STAY AT CORAL DIVERS
After a short-cut trip on the Red Sea (due to the outbreak of Covid-19 … you can read about it here), we just felt that scuba diving (and beaches) wasn’t done for the year.
Fortunately, at the beginning of December 2020, South Africa was only at Level 1 of Covid-19 and we took a chance of booking a week at Sodwana Bay with Coral Divers.
Where is Sodwana Bay?
Any serious scuba diver will know … it’s a bay in South Africa on the Kwazulu Natal north coast, between St. Lucia and Lake Sibhayi. You will also find that this bay is in the Sodwana Bay National Park and yes, a very popular diving destination.
Our flight, approximately 2 hours from Cape Town to Durban (the closest airport to Sodwana Bay), was scheduled for 06:00 … which meant we had to stay at a hotel close to Cape Town International Airport … Covid-19 regulations required us to be at the airport already at 04:00 😲.
We’ve booked one night in Hotel Verde, a stone through away from the airport. That was a good decision … we were already in a relaxing mood even before we’ve boarded our flight to our holiday destination!
Our flight on FlySafair was comfortable (even though, due to Covid-19 regulations, no food was served on board and all passengers had to keep their masks on at all times). We’ve arrived just before 08:00 at a quiet King Shaka International Airport in Durban – the effect of Covid-19 very visible.
We’ve quickly made our way to the car rentals to get our car for the week. It’s around 350km from Durban to Sodwana Bay and a trip that should take around 4 hours … but within the last 90km, from Hluhluwe, there are a lot of cows and goats in the road and you really need to drive carefully … so, this trip eventually took us around 5 hours!
Arrival at Coral Divers:
We’ve been last to Sodwana Bay in 2011, but it was now the first time that we’ve stayed with Coral Divers. When we’ve done our booking, we’ve chosen to stay with them, because they are within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which make access to Sodwana Bay beach just so much easier … but now we also know, that besides this, it’s also a wonderful resort and dive centre!
And not a resort as in the word “luxurious”, because there are no multi-storey hotel rooms and a wide selection of restaurants and cocktails bars … no, it’s rustic and in the middle of a bushy area – a PADI 5-star resort & dive centre, which is family run and owned for over 25 years … a real divers’ paradise!
The staff were amazing – especially during this difficult time of the Corona virus. They’ve tried their best to ensure that everyone had a great time, whilst also meeting all the Covid-19 requirements.
The great thing about Coral Divers are that you can either prepare your own food (they’ve got this amazing “braai” area, also called barbecue to our overseas visitors ☺️) and one stunning kitchen! But if you want to sit back and relax, spoil yourself with their menu which consists of great meals – anything from burgers, pizzas or seafood dishes!
Other than people, we also had “visitors” with long tails … monkeys were a familiar sight during our week at Coral Divers! They were constantly playing with each other in the trees between our cabins … and were very sneaky when we humans had our food on the tables … 😉
So, by now, you probably wonder why do we call this a diving holiday, if you have not seen pictures of a beach or any diving!
Let’s go to the beach then …
Coral Divers offer different diving packages and every evening at around 19:00 there was a dive briefing to discuss the different dive sites of the next day.
But hang on, before we go to the beach …
We were quite a couple of kilometers from the beach. So, you can either take your own car and drive down to the beach (or walk – that will take you around 30 minutes) … or you can take Coral Divers’ shuttle … which was a great experience, so we’ve opted every day for the shuttle …
Ok, now it’s time for the beach 😄
You will find many diving operators here on the beach. Coral Divers has a specific area where they welcome all their divers (under a roof and out of the fierce sun!) Every day, they are packing out chairs for divers (and their families) and it’s from here that all the diving excursions take place … really well organised.
Berto has done 2 dives each day during the morning (that’s normally when the conditions are good). A dive instructor or dive master would then lead each dive and show them all the great dive sites.
The beach at Sodwana Bay is not your typical beach resort … you will only find a take-away café, bathrooms and a gift shop with beach wear. A pristine beach without all the tourist entertainment – totally amazing!
The amazing thing about a holiday like this, is that you make many new friends. We’ve enjoyed almost every evening with new friends and over a bottle of good wine, we had great conversations and a really good time.
We’ve concluded our week-long holiday at Sodwana Bay, with a great dinner with some of our new friends at Mseni Beach Lodge close to Coral Divers.
Oh yes, and on our way back to the airport, we’ve met our other “new friends” again … at the same spot as when we’ve arrived a week ago … almost as if they were waiting for us to say goodbye 😊
In our next post, we will show you all the amazing photo’s that Berto took under water, at the different dive sites 👍🏻