and on the way back to the airport, we met our other “new friends” again. They were in the same place where we saw them a week ago – almost as if they were waiting for us to say goodbye.

A week later and here they are again

You can have a look at Berto’s underwater photos and read more about the diving, when you click here 👍🏻

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22 thoughts on “DIVING – Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal (Part 1)

  1. I am not a diver, but I would visit to see the beauty the cows in the road! There’s a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway (in California) where free-range cattle roam, and I’ve stopped to see cows both on the mountain side and the beach side! Love your photos! And, making new friends in new places is always fun, I agree! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

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