Rating – High Season
As it is a reef dive the season is all year round. For people that enjoy a good drift dive with dramatic topography and good fish life, this is it. This dive rates 10/10.
Rating – Low Season
Rating – As A Dive
It works well for a well-controlled group with a mixture of beginner divers that are able to maintain good bouancy, to advanced divers.
If Aliwal Shoal is compared to a mountain range, lying parallel to the coast, then outside edge would be facing out to sea. Aliwal Shoal includes every conceivable type of formation from, caves, overhangs, drop offs, pinnacles, gullies etc.
This 1km dive is usually considered when there is a strong “Aliwal Express” current present to transport divers, either North South or South North. On a North South current one usually boards the Aliwal Express at The Pinnacles or Manta Point.
One is then carried, with little effort, to it’s terminal point at Cathedral. Beginners can navigate to certain landmarks without a familiarity of the area, by simply observing and sticking to certain depth contours.
Once passed the pinnacle area one moves onto the 15 to 17m depth contour, by moving out to sea if you are too shallow or moving shoreward if you are too deep.
This ensures that you hit the Raggies Cave area. Once passed this landmark, progress deeper to the 20 to 24m depth contour always moving out to sea. At this point the reef swings out to sea slightly to hit the next landmark called Cathedral.
The reef then tends to flatten out further south but one still comes across some spectacular spots that are seldom dived as most dives are terminated at Cathedral.
On a South North current the opposite of the above plan is dived. Remember that you have to work your way inshore constantly after leaving Cathedral to find Raggies Cave.
Starting quite shallowly at 12m and dropping off to 27m in some places. Most of the action is around the 18m mark and this depth need not be exceeded for the beginner to have an excellent dive.
This dive works well year round on the days when the currents are strong, making the diving of a particular site difficult for all but the very experienced.
Outside Edge works well on a strong North south or South North current, normally referred to as the “Aliwal Express”
This dive is famous for the sightings of turtles, huge cowries and triton shells. There are numerous caves and swim throughs along this dive where you least expect to find them.
The selection of fish offers the full range tropical fish types that the Aliwal Shoal has to offer.
Throughout this dive you should always look up, as this area is usually patrolled by pelagic such as Kingfish, Tuna and Barracuda in the summer months as well as packs of Hammerheads in search of a meal.
The vehicle that makes this long dive possible for the non- marathon swimmer is the Aliwal Express, which at times is flowing like a river in flood.
The Shoal is famous for these strong currents and the wise diver is able to take advantage for a fantastic relaxed dive.
The dangers on this dive are related to the current that it works best in. It is vitally important that you stay with the Dive Master as he is being pulled along by the buoy line.
Divers have to be constantly aware of their depth and their air consumption. Due to the gentle gradient one often plans an 18 dive only to find oneself at 26m and low on air.
Apart from the usual marine hazards such as Scorpion Fish etc. Divers have to be constantly aware of their depth and their air consumption. Due to the gentle gradient one often plans an 18 dive only to find oneself at 26m and low on air.