Aliwal Shoal is one of the top dives in South Africa and is certainly not to be missed. Aliwal Shoal is a 1.2 kilometer stretch located on the inner edge of the Mozambiquan current, which means pleasant temperatures all year-round and excellent diving visibility. The shoal is named for the Aliwal ship that narrowly avoided a crash into the sandbank during a voyage led by Captain James Anderson in 1849. In a report from 1850 in the Natal Witness, a local newspaper, the Captain stated “I observed a very large and dangerous rock, or shoal, with heavy breakers” and it has been known as Aliwal Shoal ever since. There are two wrecks in the area from less fortunate vessels, the Nebo and the Produce.
The site provides plenty of caves, pinnacles and gullies to explore, and you’ll certainly have plenty company as you do your exploring – over 1200 species of fish have been reported at Aliwal Shoal. It’s not only the fish that enjoy these waters, but turtles, mantas, pods of whales and schools of dolphins are all quite regular sightings. At varying times of the year, Aliwal Shoal is the ideal location to spot a number of sharks including the majestic tiger shark and sand tiger shark, otherwise known as a ragged tooth shark, who prefer to rest in the area between July and November. The site is also visited by Zambezi (bull) sharks, hammerheads and black tip reef sharks.