Jeffrey’s Bay, a surfers’ paradise in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, is known for its spectacular waves and outstanding surfing opportunities. However, the warm Indian Ocean waters are, in fact, perfect for all kinds of water sports and beach activities, not least of all SCUBA diving and snorkelling.
Because the waters off Jeffrey’s Bay are actually quite close to the beginning of the chilly Atlantic Ocean (which start officially at Cape Point in Cape Town), they can get quite cold during the winter months. This means that wetsuits are essential. During the summer months (December to March), though, the sea is generally very pleasant with an average water temperature of between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius.
The marine life of the Eastern Cape is fascinating and plentiful, granting SCUBA divers and snorkellers a unique peek into the diversity and abundance that exists below the water’s surface. During the time between July and December, divers can even look forward to spotting a Humpback or Southern Right as it makes its way along the South African coastline, often with their young following closely. To enjoy this spectacle from the surrounding waters, the whales’ own habitat, is an experience that visitors will never forget.
The Bottlenose Dolphins and various species of sharks (particularly the Great White Shark) are also common sights for divers off the coast of Jeffrey’s Bay. Watching these incredible creatures glide through the waters and interact with one another is both humbling and impressive. Of course, for those that want to get even closer to such mammoth hunters as the Great White, shark cage diving is a safer alternative.
There are exquisite reefs lining the Eastern Cape coastline, with scores of fish darting through and around them in playfulness. These reefs range in depth from 10 metres to about 50 metres, accommodating a range of different species, depending on their optimal living depth. There are also the remnants of the many shipwrecks that have occurred along the Jeffrey’s Bay coast after centuries of explorations. These will fascinate those that are interested in the history of these maritime ventures as well as those that simply want to experience the fauna and flora that have made these wrecks their home.
SCUBA diving requires a certain level of qualification and you will, no doubt, need to have a crash course before being able to participate. However, training schools are available in Jeffrey’s Bay and the courses can be completed within about one week. In addition, there are local schools and outlets that hire out the equipment and wetsuits required and conduct regular tours out to sea. Some of these service providers have speciality dives, such as night dives or deep sea excursions.
Snorkelling, of course, does not require any specific courses or tours. Always be aware of currents, though, and do not venture out into unfamiliar territory.
People to contact in Jeffreys Bay are:
Ocean Adventures - Marthinus v.d. Westhuizen
Telephone (073) 1300 689 (South Africa) or +27 (73) 1300 689 (international)
J’Bay Underwater Club - 072 7555 125