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There’s scuba diving for all levels of experience (including kids) on Plettenberg Bay’s coral reefs. Seal dives, night dives and shore dives, inside and outside the bay, will bring you mask-to-nose with more than 100 species of fish. If you’re lucky, you may even find yourself among a pod of dolphins.
Plettenberg Bay, in Western Cape province on the Garden Route, is one of South Africa’s best-known seaside resorts, famous for its gorgeous white beaches, expansive lagoons, lazy rivers and red sandstone cliffs. It’s also home to the Plettenberg Bay reefs, which encircle the bay.
Plettenberg Bay boasts some of the finest soft coral reefs in the world, the haunt of starfish, sponges, shellfish and one of South Africa’s star marine attractions – the rare pansy shell.
If it’s scuba diving you’re after, then head for Pro Dive at the Beacon Isle Resort. You can hire some or all of your gear there, take lessons (including kids from 8 upwards) and then choose to dive the coral reef that most attracts you.
Shore dives on offer include Redbait Reef, known as J-Bay’s ‘house reef’, which is great for beginners or the less experienced diver. It’s easily accessible from the beach, and its plentiful natural light is a boon to the underwater photographer.
Buy a cheap disposable underwater camera if you’ve never tried this before and snap the reef fish, cuttlefish, sharks, sea urchins, anemones and squishy sponges.
You’ll need to swim a short way to reach Shallow Blinders, a 3-pinnacled coral reef that nurtures dozens of fish. Check out ragged-tooth, pyjama and leopard sharks, plus rays, octopus, cuttlefish and boxfish.
Swim a bit further out to Blinders Reef, and the Wall awaits you: a technicolour dream of soft coral and its many denizens, including orange wall sponges, blue choirboys, strawberry anemones and everywhere you look, multi-coloured coral.
If you’re a fisherman, take your rod out to sea and hope for blacktail, red roman, yellowbelly rock cod or the extremely tasty galjoen (also called ‘black bream’ – coincidentally, the national fish of South Africa).
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)44 533 1158
Cel: +27 (0)83 656 8485
How to get here
Fly direct from Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban to George Airport and then take the N2 East to Plettenberg Bay.
Best time to visit
Plettenberg Bay is a year-round destination. Visit between May and November for superb whale watching. Best avoid peak holiday times: from December to January and July to August.
Around the area
Adventure activities in the area include the zip slide and bungy jump at the Bloukrans River Bridge, boat cruises, sea kayaking and canoeing.
Where to stay
As one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts, Plettenberg Bay does not lack for accommodation options. Do, however, book well in advance.
What to eat
If you’re in the area in July, catch the Knysna Oyster Festival in nearby Knysna.