Scuba Dive Mozambique: Inhambane, Quirimbas and Bazaruto
To scuba dive in Mozambique is extraordinary as its all about sharks and reefs, but there is also a huge variety of marine life to enjoy - whales, dolphins, turtles, mantas, devil and eagle rays, morays and a wide range of game fish.
The most popular scuba dive site in Mozambique is Tofo Beach in Inhambane, with its famous all year mantas and whale sharks, not to mention a fantastic five mile beach and a 24/7 party scene! Perfect for scuba diving holidays in Africa.
The Quirimbas is an archipelago of thirty two coral islands off Mozambique’s north coast, pristine and relatively unknown. Getting there may take a little extra effort and the accommodation is much more expensive, but the scuba diving is fantastic, with some of the richest coral reefs in the world. The Maluane Conservation Area contains three Indian Ocean islands, ideal to scuba dive Mozambique. Local life includes green and hawksbill turtles, humpbacks and dugong, as well as ribbon eels, spotted sweetlips, yellow branded snappers and 350 other assorted species.
Ibo Island is another popular Mozambqiue scuba dive site, with its warm, slow currents, shallows and spectacular drop offs for all grades of diver. There is great topography, an abundance of game fish like kingfish and barracuda and massive Napoleon wrasse. Try the Light House dive and drift over table, bucket, green tree and soft coral. There is a coral bottom at about 20 metres and a terrific 100 year old steamer wreck in shallow water around here somewhere…
Further south the Bazaruto Archipelago offers similar delights on its famous Two Mile Reef, which is one of the best spots for scuba diving holidays in Africa. You will have the exceptionally healthy coral much to yourself as well as the shoals of feeding dolphin, whales and whale sharks migrating through the Mozambique Channel, mantas and much more.
Scuba Dive Kenya: Watamu and Malindi
Snorkelling and scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean are also superb in the Watamu and Malindi Marine National Parks. Magnificent beaches with warm 25 to 30C water all year, plus protected sea life and coral make this the perfect location to learn or tick off another great scuba dive site. The dry season runs from July to December when visibility reaches 20 metres. The water is calmest and warmest from October to March and whale sharks and manta pass through in January and February. Conservation is big here, with the local Ocean Trust and Watamu Turtle Watch supported by all the dive centres.
There are over 600 fish species on show and 145 types of hard coral. Check out the lion, unicorn and butterfly fish, giant trevally, puffer fish and crab. This is also one of the best nudibranch sites in the world. Malindi is a crucial turtle nesting site for loggerheads, green, hawksbill and olive ridley and the parks are home to large moray eels.
Both Padi and BSAC training can be found here, so you can feel at home whatever your discipline. Two 1-tank dives per day is the norm on scuba diving holidays in Africa & the Indian Ocean, and both night and wreck dives can be arranged when conditions allow.
Scuba Dive Tanzania: Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands
Tanzania offers more superb scuba diving holidays in Africa, with its magnificent Indian Ocean islands and in Lake Tanganyika, where you can see freshwater cichlid in hundreds of varied forms. From July to March the dryer weather and calmer seas provide ideal scuba diving holiday conditions.
Zanzibar Island offers many excellent dive sites, many reached from Nungwi in the far north. June to September is hatching time for the green and hawksbill turtles. For consistent 30 metre visibility and exceptional wall and drift diving, check out Mnemba Atoll, the so called tropical fish capital of East Africa, for one of the best scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean. Experienced divers looking for the next thrill should visit the Leven Bank. This must-do site is located in the wide blue yonder to the north, with currents to match. But the reward is the local population of tuna, barracuda, trevally, kingfish, wrasse and huge morays.
Pemba Island, situated to the north of Zanzibar, is a remote coral atoll with a comparatively low tourist count. There are numerous terrific sites for scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean, but for sharks go to North Horn. You will see white-tip, silvertip, whaler and the occasional hammerhead. Bumphead parrotfish, bigeye trevally, potato cod, green turtle, giant groupers and spotted eagle ray are also on show here. Whale sharks and mantas can be seen in November. Nearby Misali Island is small but intensely populated with fish and coral, with the most spectacular, coral covered drop-off in the area. They also have a fast drift through the channel which you have to try.
Mafia is a small island south of Zanzibar and is another essential scuba dive site. Tourism has yet to catch up with this pristine, world renowned marine park and you will have a choice of fantastic dives pretty much to yourself. The island is surrounded by barrier reefs which teem with life, so offers exhilarating scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocaen. There are 50 types of coral and 460 fish species including large predatory fish and turtles which are remarkably relaxed with divers. Most dives are well under 30 metres and each has its own attractions. You will see giant table coral, giant clams, seafans, whip coral, huge staghorn, large groupers, giant batfish, Napoleon wrasse and much more. This is also a conservation area for the endangered dugong, so you could get lucky there. There is great wall, pinnacle and drift diving too. Whale sharks gather in the Mafia Island channel in October.
Scuba Dive Madagascar: Nosy Be, Nosy Mitsio and Isle Sainte Marie
Located in the Indian Ocean off the south east coast of Africa, this is the fourth largest island in the world. Scuba diving holidays are superb from May to December (exceptional from October) with water temperatures between 25 and 28C and visibility at 30 metres plus. Here you will find one of the longest continuous coral reefs in the world.
The best scuba dive sites are on and around the island of Nosy Be in the north. Here you can swim with whale sharks in October and November, manta in June and July, and humpbacks from August to November when they give birth here. These are shark waters too, with leopards, white tips and hammerheads on show, as well as turtles and dolphins.
Further north you will find the Nosy Mitsio archipelago, with gullies and massive seabed rock formations where mantas and dolphins are regular visitors, offering magnficent diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean. On the north east side of Madagascar check out beautiful Isle Sainte Marie and its migrating humpbacks and wrecks, or Isle aux Nattes with its stunning corals.
By contrast, the diving in the south west at Ifaty and Anakao, near the popular (and rather warm) Toliara boasts terrific caves and swim-throughs. This undeveloped country offers some of the best scuba diving holidays in Africa.
Scuba Dive South Africa: Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks and Sodwana Bay
With 3,000 km of coastline, from tropical Indian Ocean coral reefs on the east coast to cool rocky Atlantic reefs on the west coast, conditions vary widely when you scuba dive in South Africa. Water temperatures average 27C, so a standard wet suit will suffice, but in the west at 14C you may need a 7 mm suit. Diving conditions can be a lot more physical here, especially along the west coast, with more surf launches, big swell, strong currents and colder water. But this is one of the most diverse dive locations in the world, from great whites to billions of sardines, so don’t let that put you off scuba diving in South Africa!
Aliwal Shoal is situated about an hour south of Durban and even the ride out through the surf is worth the trip! This is shark city. It is one of the best shark dive sites in the world and, with a 100% accident clean sheet, one the safest too. Here you will see the ragged tooth sharks (“raggies”) that come here from June to November to mate, loggerhead turtles and ribbon tailed rays, not to mention two well populated wrecks at 25 – 30 metres. It is also one of the best places for scuba diving in South Africa to observe the Sardine Run when, between late May and July, billions of sardines (pilchards actually) migrate 700 miles from Cape Agulhas around the east coast to Durban, before heading out into the Indian Ocean - creating one of nature’s greatest feeding frenzies. This incredible hoard attracts orcas, brydes whales, bottlenoses, and ragged tooth sharks. The timing of this natural phenomenon cannot be guaranteed, and it doesn’t happen every year, but when it does it is an awesome sight.
Protea Banks is a legendary dive site nearby, that also offers some of the best scuba diving in South Africa. It is a fossilised sand dune about 4 miles long by 700 yards wide, with diving from 27 to 40 metres. It is also renowned as one of the top shark dive sites in the world and you are practically guaranteed shark and other big pelagic encounters on every dive. In the summer zambezi sharks come to stay with hammerheads, often in their hundreds, with raggies from June to November. There are guitar sharks, coppers and blacktips, and maybe tigers if you are lucky. There are huge numbers of barracuda, snappers, yellowtails, tuna, potato bass and kingfish. If that isn’t enough you will also get mantas, devil rays, humpbacks and whale sharks! This place is truly extraordinary and one of the planet’s must-see diving experiences!
Sodwana Bay is further north, not far from the border with Mozambique. This whole area is a national marine park with an even climate and water temperatures varying nicely from 19 to 29C. The permitted diving area is comparatively small but the place is packed with marine life including dolphins, sailfish, raggies, humpbacks, blue marlin and from October to February, whale sharks. In addition there is the customary fun boat ride out in this part of Africa, sometimes involving some very impressive surf!
Mabibi Beach is tucked between Sodwana Bay and the Mozambique border, in the Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve. It offers low key scuba diving in South Africa at a beautiful dive site with exceptional gullies, dive-throughs and pinnacles. Migrating whales and whale sharks come by from October to February and raggies frequently take a break in the 21C to 27C waters. If you like turtles, leatherbacks and loggerheads nest and hatch on the beaches here from October to February.
False Bay, south east of Cape Town, offer scuba diving holidays in South Africa in sheltered waters that are a little warmer than along the west coast. There’s a lot going on too, with kelp forest, rocky walls, brilliantly coloured sea fans and sandy bottoms. This is home to fur seals, leopard cat sharks and puff adder shysharks, not to mention a great range of nudibranchs.
Gansbaai is a litle further along the coast, but it’s hardly diving as we know it. Cage Diving to see great whites is the local attraction – and it's fun. The sharks are here for the huge colonies of Cape fur seals and African penguins on the Dyer Island. This really is Shark Alley and if you have never seen them close up and personal, then this is a safe, fun way to do so. There is also some interesting shark conservation work going on here, so it is all in a good cause.
Mossel Bay is a small harbour town in the centre of South Africa’s famous Garden Route. There are several scuba dives sites up to 30 metres with big fans, sponges & sting rays but its main claim to fame is as one of the best sites for scuba diving holidays in South Africa to see great whites! Tucked away in the corner is Santos Bay, a small sheltered reef with stingrays, cuttlefish as well as the local reef species. From October to December you may be fortunate enough to see the Chokka Squid Run. The squid migrate from Cape Town along the east coast to Port Elizabeth. They gather in immense single-sex shoals before mixing to spawn, attracting rays, dolphins, sharks, octopuses and seals to the feast.
Scuba Dive Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles
This famous trio of high-end scuba dive locations all offer terrific opportunities for scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean, with some including more après diving attractions than others.
Maldives is the most popular, perhaps because all the sightseeing is underwater. There are 1200 small, flat coral islands and trips here are all about the beach and the sea. If all you want to do is scuba dive and lay or play on the beach during your intervals, then this is the place for you. They have the greatest number and variety of exceptional dives and the island grouping on 26 atolls also make for great channel diving and fast drifts. The big pelagics are everywhere and perennial, with whale and grey reef sharks, dolphins and their iconic yellow fin tuna. Mantas regularly drop by to be cleaned up by wrasse and shrimp! The corals and the fans are exceptional, with pinnacles, swim throughs, caverns and overhangs galore. The wildlife is prolific, including jack, snapper, eagle and sting rays, barracuda, green turtles, batfish, morays and all the usual suspects. With all-year water temperatures from 26 – 30C and a minimum 20 metres of visibility, it is no surprise that this is one of the most popular scuba diving holiday locations on the planet.
Mauritius is a beautiful volcanic island with fascinating mutli-culture diversity and heritage. That means that here is much more to do and see if you want a break from scuba diving. You may not however, because there are great scuba dive sites all over the island. Take your pick from shallow dives and reefs for beginners to cliffs, pinnacles, caverns and twenty six wrecks for the more experienced. Apart from the superb corals, anemones and sponges you will see trumpet and clown fish, angels and sergeant majors, morays and crayfish, groupers and wrasse. Game fish include tuna, wahoo and marlin and the water ranges from 28C in summer, that’s November to March and 21C in winter. December to March is the ideal time for scuba diving holidays to Africa & the Indian Ocean.
Seychelles are a little further away and different again, offering up-market scuba diving holidays. These are granite and coral islands, with fabulous rainforests and abundant and often rare plants and animal life – and strict rules on conservation. Water temperatures are up to 29C between April and November with 30 metre visibility and fantastic, varied scuba diving. The 115 islands of the archipelago are divided into Inner (43) and Outer (the rest) with the Inner offering well-finned dives including big drop-offs, thermo-clines and great wrecks. The Outer are mainly uninhabited and you will need a little more experience to enjoy the mini and terraced walls, canyons, drifts and numerous wrecks. The coral is very rich, with the finest gorgonians in the Indian Ocean. And look out for the migrating mantas. You will see green turtles, massive coral bommies, barrel sponges and terrific reef-top crevasses and caves. In shore diving is 8 to 20 and off-shore up to 40 metres. One of the most exclusive destinations for scuba diving holidays in Africa & Indian Ocean. Quite a place.