Large Coral colonies and sponges inevitably made their homes on top of the now solid sandstone creating the reef we see presently.

Aliwal Shoal Discovered!

The year 1849 marked an event that literally put Aliwal Shoal on the map. Captain James Anderson, who captained a vessel aptly named "Aliwal" discovered the northern pinnacle by chance and managed to avoid disaster. He submitted a report shortly afterwards in the Natal Witness in 1850 stating that he had discovered a previously uncharted pinnacle with large waves at times. In his news article he called upon the public at large to inform all captains and skippers of his findings. Three ships , the SS Nebo(1884), The Griqualand(1970) and Produce(1974) consequently sunk fairly close by. A lighthouse was commissioned and from that time period onwards the it has been faithfully guiding ships away from the danger zone.

A hundred years later the site was explored by scuba divers for the first time. Three decades later a thorough exploration of the reef was conducted to see if the Aliwal shoal had any commercial potential for a fast-growing scuba diving sport. The small town of Umkomaas became a scuba diving hotspot and is recognised worldwide as one of the top ten scuba diving reefs worldwide, primarily because of its unique structure, reef life, abundance of sharks and sub-tropical waters. There is no other dive site like it, with over 1200 documented fish species, many types of soft corals, some varieties of hard corals also thrive in cooler waters on the reef along with a variety of sea sponges, invertebrates, nudibranchs, cephalopods and a host of diverse sea life. The reef is also visited by pelagic fish species, dolphins, whales, and most importantly, sharks. Large groups of ragged tooth sharks trickle onto the reef in winter, bringing an attraction second to none.


Aliwal Shoal

Map of Aliwal Shoal with Dive Sites

There are many popular dive sites to explore on the Aliwal Shoal. We have however gone the extra mile and discovered new sites thanks to our skipper and able dive masters. Here are a list of well-knon dive sites.

Cathedral - One of most popular dive sites where we often take scuba divers. Read more for an in-depth look at the site.

Raggies Cave - Brilliant for ragged tooth shark sightings in winter, this is one of the best shark photography opportunities. At a maximum depth of 18 metres, this site is ideal for Open Water divers.

Produce - The most famous ship to run aground on the reef in 1974. The wreck teems with fish life and brindle bass.

SS Nebo - This British steamer fell victim to the shallow pinnacles of Aliwal Shoal. She sank after 15 minutes and lay quietly at rest for almost a century before she was first dived.

Chunnel - At only 14 meters depth, Chunnel and its small cave makes it ideal for Open Water diving.

Inside Edge - A magnificent wall that runs from north to south along the coastline and plunges some 10 metres from the reef plateau to the surrounding sand.

North Sands - There is more to North Sands than the scenery. Somewhat surprisingly, it is also one of the shoal’s most prolific dive sites in terms of marine life.

Beachfront Accommodation

Aliwal Shoal Scuba has ideal beachfront accommodation for all our scuba diving visitors. There are 4 Star Graded rooms that are of a very high standard and all have amazing sea views overlooking the Indian Ocean. Visit our accommodation page for more information.

Customer Transfers

We offer a comfortable shuttle service to and from the King Shaka Airport or any other port of call on request. Enquire about your travel requirements when booking with us and we will supply you with all the necessary information and pricing options.

Umkomaas Weather Report

Would you like to see the latest weather report? Visit our weather page for the latest data on wind, rain, sunshine, currents, waves and swell size. Bookmark the page for future reference! Local Weather Report

Aliwal Shoal - Underwater National Park

Let your adventure start! Learn more about what the shoal has to offer.


* We are available on + 27 (0) 82 800 4668 at all times