Welcome to Oceanworx Dive Charters, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa         







What to see



Humpback Whales

Ragged Tooth Sharks

Tiger Sharks

Whale Sharks

Manta Rays


Time of Year

All year round!

All year round!

June to November

June to November

December to June

December to February

Their season varies from year to year, they're a bit unpredictable!

January - June

July - December


22° - 28°c

18° - 24°c


3 - 5mm wetsuit advised

5 - 7mm wetsuit advised

Due to the nature of the weather on the South Coast, all dives are conducted in the mornings. As the day continues, the wind tend to pick up which makes for a bumpier boat ride as well as affecting the diving conditions.

Dives are conducted as 'drift' dives where the divers follow a certified Dive Master who carries a buoy line. The skipper in turn follows the Dive Master from the surface and picks up the divers at the end of their dive.

Dives are usually 'timed out' at about 55 minutes to ensure the boat runs on schedule for the next group of divers. However, if it is the boats last launch of the day, you are welcome to dive for longer.

We book all dives to 'Aliwal Shoal' as a general area but the exact destination on Aliwal Shoal is determined on the day of the dive based on the following:

  • Current & waves
  • Dive experience of the group
  • What the divers would like to see
  • Where the group has already dived on Aliwal Shoal

If you have any special requests for a particular dive site, please let us know in advance so that we may be able to accommodate your request, especially if you would like to dive one of our 'Advanced Dive' wrecks in the area.

Aliwal Shoal, or "The Shoal" as we affectionately term the reef system, is a Marine Protected Area (MPA).  The Shoal gets it’s name from the ship captained by Captain Aliwal. Captain Aliwals’ vessel was the first ship to strike the Shoal thus the reefs’ name.

Aliwal Shoal is a stretch of reef that is roughly 3km in length and approximately 1km wide at its widest point.  The reef has an abundance of fish life and corals, both soft and hard. The real beauty is only really appreciated once it has been dived.  The reef has many unique dive sites that can be entirely different to any other site on the same reef whether it be the topography or marine life and flora/fauna. It is rated as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, so it's easy to see why this reef is so popular.

Besides the beautiful reef and the formidable 'Produce' ship wreck, Aliwal Shoal is the gathering ground for ragged-tooth sharks, where a dive amongst these spectacular creatures is truly an unforgettable experience. Aliwal Shoal has been largely renowned as an excellent shark diving. The reef forms part of the offshore reef system that runs along most of the Natal coast, this system was formed by submerged dunes between eighteen and ten thousand years ago.

The reef offers varied, spectacular and thrilling diving where no two dives are the same. There is an abundance of hard and soft coral, stunning coral fish and sponges to be seen, but the greatest attraction for divers must surely be the concentration of ragged-tooth sharks.

The sharks offer fantastic photo opportunities, as one may approach very close, but divers should always keep in mind that sharks are some of the most unpredictable creatures on earth and care must be taken not to aggravate or provoke them.

Shoals of hammerhead sharks have been sighted on Aliwal in the past, while other species such as the fairly dangerous Zambezi shark have also been spotted occasionally. Whale sharks are quite common, and an absolute pleasure to see. Apart from these awe inspiring creatures, there are also big sea turtles, huge potato bass, game fish such as Kingfish, Cuda and Tunny to be seen on the reef.

The Aliwal Shoal depth ranges from 9m to a maximum depth of 27m, with a visibility of anything between 2m to 30m+.

Chunnel, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Chunnel Cave

Average depth: 12m

Maximum depth: 14m

Chunnel Cave on Aliwal Shoal is the ideal dive site for Open Water Divers, this dive site leaves you wanting for nothing that an Advanced Open Water would see on any other deeper dive. As an Open Water diver you still get to experience Sharks, Turtles, Various Rays and so much more. Need we mention the awesome swim through? The picture speaks for itself.

Chunnel Cave, or just plain Chunnel as known by the locals, offers a protective resting area for the Raggies (Ragged tooth sharks / Grey Nurse Sharks / Spotted Sand Tiger Shark) during Raggy season (from May to around December). Raggy etiquette doesn’t allow entry to the cave when the raggies are around so as not to disturb them nor invade their space.

The name Chunnel Cave comes from the formation in the reef of a large opening on either end forming a cylindrical swim through or cave of around 10m in length, with a bit of a dog leg to the right. To the left of where the cave’s right hand junction is, there’s a small cavern offering shelter to smaller plankton feeding fish, such as Pine Apple fish.

Lots of ledges for an exciting hunt of Marine Life Treasure. (To be admired and not taken of course) Due to the unique topography of Chunnel Cave, you can dive multiple dives in a row and never get bored, with different currents and entry points Chunnel looks different most of the time. The shallow sections create an up welling of plankton attracting Mantas and is situated at the most southern part of Northsands make it possible to also see dolphins.

Great for family diving, course dives and just plain old fun dives alike. Bring the family or even just your camera for life long memories of this beautiful piece of the planet.

Cathedral, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Cathedral is probably one of the most famous dive sites on Aliwal Shoal. It is a massive solution sinkhole on the outside of the reef. It consists of an archway on the sand at about 27m that divers can swim through producing an area of about 9 sqm, which results in a chimney from the sand at 27m all the way up to 17m on the top of the reef. Inside the chimney one can find the very rare Paper fish and equally rare Frog fish. During Raggie Season up to 60 sharks can be swimming in the Cathedral. This is a great dive site no matter what the current direction, either N-S or S-N, divers can follow the outside edge in either direction as well as multi-level up to between 14 - 17m to maximize dive times. As divers continue with their dive, they can view Potato Bass, Turtles and large rays in the caves and gullies either side of Cathedral.

Amphitheatre, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

The Amphitheatre off the northern edge of the reef has depths ranging from 16m - 33m. The area consists of an "amphitheatre" like shape where the very rare Leafy Scorpion fish can be found. The area also has "finger like" pinnacles with caves and swim-throughs, with lots of sandy patches. During the annual migration of the Ragged Tooth Shark, this can be an excellent dive site to view the sharks during the late morning and early afternoon. This site is a very interesting one with very drastic topography.

Cowrie, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Located south of Castle, about 1.5km out smaller than castle but with all the large reef formations, crannies and a small amphitheatre make it a very interesting reef. Yes there is a surprising amount of cowrie shells found here hence its name. Why? We have no idea. There is also a large number of the green variety of black coral trees on the reef, interspersed with the ‘white’ black coral trees. The large rock formations being there provide some lovely drops of about 10m.The usual soft corals sponges, and hard corals are found with the local fish species, makes this seldom dived reef very interesting.

Tiger Ledge, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

Located inshore of Castle this ledge rivals the inside edge of Aliwal Shoal. The size of it is, well unknown, due to it not being dived that often. We do know that the min depth is 18m and max is 28m so it is a nice 10m high ledge. With many swim-throughs, overhangs where lots can be seen or discovered. Once we have more info we will up date you with all the awesome things we find here.

Castle, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

The much talked about, Castle Reef is located south of Aliwal Shoal directly opposite the Scottburgh launch site. The size of it is about 400m in diameter with a maximum depth of +/- 22m, min depth +/- 15m. On this prime reef there is lots of gullies running NE, SW with a large swim through on the northern section. There are countless overhangs and small caves where the most unusual fish hide, so a good torch is recommended. There are some amazing rock formations, which will make an awesome backdrop for the avid photographer. We have seen lots of Nudibranchs and rays even the very shy cuttlefish have been spotted, and if you are wondering about Raggies yes we have seen them here too, of course only in Raggie season. Talking to the shark researchers, the tiger shark appears to frequent the reef regularly. This reef we can say has a lot to offer the underwater adventurer!

'MV' Produce, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

On the 12th of August 1974 a Molasses Bulk carrier called the MV Produce hit the pinnacles of Aliwal Shoal and floundered fortunately no lives were lost but as a result it offers divers coming to this reef an opportunity to dive on an awesome wreck. The wreck is broken in two pieces, the Bow and the Stern. The mid-ship is scattered in-between. This is an amazing dive for wreck enthusiasts as there are many penetration points. The big attraction however is not the wreck itself but rather its major inhabitants, those being the Brindle Bass. There is a family of Brindle bass on the wreck and at times divers can view at least 4/5 of these massive fish. The weight of these fish is roughly 600kilograms!!!!  Divers diving on this wreck are stunned time and time again. The depths at this site range between 16m-32m. The usual reef fish also inhabit this wreck as well as Devil fire fish, Lionfish, scorpion and Stonefish. Divers also get the chance to see massive rays at the site.