South Africa Dive Sites - East London Dive Sites

Image - East London Dive Sites

East London, the only river harbour and the fourth largest harbour city in the country, retains a distinctly sleepy, small-town atmosphere and offers a friendly reception to the visitor. Scuba diving is very popular but there are still numerous unexplored reefs, as well as a number of interesting wrecks, and local dive operators are opening up new dive sites regularly.

Three Sisters

A beautiful and colourful reef, this is one of the more popular boat dives in the area and is regarded as one of the best in the East London region. Water temperatures range from a moderate 17-210C )63-7C0F).
The spectacular pinnacles, ledges and crevices are abundant in colourful invertebrates, such as sponges, gorgonians, and if you look carefully, camouflaged nudibranchs. Big reef fish abound on the pinnacles and it is consequently a popular spearfishing area. Spearfishing, however, is only permitted from shore. Ragged-tooth sharks have often been spotted on this reef.
Conditions:: It is best dived in winter (May to August). The water here is usually cleaner than for most shore dives in the area, as it lies further out to sea.
Average depth: 8m 25ft)
Maximum depth: 15m {50ft)
Access: Can be reached by boat from either Nahoon or Gonubie river mouth. The reef breaks at low tide and can be seen from the shore.
Location: 1 km off Bonza Bay

Nahoon Bay

This area offers three different dive sites with pinnacles protruding from a sandy seabed. Nahoon Bay is characterized by spectacular ledges and caves with a high concentration of soft corals and a wide range of reef fish Juvenile tropical fish have accidentally wandered in along with the current occasionally. This is a great spot for those keen on macrophotography.
Location: East of Nahoon Reef.
Access: By boat launched from either Gonudie or Nahoon river mouths.
Conditions: Best dived on west to north-west winds, but is diveable all year.
Average depth: 10m (33ft)
Maximum depth: 18m (60ft)

Port Alfred

Port Alfred is a picturesque little town at the mouth of the Kowie River, midway between Port Elizabeth and East London. A new marina has been built at the old harbour, which was frequented by trading ships for more than 20 years during the nineteenth century.
Although days, or sometimes-even weeks, of poor diving conditions may persist, particularly during the summer rainy season, this relatively unexplored part of coast offers superb diving when conditions are good. The westerly winds clean the water, as does a light easterly wind, while a strong easterly dirties it. Warm Berg winds flatten the water but bring in cold water because of upwelling, and fog often presents problems. The western ocean currents clean the water and the opposite holds true for the eastern currents.
The best season for diving here is during the winter months (late March to late August), with the two best months being June and July. The average visibility (in diveable conditions) is around 6-10m (20-33ft), but it can be up to 20m (66ft) on exceptional days. The water temperature ranges from 12-18’C (54-65’F) but can reach 25’C (77’F) occasionally in January, in which case it is usually very clean as well.Fountain Rocks is an extensive reef to the southeast of the Kowie River mouth. Most launches are through the Kowie River mouth, which can be very dangerous in big seas, so it is sometimes not possible to dive because you cannot launch a boat. It is possible to launch an inflatable off Kleinmond Beach, though, about an hour’s drive up the coast. Fish Life is varied and big fish are particularly plentiful with many spotted ragged-tooth sharks and rays occurring in certain areas.

Riet Point

This is an exceptionally colorful and prolific reef. Soft corals in many colours are abundant and, at greater depths, huge sponges dominate the reef. Because of the tricky anchoring, local fishermen avoid this spot and consequently, big reef fish abound.
Location: In the east of the Kowie River mouth, about 3km offshore.
Access: By boat from Port Alfred. It is best to take two tanks and perhaps combine a shallow dive here with a deeper one on the Kilbrennan.
Conditions: Because the pinnacle comes up to about 6m (20ft), care must be taken when anchoring as the sea can pick up and tip a shallowly anchored boat.
Average depth: 10m (33ft)
Maximum depth: 22m (70ft)

Janssens Rock

This site consists of a broken reef with four distinct pinnacles rising to a few metres below the surface, gulleys and a flat reef. The potholes are colorful with abundant sponges and soft coral growth. There is a tunnel approximately 8m (25ft) long running through the rock at a depth of about 5m (30ft) and raggies are often found in here. The tunnel is wide enough for four divers to swim through side by side with ease, a practice which is not recommended when the raggies are in residence.
Location: Northeast of Fountain Rocks.
Average depth: 8m (25ft)
Maximum depth: 18m (60ft)