Some people love it, others hate it: winter. Being from The Netherlands winter in the Cape cannot be compared to winter up North. Sure, the temperature occasionally drops below zero degrees and we do get some snow in the mountains, but overall the winters are rather mild and (if we are lucky) bring some much needed rain. In between all that, you can expect sunny skies and a pleasant 18-ish degrees. And even better, with winter comes amazing diving and that is exactly what we have been having in False Bay over the last two months.
As for most diving destinations, the wind plays a large factor in how the conditions underwater will be and the Cape is not different. In general it can be stated that summer winds (from the southeast) are less favourable for the area of Simon’s Town in False Bay as it can strongly decrease the visibility in this part of the bay. However, we are lucky to have more options as the Atlantic and Rooi Els on the other sides of False Bay, which clean up in summer. Simon’s Town is by far the place to be in winter – due to mostly a north-northwesterly wind blowing – which means amazing visibility and a flat ocean. So even for those who dislike winter – including myself – the great diving by far makes up for it.
Without a doubt it can be stated that we currently have been spoiled for weeks. The northerly wind has done its job well and turned False Bay in a “lake” with visibility over 15 meters on most of the shore dives. Therefore every free moment was spend diving, training or for pure pleasure, and it was worth every minute. Dive sites as Windmill Beach and A-frame have been so clear that we got lost because we saw areas we never noticed before.
Both these dive sites are known for its incredible colourful walls and boulders. The corals and sea fans flourish in abundance and especially the macro life is mind blowing. There are people claiming the Cape isn’t that colourful as some of the more tropical reefs, but those divers definitely have not giving it a fair change then. Sure, the there are no big schools of guppies or moral idols and we don’t have clown fish, but what we do have is overwhelming in a complete different manner. And on those winter days when the bay is flat and the water crystal clear, there is no more exciting or beautiful place I rather dive than at home in the Cape.
We all know that the Cape Town area is famous for the iconic Table Mountain, forever views of Cape Point, its stunning beaches around Camps Bay and not to forget the world class wine farms. However an often forgotten sight seeing destination is underwater. The Cape Peninsula has a unique aquatic environment as two of the major oceans meet at Cape Point, bringing together the best of both worlds. We find that this is something well worth exploring.
To get a broad orientation, we can divide the Cape Peninsula in those two areas. On the West you find the Atlantic Ocean, roughly stretching from Cape Point all the way up the coast toward Namibia and on the East side the Indian Ocean is located which covers the area of False Bay. In general terms we can state that False Bay is the ‘warmer’ side as it is influenced by the Indian Ocean, where the Atlantic side is well.. colder. Although the water temperature is an often heard excuse to not dive around the Cape, you can take our word for it that it will not disappoint.
There are many aspects that make this area extremely attractive for diving, starting with the many options we have to access dives sites via shore entries. This means no boat arrangements, seasickness tablets or extra costs, but simply kit up and walk in at any time! So if you so don’t mind the slight chill, you will be rewarded with a unique experience and have the chance to spot species that do not exist anywhere else in the world.
People often ask us why we love diving in the Cape so much as “there is no tropical fish life”? While this is indeed correct, the amount of other (small and big) life and the colours of the reef are stunning. Honestly, diving in the Cape is never boring! As mentioned, this place has features that no other place in the world has. Firstly, we are blessed with humpback whales, dolphins, southern right whales, orcas, Cape fur seals and yes, the great white shark. Where that last one might not sound like much of a good thing, they are magnificent animals and are a protected species in South Africa. To set your mind at ease, they do not like scuba divers and are therefore very very rarely spotted while diving. Secondly, there are four absolute must see’s/do’s while diving in the Cape, namely: dive in the kelp forests, play with the Cape fur seals, explore one of the many wrecks (this place is called “Cape of Storms” for a reason) and jump in with the ancient seven-gill cow sharks.
In the coming blogs these dives will be highlighted in more details and hopefully it will show why we love Cape Town diving so much and never let a week go without having a peek underwater!