Rating – High Season
July to November
If its Raggies that you want its Raggies that you will get. This dive definitely gets a 9/10 during this season.
Rating – Low Season
December to June
There may not be the raggies but with the dramatic scenery and abundance of fish life at this site it still scores a good 9/10
Rating – As A Dive
One of the only drawbacks is the depth (27m). This is not a suitable dive for Open Water Divers. It however must be rated 9/10, and should be good enough reason for Open Water divers to do an Advanced course.
Cathedral is located on the outside edge of the Aliwal Shoal. It is a fantastic location with very rugged terrain comprising of mountains, caves and plateaus.
Cathedral is part of a plateau that has had a massive, almost circular, hole blown out of it. The hole is approximately 15m in diameter, and more or less conforms to a circular shape.
If one sits in the middle of cathedral you are surrounded by an eight-meter stone wall all around you with the sole exits being a stunning archway out to sea or through the “roof ” of cathedral so to speak.
If one is facing out to sea there is a cave system on your right hand side and a concealed exit via a swim through on your left.
If you swim through the archway there is a 3m ledge on your right hand side that leads you towards the Southern side of the reef onto a sandy section punctuated with small outcrops of reef and seaweed.
Should you turn, North however, this will lead you into the False Cathedral area.
If one exits via the top or roof of Cathedral one comes upon a flat section of the Aliwal Shoal which is covered in a brown marine growth that is contrasted by the weirdest shaped sponges I’ve seen.
The top plateau section of Cathedral is at 19m and as one enters the Cathedral it drops down to 27m at the bottom. One can spend quite a lot of time on the sides of the internal 8m walls giving you an average depth of 21m.
Cathedral works best in a slight current so as to make it into the Cathedral easily. With a good skipper and experienced divers this can be a fantastic dive in the strong currents as it offers total protection once you are inside the Cathedral.
Cathedral comes into it’s own during the winter months July – November when the raggies (Sand Tigers) arrive for their yearly mating rituals.
It is then possible to sneak into the Cathedral via the concealed swim through on the left-hand side of the archway. You can then sit quietly and enjoy the spendour of these magnificent sharks almost undetected.
The Cathedral has at times up to 30 sharks swimming around inside. It is during these periods that it is a very hard dive to beat for the shark enthusiast.
The Cathedral is famous for the very rarely seen Pineapple Fish and Paper Fish. These can be found if you have an experienced divemaster that knows where to look.
With every Raggie (Sand Tiger) season the focus changes and it is the raggie that take center stage, and as I have described earlier this is when The Cathedral is unbeatable as a dive site anywhere in the World.
During this time it is also quite common to find shark teeth that the Raggies have shed on the sandy bottom. These teeth make nice momentos for a truly fantastic dive.
There are also the usual host of tropical fish that stop in at The Cathedral for refuge from the current like Angels, Wrass’s, Butterflies and Bass that abound on the outside edge.
This section of the reef presents its normal type of perils in the form of sharp rocks, reef oysters and corals, as well as hazardous fish such as the Scorpion and Lion Fish, which can inflict severely painful stings.