Gordon’s Bay, False Bay
The quirky beach town of Gordon’s Bay has a lot to offer for water and beach lovers, but it is less known for its scuba diving. Because of the temperamental waters at this side of the bay where conditions can change rapidly in a few hours, we hardly ever get to dive this area. However, when the strong South Eastern summer wind starts blowing this place reveals itself as a hidden gem for scuba divers.
On a Sunday morning in November we finally – after several cancelled attempts – got the opportunity to see what this side of False Bay has to offer. We know from several shore dives that Gordon’s Bay is known for its macro life, but little had us prepared for the stunning reef that lay ahead. At 9am sharp we made our way to Steenbras Deep, a max 30 metres dive about 11 km from Harbour Island. This being said, Cape diving is not for the weak and it threw in a curve ball or two as the sun stayed away, light rain (!) was falling and the wind changed in a less favourable westerly direction.
This however did not change our excitement for the dive ahead. The boat ride was smooth and spotting baby seals, penguins and having a close encounter with two Bryde’s whales swimming just underneath the boat only added to the joyous atmosphere before the dive. Once out there and kitted up, we descended along the shot line presenting us with less than 2 metre visibility – by Cape divers well described as ‘pea soup’. After going to a thermocline near the top of the reef at about 17 metres the temperature dropped to a chilly but not unpleasant 14 degrees and although still dark, the visibility cleared to about 5 metres. All in all, normal Cape conditions.
What was less ‘normal’ was what we got to see on this reef. From hearing about Steenbras Deep the expectations were rather high, but the life on this spot was mindblowing and it instantly became one of our best dive sites in the False Bay. Sea fans so large they dwarfed the divers! Basket stars, nudibranchs, pyjamasharks… There were rarely seen large schools of fish and such an abundance of macro life and movement on the reef. We managed to capture a small fraction of awesome photos in the 30 odd minute bottom time, but it was simply too short to fully explore the extent of this site. The true appreciation for this site cannot be captured in photos and you need to get out there and dive it for yourself. It is well worth the effort and you will be rewarded with some of the most fantastic underwater scenery in Cape Town.
If the (in)famous Cape Doctor keeps on blowing this summer and cleans up the water this side of the bay, you can bet on us diving here much more often!