'Sodwana' means 'Little Paradise On Its Own' in Zulu'
First, I would like to point out that I might be a little biased in my following opinion: Sodwana Bay is one of the best holiday diving destinations in South Africa. It was one of my first dive holidays that I went on and probably one of my all-time favourite places to dive. Continue reading to find out why you should book your tickets to Sodwana ASAP.
Once you descend into the waters of this clear utopia, you will see a vast majority of rich colours in the form of marine creatures and their surrounds. You’ve probably seen Finding Nemo right? Well, it’s like that, but only better. In fact, some people have compared these dive sites with those in the Red Sea. There are 14 rocky reefs and they’re estimated to be about 4000 years old. The reefs are magnificent, with hard and soft corals decking them. The gullies and caves serve as great hide-outs waiting to be explored and the beautiful anemones house numerous small creatures like Clownfish and shrimps.
On an average dive, you can expect to see large sea life like sea turtles (Loggerhead and Leatherback), moray eels (really big ones at that), parrotfish, octopus, Ragged-tooth sharks and even tinier fish like Damsels, Angelfish, Rock cod, Sergeant Major fish and much more. In fact, there are 1200 species of marine life that you can catch a glimpse of here!
Other amazing marine life sightings include whale watching. The Southern Right and South Hemisphere Humpback whales are regularly spotted here. This is also a huge tourist attraction in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park area. We were lucky enough to see some whales with their calves on our last trip.
The shores are the nesting place for the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles. During November to May, these turtles come onto shore to lay their eggs. This is a pretty amazing sight to see and there are even tours that go out so you can witness the turtles hatch.
I can almost dedicate this entire article just to the extraordinary marine animals, but there are so many other aspects that make Sodwana Bay awe-inspiring.
The water is clear and if you time your trip right, nice and warm. The water temperature can reach as high as 28 °C during January and on average the lowest the water temperature will drop is at about 20 °C during July. To me as a Cape Town diver, this was a whole new experience! Although it’s important to note that Cape Town is a must-see dive destination in its own right, one thing is for sure: Cape Town’s water can become pretty cold. It can reach lows of below 10°C! So, yes, I enjoyed the near-tropical waters of Sodwana.
The visibility is rarely less than 15 metres, which means you’re basically guaranteed to have amazing vis during your dives. The best time of year to go diving in Sodwana is between April and September (which is when our trips usually take place).
When you reach Sodwana, you will realise just how fitting this name is. It truly is as if you’ve stepped onto a little island of your own (or maybe not entirely your own since it’s not that secluded). It’s quiet and peaceful and if you’re not a diver or at least a snorkeler, you will probably be bored out of your mind. There’s about a handful of little shops close by and apart from that, you’ve basically got the beach and the lodge or wherever else you might be staying. But this is not actually a bad thing. I think most of us can attest to the fact that life in the 21st century is hectic and getting away from the hustle and bustle every now and then can only be a good thing. This is the perfect place to recharge because if you’re not diving, you’ll probably end up cracking open that book you’ve been meaning to get to, taking a nap in the middle of the day, just chilling out on the beach or taking a stroll along the shoreline. Can you imagine anything more relaxing?
If you want the experience of a tropical holiday a little closer to home, you don’t have to look any further than Sodwana Bay.
by Katia E Theron