Mention scuba diving to any South African, and chances are that first thoughts are of Sodwana Bay. It’s not only us, either. Sodwana Bay is also a well-known dive site internationally and is rated as one of the top places in the world to don your mask and fins.
Sodwana was proclaimed a national park in 1950 and covers 413 hectares of sand dunes and forests, as well as the priceless stretch of ocean that lies within its boundaries.
Beginner divers are often brought to Sodwana for their first ‘open-water’ dive, so there is no need to be intimidated by this stretch of ocean. And if you have always wanted to give it a go but have never had the time or the opportunity, then you can do a diving course right here.
There are 14 main reefs to explore, and divers can hope to see numerous species of shark, coral, rays, dolphins, whales and turtles. There are also all sorts of the little fish that give the reefs their colour and life.
Sodwana offers surfing, snorkelling, fishing and turtle tours.
The sea isn’t the only attraction. Visitors can also take a hike on a trail to the nearby Ngobozeleni Lake. Keep an eye out for the many special birds for which this trail is known. The blue-mantled crested flycatcher, Woodward’s batis, green coucal and crested guineafowl are all seen fairly often. The lake itself plays host to a wide variety of waterfowl. Game can also be seen on the way, such as suni, duiker and other antelope species.
Look around and you’ll also find a few alternative activities to keep you occupied, from kiteboarding to paintball and quad biking.
Look out for
Scuba diving – if you go to Sodwana, it is almost compulsory to take the plunge and explore the undersea world. If scuba diving is too scary or expensive, then go snorkelling instead.
Fishing charters – the fishing is as good as the diving. Sodwana is noted for its billfish and countless other game fish species. Marlin and sailfish can both be targeted offshore, while the surf fishing is also very good.
Surfing – have the complete beach holiday by taking your surfboard and spending some time hanging ten.
Turtle tour – like much of the Elephant Coast, spring and summer at Sodwana offers the opportunity of getting up close and personal with giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles. They make their ponderous way up the beaches to lay their eggs.
Lake Sibaya – this huge, crystal-clear lake does not attract as many visitors as it deserves, but is another birding hot spot in the area. Take a picnic and explore the shores for the day.