Sodwana Bay

Sodwana is home to some of the world's most southerly reefs

Sodwana Bay is located between St. Lucia and Lake Sibhayi on the east coast of South Africa in the Sodwana Bay National Park (established in the 1950s). It is a unique location and one of the most unspoiled parts of the world. The marine protected area is known for endangered marine megafauna including whale sharks, great white sharks, zambezi sharks, hammerhead sharks, blacktip sharks, manta rays, orange-spotted groupers, potato cod, critically endangered leatherback turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, and coelacanths, to name just a few. It was the re-discovery of the presumed-extinct Coelacanths in 1938 which made the region world-famous.

Dive sites are concentrated at the following areas:
• Two-mile Reef, the largest reef in the system, over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and 900 meters (0.5 miles) wide. It is the most popular area with depths ranging from 9 meters (29 feet) to over 30 meters (98 feet) at the outer edge.
• Quarter Mile Reef, most often dived in January and February when ragged-toothed sharks congregate.
• Stringer Reef, at a depth of 14 meters (46 feet), a small reef with a great diversity of species.
• Four and Five Mile Reefs, about 8km (5 miles) from Jesser Point. These reefs are a bit deeper, and have branching, table and plate corals. They are well known for the delicate miniature staghorn coral gardens. Trainee divers are not allowed to enter this area.
• Seven Mile Reef, the area about 11 kilometers north of Jesser Point, where there are overhangs, drop-offs and mushroom reefs. Bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen here and will approach divers to within 8-10 meters (26-33 feet). There are also large colonies of anemonies. The inward edge offers protection to turtles and rays.
• Nine Mile Reef, the northern-most reef of the commonly accessible areas. Depths range from 6 to 21 meters (20-70 feet). There is a green tree coral at the drop-off on the seaward side of the reef.
• Coelacanth dives at the Jesser Canyon require a special permit, and certification and competence in trimix diving to depths of over 100 meters (328 feet).


Depth m/ft

8-100/26-330

Visibility m/ft

8-40/26-131

Temperature C/F

19-24/66-75

Crescent Tail Big Eyes, Two Mile Reef, Sodwana Bay (photo by Paul Hunter)
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Manta Ray, Sodwana Bay (photo by Derek Keats)
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7 Mile, Sodwana Bay (photo by Paul Hunter)
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'bigmouth' Whale shark, Sodwana Bay (photo by Fiona Ayerst)
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