The Knsyna Heads are a magnificent setting for a scuba diving adventure. Throughout the year qualified divers can explore the largely undamaged remains of the Paquita, a German ship that sank in the Knysna lagoon back in 1903.

Did you know?

The endangered Knysa seahorse, at only 7cm long, is one of the smallest in the world.

Scuba diving in Knysna is a great adventure for anyone interested in shipwrecks. The Paquita, a German vessel, sank on the eastern side of the Knysna Heads way back in 1903.

The wreck, which is easily accessible to qualified divers, remains in excellent condition. Its iron plates still glimmer brightly and its anchors are clearly visible, despite sitting at the bottom of the ocean for over a century.

Various dive operators offer both day and night dives at this site and they're highly recommended by those in the know.

According to various sources, the sinking of the Paquita was premeditated – an apparent attempt to bamboozle insurance brokers. Because the ship sank in the calmer section of the lagoon, far from the more dangerous port entrance where strong currents could genuinely cause sailing difficulty, the insurance company concerned did not pay out.

Divers exploring the Paquita wreck can go as far as 16m below the surface. The visibility of the water at the site is graded as moderate, with divers able to see up to 10m in any direction.

In addition to the wreck, divers will experience a variety of marine life, such as monster-size garrick (also known as leerfish), small sharks, cuttlefish and an assortment of colourful sea anemones. There is even a chance of spotting the rare Knysna seahorse, believed to be the most endangered variety of seahorse on the planet and indigenous to the Knysna Lagoon.

The Knysna Tourism Association can recommend dive operators who will provide equipment and qualified dive guides.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Knysna Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 5510

Knysna Backpackers
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 2554

Knysna Elephant Park
Tel: +27 (0)44 532 7732

How to get here

The nearest airport to Knysna is in George, approximately an hour's drive. Knysna is a six-hour drive from Cape Town and a three-hour drive from Port Elizabeth along the N2.

Best time to visit

Although the water is cold during winter, this is when the oyster festival – and all the fun that goes with it – is happening.

Around the area

The Knysna Elephant Park allows you the opportunity to get up close to the world's largest land animal. Those wanting to spend time on the beach can head down the road to Plettenberg Bay, one of South Africa’s most popular coastal towns.

Tours to do

Knysna is equally famous for its magnificent forests which boast hiking and biking trails of note. There are also numerous animal sanctuaries in the area, including Birds of Eden, Buffalo Hills Game Reserve, Monkeyland, Radical Raptors, Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre and The Elephant Sanctuary.

Where to stay

Knysna boasts a wide range of B&Bs, hotels and holiday cottages. If you are on a budget, Knysna Backpackers is a fun and welcoming establishment well worth considering.

What to eat

Knysna is famous for its oysters – and other fresh seafood.

What's happening

The Knysna Oyster Festival takes place over nine days in July every year.

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