Written by: Bart Lukasik
I first arrived on the east coast of South Africa in 2011. I remember it clearly as it changed my life. On the invitation of a good friend that I had met traveling, I showed up in Durban with all my scuba diving and video production gear. The plan was to stay for a couple of months and to see what happens. Since then I have not been able to leave this amazing coast for longer than a couple of weeks at a time. During my first week diving the subtropical coral reefs of Sodwana Bay in Kwazulu-Natal, I saw more varied marine life than in all my previous dive experience.
Now, after a couple of years of diving, filming and exploring the South African and Mozambican coastlines, I can safely say that this region offers some of the most exciting underwater adventures on the planet. Thanks to the temperate climate and mixing oceanic currents, the variety of marine life is simply astounding. I have had the pleasure of visiting this aquatic world at different times of the year, and every season has something special to offer. Each day and each reef is always different. On average, I dive every other day, yet there are still so many dive sites that I have not visited. Just as I think there cannot be anything more to explore, other divers recommend a new location replete with unique that I absolutely have to come and visit to film.
Watch my video about my experiences diving on Africa’s East Coast:
I have had some amazing marine life encounters on pretty much every single dive site, and yet I doubt that I have seen all of the 1,283 species of fish that live in Sodwana Bay, or all of the species of shark that thrive in the waters of Aliwal Shoal. Even the yearly great marine migration, the Sardine Run on the Wild Coast, differs from season to season.
The beauty of it all is that this whole coast is still, in my opinion, very much unspoiled. While tourism does thrive, it seems to be on a sustainable level and has the necessary infrastructure to support it.
South Africa has always been praised for its game reserves, and yet it has so much more to offer. It is hard for me to imagine a better day than one starting by exploring the reefs beneath the waves followed by a game drive looking out for the ‘Big Five’ at sunset. Ending, of course, with a compulsory braai to round it all off perfectly.
For more on on coral reef fish read: East Africa Coral Reef Survey Expedition