INFO ABOUT DIVING IN ALIWAL SHOAL
Aliwal Shoal, named after a ship that was nearly wrecked here in 1849, is a fossilized sandbar almost 2 km long, approximately 5 km off the shores of Umkomaas, a small fishing village located about 50 km to the south of Durban on the east coast of South Africa.
Granted the title of Marine Protected Area in 2005, the area offers open water diving for beginners, more advanced diving with a couple of wrecks, including The Produce, 119 meters in length found at 32 meters, and the Nebo, a ship from the XIX century located at 26 meters, but its biggest attraction is diving with sharks. Aliwal is made up of unique underwater landscapes that create a backdrop of impressive caves, canals and rock formations, perfect for any shark or shipwreck experience. It is a special place.
>30 dive spot
up to 35 m depth
all dive levels
8m semi-rigid boats
The ragged tooth sharks, locally known as “raggies”, have helped this area to become world known, as between the months of June and November they congregate to mate, and it's easy to find 15 to 150 of these ferocious, but docile creatures, in a single dive. It is also one of the few places in the world where divers can interact with one of the three most feared predators in its natural, cage-free environment, the tiger shark.
The well known "feeding" or “baited” dive, takes place at a depth of 10m, where a bucket with bait is placed. The divers stay away and wait for the sharks to arrive. Although tiger sightings are not guaranteed, the chances are quite high. The oceanic blacktip sharks, hammerheads, whitetips, bulls, duskies, and even the great white sharks are very frequently seen, but one must be more careful, at times, with the potato groupers and the jacks (o kingfishers), and even the remoras themselves.
DAY OUT DIVING
Timing is everything, so our day starts early to optimize sightings. After a light breakfast in the accommodation that is above the diving center facilities, we review and prepare the equipment, attend the briefing and after driving for 5 minutes to the boat launch area on the beach, where the boat awaits us with all the material stowed, our adventure begins.
All the dives in Umkomaas involve entries from the coast with the boats, with which the excitement is guaranteed from early morning.
After a very stimulating entry into the break from the beach or from the river, the dive sites are 15 minutes away, the closest ones, and those furthest 25 minutes away.
Depending on the environmental and meteorological conditions, and the number of divers on board, we usually make a dive and return to the beach, where we change the cylinders, eat some snacks and leave again approximately 20 minutes later.
After a surface interval of 1h30 'we go for the second dive. At the exit of the latter, we return to the dive center where we usually arrive before noon, the perfect time to sit down for breakfast / lunch.
We have located the various dive sites through GPS. Once above the point, we prepare for the entry, and during this time we calculate what the boat has moved and in what direction, which gives us information about the type of current that we can find.
We always plan the dives to go with the current. We never anchor the zodiac, so we always drift. The descent is in the middle of the blue, and the reference is the buoy and the guide's reel. The deepest dive sites do not exceed 30 meters in depth, and many of them are a maximum of 18 meters deep.
Shark feeding is a shallow dive since it does not exceed 10 meters, and depending on the schedule, it is the first dive of the day. On the round trips to the dive sites during the winter months (June to November), depending on the weather conditions and the state of the sea, we cruise in search of humpback whales.
If luck is with us, which is usually very common, and the conditions are favorable after evaluating the behavior of the animal, we enter the water using only the mask, snorkel and fins. Gearing up with the scuba equipment and a tank is not usual in these cases.
WEATHER & SEA CONDITIONS
We can find perfect diving conditions in Umkomaas on any day of the year. Visibility and currents are less dependent on seasonal weather patterns and are more affected by the prevailing tides and winds of the day. On average, Aliwal Shoal offers 12 meters of visibility, being able to reach up to 25 meters in its best conditions, or in its worst conditions of only 5 meters. The water temperature ranges from 17 ° C to 21 ° C in winter (May - October) and from 22 ° C to 25 ° C in summer (November - April).
We recommend anti-seasickness pills for those who are prone to seasickness.
Mozambique Experience is associated with one of the longest running dive centers in Umkomaas, offering an ideal infrastructure with on-site accommodation, and is located close to the beach, restaurants and shops.
We have two 8.2 meter semi-rigid boats, both with a capacity of up to 16 divers each, although we prefer to keep smaller groups and we usually go with a maximum of 8 divers per boat. Each boat is equipped with 2 Yamaha 100 hp 4-stroke engines, emergency oxygen, first aid kit, life jackets, radio contact and emergency plan.
For those who feel the chill on longer dives or during the winter months, we recommend minimum 5mm wetsuits, or even 7mm semi-dry. During the summer, when the water temperature is usually kept between 22 ° C and 25 ° C, a 5mm is usually enough. For those who prefer to rent, we have 5mm Scubapro suits, as well as a selection of closed fins and masks. The scuba tanks are made of steel and / or aluminum with capacities of 12 lt.
The available nitrox is 32% and up to 40% for those certified. For those who still do not have the qualification and prefer to do it here with us, it can be arranged with Robert and Lacin.
Highly misunderstood, misrepresented and falsely accused, these apex predators offer you the mind-blowing, not-to-be-missed, experience of a lifetime. The baited shark dive is done off the Aliwal Shoal crown area and attracts up to 40 pelagic oceanic blacktip sharks throughout the year. A guest appearance in summer by the ever shy and elusive tiger shark makes visitors stream to Aliwal. Face your fear, come do a baited shark dive and be left speechless and in awe. No words can describe the euphoria of a dive with these magnificent creatures, right from the shores of Umkomaas.
We can, and in fact, we do see sharks every day of the year at Aliwal Shoal. The following is a list that can be taken as a reference, but like everything in nature, nothing is guaranteed.
Guitar shark (from March to October), dusky shark (from May to September), hammerhead shark (from October to March), tiger and bull shark (from November to May), whale shark (from December to February), whitetip reef shark (December to May).
The ragged tooth shark, which uses the reefs of Aliwal Shoal as a mating site, is seen, and sometimes in its hundreds, from June to November.
The oceanic blacktip shark is often seen throughout the year, along with dolphins and turtles. The humpback whale between June and November.