Protea Banks & Aliwal Shoal

By Sea, Destinations

Protea Banks is situated 7.5km out to sea from Shelly Beach in the KwaZulu Natal province of  South Africa. The reef lies at a depth of between 27 and 40 meters, and it essentially a fossilized sandbank which comes up from 60m, and it is about 6km long and 800m wide.

Generations of local fisherman have made a living at Protea, whilst Scuba Divers have come face to face with Sharks and Game Fish since the early 1990’s.

Protea Banks is one of the richest tuna grounds in the world which explains why it is so strongly frequented by Bull Sharks (locally known as Zambezi Shark). Almost all year-round they patrol the reef in search of food.

Scalloped Hammerheads swim up and down the reef in schools that at times, are hundreds, sometimes even thousands of individuals. Although, generally shy the Great Hammerhead also makes an appearance from time to time.

Behind a massive school of Barracudas, Blacktip Sharks can be seen darting in and out of the diver’s vision. These beautiful marked and steam lined animals always seem to be playing hide and seek with the divers and they behave just like underwater puppies.

When the slow but steady current takes the divers past the Sand Shark Gulley, a sandy patch will appear where, at times, as many as 60 Giant Guitar Sharks can be seen. The Ragged-tooth Sharks (locally knows as Raggies) can also be seen in large numbers of around 100 to 200 at a time during their breeding season in and around the caves on the Northern Pinnacle. Their friendly and inquisitive nature has made them a firm favourite with many divers.

And topping the list is the magnificent Tiger Shark. This perfectly built and beautifully striped creature often makes an impressive appearance on Protea.


Protea Banks is ranked as one of the world’s best Shark dives.