Shark Diving (Umkomaas, South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal)
Welcome to our road trip of December 2021. We are travelling by car across South Africa (from the west coast → north coast → KZN south coast → back to the west coast). The distance we will cover, will be around 5,000km (3,106 miles).
Our main purpose for this trip, besides seeing places we have not seen before, is for Berto to scuba dive in Sodwana Bay and then to be a little more adventurous … diving with sharks in the ocean in Umkomaas on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. We hope to share lots of pictures to show you our beautiful country.
Accommodation – Day 12 to Day 18:
And finally, here we are … at the highlight of our road trip (at least for Berto) 😉 … diving with sharks in the open ocean!
Brace yourself for an overload of shark images – this will be our post with the most pictures thus far … we hope you enjoy these dives (while staying dry)!
Come on, let’s go diving – it’s going to be very exciting!
Preparing for the dive:
Before each dive, it’s a very busy time. The two boats are prepared with all the diving equipment, divers get into their wetsuits, signing indemnity forms (ah, those sharks …) … in short, there is a high anticipation from the divers of what they will experience!
Depending on the weather conditions, the divers will either enter the ocean from the river’s side or directly into the sea. This is one of the most difficult launch sites into the ocean and it’s probably true that the skippers here at Umkomaas are the most capable of them all!
Baited shark dive:
Except for the normal diving excursions, Berto also booked one baited shark dive. Aliwal Shoal is one of the few places in the world where divers can enjoy the extreme thrill of diving with both Blacktip- and Tiger sharks … that is in the open ocean with NO cage.
At first, when arriving at the reef, frozen fish are thrown overboard … and the sharks appears immediately!
- The following photo’s are taken with a GoPro 6 Black. Keep in mind that the visibility at Umkomaas are not as amazing as at Sodwana Bay … and everything is happening at a much faster pace …
The bait ball, filled with chum, are now thrown overboard and the divers jumps in to hang at 10m to watch an amazing spectacle.
After a while, somewhere from the deep dark shadows, sharks start approaching the bait ball (and divers) … I’m sure it’s then when divers think to themselves “Am I totally crazy?”
Let’s breathe for a moment … and focus on the other fish!
But it’s not long before the focus goes back to those sharks … they are after all circling the bait ball (and the divers).
With the bait ball dive over, the boat moved over to the next diving spot. On the reef, is North Sands and there you will find a cave … and more sharks. The photo’s are a bit dark (it is a cave after all, approximately 15m underwater), but I’m sure you’ll be able to see what the divers came for …
Did I mention there are other creatures, except for sharks, in the ocean as well? Berto saw a lobster hiding under a rock – they look a bit different than those on the west coast of South Africa.
Taking a break:
The divers normally do two dives per day (depending on the weather). In between dives, they will rest for a while on the boat before they commencing on their next dive of the day.
We had really bad (diving) weather for the week we stayed in Umkomaas. When we saw the perfect weather conditions on the day we were supposed to leave, we instantly decided to stay an extra day – this would be a great dive at Cathedral to see more sharks … and it turned out to be exactly that!
Cathedral is another huge cave where sharks gets together … and the perfect place to lay on your stomach and just watch them hanging around.
Oh yes, and once again … there are other fish in this part of the ocean. The coral reefs are also colourful, and so are the fish.
It was time to greet the sharks and leave the amazing waters of Aliwal Shoal at Umkomaas.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, it was THE highlight for Berto on our road trip. An experience to never forget and definitely recommended to any serious scuba diver!
And what did I get from this part of our road trip?
We hope you enjoyed this post (just as much as Berto enjoyed his dives and me watching all the multiple video’s and photo’s while putting this post together).
This is not the end though of our road trip, in our next post, we are staying with animals with sharp teeth … and pay a visit to a crocodile park. Can’t wait to meet you guys there!
PS: No animals (or divers) were hurt during these excursions! This post is an illustration of how sharks are miss-represented by movies and the media as being dangerous creatures.