Aliwal Shoal Dive Weeks

Aliwal Shoal gives divers the unique opportunity to experience wreck, reef and seasonal shark diving at the same site. With its many caves, gullies and pinnacles, the Shoal provides a seasonal residence for hundreds of ragged-tooth sharks. Dive between June and October and discover several, large and fully mature specimens. Outside of “raggie” season, Aliwal Shoal offers consistently great diving with a wide variety of dive sites.The shoal attracts a huge variety of tropical fish, nudibranch, dolphins, turtles, sharks, eagle, sting and manta rays. Plus, explore cool wrecks including the Nebo and the Produce.

Day 1 - Arrive Durban
Arrive King Shaka International Airport, Durban. After clearing customs and immigration you will be welcomed by a representative of Dive The Big 5 for the 45 minute road transfer to Umkomaas, Agulhas House, and the world famous Aliwal Shoal. Rest of the afternoon / evening free. Overnights at Agulhas House in a single room on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2 - Aliwal Shoal Diving
After an early wake-up call, at about 06h30, you will have a light continental breakfast before being transferred to the lagoon to launch the "Duck" (Zodiac) for your two dives on the reefs of Aliwal Shoal, weather permitting. Depending on weather conditions, the dive master may decide to do a 2-tank dive instead of returning to shore between the first and second dive.

All diving in South Africa is best done early in the morning, at dawn, as this is when there is no wind, no swell, no currents, and definitely the best time to dive. As the morning wears on, the winds tend to pick up causing a chop on the water, large swells, which result in unpleasant diving conditions.

Aliwal Shoal itself is a reef created out of fossilized sandstone almost 80 000 years ago. The area around the shoal consisted of sand dunes and, with heavy rains, the sand and shale dissolved forming a compound of calcium carbonate, which today forms the main body of the shoal. These reefs are covered with both soft and hard corals and have an abundance of fish life that is normally associated with coral reef diving.

Aliwal is about 2½ km’s long with a width averaging 150 meters. Depths vary from 6 to 27 meters (19 to 88 ft.) and the shoal offers a tapestry of diversity. The Cathedral area of the reef is one of the more spectacular dives. Its inhabitants include the Ragged Tooth Shark, Loggerhead Turtle, and Ribbon Tailed Rays.

In addition to the reef itself, there are also two good wrecks on which to dive. The Produce, an 18 000 ton Norwegian tanker that hit the Shoal and sank in 1974 and the second could be on the Nebo, which struck the shoal in May 1884 and sunk almost immediately with its cargo of railway material. Both wrecks lie at approximately 30 meters and are fairly intact which makes for great wreck diving.

Aliwal offers some of the best diving on the South African coastline. Water and light refreshments are provided on board the dive boat. Depending on weather and shark activity, you will return to Agulhas House for a hot "brunch." Rest of the day is free. Brett, the owner of Agulhas House, will be more than happy to “point you in the right direction” of the many local places of interest in and around Umkomaas. Such as Croc World, Tala Game Reserve, a Durban City Tour, a visit to uShaka Aquarium, a visit to the Natal Sharks Board, a Zulu Village cultural Tour, or an Oribi George tour. The cost of these tours have not been included in the cost of this itinerary and would be for your own account. 

Day 3 - Shark Diving Aliwal
Today, your chance to experience a baited shark dive, no cage, on Aliwal. After a light breakfast Agulhas House will transfer to the Umkomaas River Mouth and launch the “Rubber Duck” (Zodiac or RIB) for the mornings Baited Shark Dive, weather permitting. On a Baited Shark Dive on Aliwal, you can also expect to encounter Duskies, Black Tip Reef Shark and, if you are really, lucky, a Zambezi (Bull) Shark and / or a Tiger Shark, depending on the time of the year, as all Shark Diving on Aliwal is seasonal.

April is one of the best months on which to dive Aliwal Shoal. Your chances are good to encounter Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks, plus the ever present Blacktip Reef Sharks. Please be advised that the afore mentioned sharks have not read the following Shark Time Table and therefore do not know where they are supposed to be, and when.

The modus operandi of a baited shark dive on Aliwal follows the same procedure as a baited Shark dive on Protea, or anywhere else in South Africa for that matter.

Once we arrive at the dive site, we start chumming so as to attract the sharks and put out a buoy with the bait, which is contained in a stainless steel “box” with holes in it so that the “smell” and oil for the sardines in the “box” permeate into the water. When the first sharks appear the DM assesses the situation and if he is of the opinion that the sharks are going to stay around awhile and that they are not aggressive the divers may enter the water. Either you can view the action from the “safety” of the boat, or for non-certified divers, on snorkel. Certified divers drop down to about 5 meters and follow the action from below. This is a drift dive as the boat, chum and bait is drifting with the wind and surface current, as are the divers at 5 meters. Should the sharks disappear, the snorkelers and divers climb back onto the boat and we move to another location and start the process all over again.

And the most asked question!!! Why do we use a cage when diving with Great White’s yet when diving with Tigers, Bull Sharks etc. we don’t use a cage?? Are these Sharks not as dangerous? All wild animals in their natural environment are dangerous, but unlike Great Whites who prey on live animals, Tiger and Bull Sharks are scavengers and prefer to eat something that’s already dead rather than to hunt live pray. Let’s hope the Tiger Shark and Bull Shark agrees!!!

Day 4 - Diving
Another two wreck / reef dives, per day, weather permitting. After each days second dive, you will return to Agulhas House for a shower, a “hot” brunch. The rest of the afternoon / evening is free. Any additional dives and local touring would be for your own account.

Day 5 - Sharks!
Your last baited Shark Dive on Aliwal Shoal, weather permitting. Rest of the afternoon / evening free. 

Day 6 - Reefs & Wrecks
Your last two-tank reef / wreck dives on Aliwal Shoal. After the dives, the rest of the afternoon / evening free. 

Day 07 - Adios Aliwal
Time to say goodbye to Aliwal Shoal, Agulhas House, Umkomaas, the Province of KwaZulu/Natal and South Africa! After breakfast, at a time dependants on your flight departure time out of King Shaka International Airport – Durban, you will be collected from Agulhas House by a representative of Dive the Big 5 for the 45 minute return transfer to King Shaka International Airport – Durban where you will connect with your return flight home. End of services or onto your Safari!

Price per diver: $825