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

December 2020

OUR STAY AT CORAL DIVERS

After a short-cut trip on the Red Sea (due to 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 placed on 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 South African 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 this bay in the Sodwana Bay National Park, which is a very popular diving destination.

Our flight, approximately 2 hours from Cape Town to Durban (the closest airport to Sodwana Bay), was scheduled for 06:00am. Because it was so early, we decided to overnight at a hotel close to Cape Town International Airport … Covid-19 regulations required us to be at the airport already at 04:00am 😲.

We booked one night in Hotel Verde, a stone throw away from the airport. That was a good decision since we were already in a relaxing mood when we boarded our flight to our holiday destination!

Our comfortable room at Hotel Verde – with a HUGE bed and amazing shower!

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 arrived just before 08:00am at a quiet King Shaka International Airport in Durban – the effect of Covid-19 still clearly visible.

We 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:

Our last visit to Sodwana Bay was in 2011. Back then, we stayed in the small town of Sodwana Bay, but this time we decided to book our holiday with Coral Divers. It’s much easier to reach the beach as they are located inside the iSimangaliso Wetland Park … but now we also know, besides this, it’s a wonderful resort and dive centre!

And not a resort as in ‘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. This PADI 5-star resort & dive centre is family run and owned for over 25 years … a real divers’ 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 tried their best to ensure that everyone had a good time, while also meeting all the Covid-19 requirements.

The great thing about Coral Divers are that you can either prepare your own food (there is an amazing “braai” area – that’s barbecue 😉), as well as a huge 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!

The restaurant has the best burgers & chips

Other than 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 humans had our food on the tables.

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

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.

Divers arrive for a dive briefing at Coral Divers

But hang on, before we go to the beach …

We were 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’ taxi … which was a great experience, so we opted every day for this fun drive.

Ok, now it’s time for the beach 😄

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

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 where all the diving excursions take place … really well organised.

Coral Divers’ site on the beach

Berto has done 2 dives each day during the morning (that’s normally when the conditions are good). A dive instructor or dive master lead each dive and show them all the great 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 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!

Sodwana Bay beach

The amazing thing about a holiday like this, is that you make many new friends. We enjoyed almost every evening with new friends and over a bottle of good wine, had great conversations and a really good time.

We concluded our week-long holiday at Sodwana Bay, with a delicious dinner and 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 … at the same place when we arrived here 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 photo’s and read more about the diving, when you click here 👍🏻

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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