The program runs from two locations throughout the year. From May to August it is based at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa. From September to November it is based at Guinjata Bay, Mozambique.
ALIWAL SHOAL – SOUTH AFRICA
During students time at Scottburgh, accommodation, meals and diving facilities are provided by our partner company – Blue Wilderness Shark Adventures. Learn more about Blue Wilderness here Our students and staff are housed in private house with a number of dorms and shared rooms where students stay. The house looks out over the sea and is a safe haven to relax in after a day of learning and fun out at sea.
The Blue Wilderness dive centre is right near the waters edge a short drive from the accommodation. The centre offers free tea and coffee for post-dive relaxing, and is set out with a table and chairs, hot showers and other things to make your relaxation time more enjoyable. The dive centre offers a full range of gear. Cylinders, BCDs, regulators, weight belts, masks, fins and wetsuits are available for our students. the centre uses 2x8m rubber ducks for diving expeditions. There is also a compressor on site to fill cylinders.
The SCUBA dives of Aliwal Shoal
Shark drift dive
The ‘Shark Drift Dive’ at Aliwal Shoal is one of the most famous and exciting dives in Southern Africa. The dive is a baited dive with a small chum drum that hangs approximately 6m from the surface. Divers drift along using the chum drum as a reference points. Attracted to the smell is a resident population of between 10 and 30 Oceanic back tip sharks. For shark photography, this dive is absolutely a sharky paradise.
Raggies Cave, one of the most popular dive sites on Aliwal Shoal, boasts numerous species of fish, coral and sponge encrusted rocks in the area make for interesting critter viewing including various nudibranchs, eels, stonefish and much more. The main attraction of course being it’s name sake, the ragged tooth sharks (or grey nurse sharks) which visit the reef during the mating season from late May to November. Maximum depth 18m.
Chunnel Cave is the ideal dive site for Open Water Divers that want to experience sharks, turtles, rays and much more. The name comes from the formation in the reef of a large opening on either end forming a cylindrical swim through 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 pineapple fish. Bring the family or even just your camera for life-long memories of this beautiful piece of the planet. Maximum depth 14m.
The Nebo Wreck, having sunk in 1884 sits at a depth of 27m. She turned over and sank in heavy seas with her cargo of railway materials on the 20 May 1884 and is now a national monument. This wooden wreck is fairly intact, having broken into two parts and is an interesting dive especially the swim through at the propeller. On this wreck kingfish, salmon and many tropical fish can be sighted. It is one of the few places on Aliwal Shoal where you can lose sight of your buddy because of the amount of small fish in the water. The reason for the wreckage has two rumours: The first being that on her Maiden Voyage from Durban to Sunderland she hit the pinnacles. The second rumour being that she was carrying a heavy load of bridge materials which was incorrectly packed. A rogue wave hit her in rough seas, subsequently pushing her over causing her to overturn and sink.
While the Nebo Wreck sits at 27m your average dive profile is around 17-19m. The wooden sleepers she was carrying can still be seen and make home for natal cat fish, harlequin goldies, scorpion fish, rays and much more. While diving, look up every now and then as you may see hammerheads passing or a bull shark chasing down a ray. The dive requires an Advanced Open Water Diver qualification however, as an Open Water diver we can offer you an adventure dive with an Instructor at an additional cost, which will count towards your advanced course or speciality when you decide to continue your PADI education.
Northern Pinnacles is best for honeycomb morays and rays, shoals of reef fish and juvenile fish. On the northeastern end of the shoal, formed by a spine of rock formations that rise up from the sea bed forming a series of gullies, caves and potholes. Look out for some of our incredibly well camouflaged critters, including leaf fish, various eels, paper fish and a school of resident batfish. This is also a good spot to see mantas during the season. This is a shallow reef, which was responsible for the sinking of the MV Produce in 1974 and is attributed to having had a hand in sinking the SS Nebo in 1884. Maximum depth 18m.
Cathedral is one of the most popular dive sites on Aliwal Shoal, known for the haven of ragged tooth sharks during the mating season. It’s a large amphitheatre structure with entrance either via the large front archway, through the roof or a swim through. A visually stunning rock formation leads to a crater like centre forming an enclosed area that shelters from the currents and surges. Also look out for various other attractions such as cuttlefish, moray eels and other special critters that your dive master will show you. Maximum depth 27m.
South Sands offers great opportunities for spotting large groups of rays and dolphins, which enjoy playing in the openness of this site. It is a large sand patch with fragmented patches of coral reef, great for finding shark teeth. Look up and out into the blue for passing schools of game fish, and other large fish and white-tip reef sharks or even the occasional hammerhead shark. Look in the small ledges on the outskirts for crayfish and natal sea catfish and many colourful nudibranchs. South Sands is also the ideal location to start your drift dive from south of the reef, ending off at North Pinnacles getting yourself acquainted with multiple sites on a single dive. Maximum depth 17m.
The MV Produce was a Norwegian bulk ship carrying molasses that sank on 11 August 1974 after colliding with the Aliwal Shoal. No lives were lost as local commercial fisherman rescued all the sailors. The true heroes of that day were Tony Janssen, Clive Homes, Piet De Jager and Ross Hitchins. The story goes that the Captain was “napping” at the time of the collision. These four heroes were among the first on the scene along with the SAS Oranjeland (saving 14 crew members) & a South African Airforce Helicopter (saving 3). Our heroes managed to save 17 crew members within 4 hours, about the same time it took for the MV Produce to sink. None of the crew members suffered any injury other than a mild case of shock. Tony Janssen aka Cook, is still manning the Umkomaas River mouth launch site to this day.
The wreck has started to break up in the last few years and penetration dives are not advised. She is 119m long and lies on her starboard side at about 32m deep. Diving the MV Produce isn’t always entirely possible should the visibility be bad, currents be flying or for Open Water qualified divers. The Produce is home to the mighty brindle bass, harlequin goldies, lionfish, salmon and kingfish as well as an abundance of other colourful tropical fish.
GUINJATA BAY – MOZAMBIQUE
Our students and staff are housed in a hotel named Casa do Mar. The building offers comfortable rustic housing for the program, including a number of dorm and shared rooms where students stay. The building looks out over the reefs and beach of Guinjata bay, and students wake up daily to the smell of warm local bread and the splashes of humpback whales playing in the bay.
The Guinjata dive centre is the centre of the social and beach life of Guinjata. The centre has a full bar for post-dive relaxing, and is set out with deck chairs, a volleyball court and everything needed for the simple beach life of Mozambique.
The dive centre offers a full range of expertly maintained ScubaPro gear. cylinders, BCDs, regulators, weight belts, masks, fins, wetsuits and dive computers are available for our students. the centre uses two 8m rubber ducks for diving expeditions.
The SCUBA dives of Guinjata Bay
Average depth 12m – Maximum depth 16m
The reef starts on a shallow depth of 6m and then descends down to 12m. Sharks are spotted often and game fish pass by just as frequently. The reef and coral is brightly coloured and teaming with life and interesting little critters. This is a great night dive where you are almost certain to spot turtles sleeping under the ledges.
Average depth 18m – Maximum depth 24m
Experienced Dive Masters will introduce you to the reef’s inquisitive Manta Rays and diving protocols to interact with them. Manta Reef is one of the most pristine dive sites in the world and is only 10km away from Guinjata Resort. being one of the only two registered Manta-cleaning stations makes this reef known world wide !
Average depth 9m – Maximum depth 12m
Cave is an amphitheatre with a swim through cave that features a resident dragon moray eel, pufferfish, miniature tobies as well as murex and conch shells.
Average depth 10m – Maximum depth 12m
Situated close to Paindane. This is a perfect dive site for open water students. It starts at 5m and you can make your way down to depths of 12m. A reef barrier protects this site, which is also fantastic for snorkeling.
Average depth 20m – Maximum depth 30m
This reef has a plateau with steep ledges and deep crevices, ass well as scattered rock formations and arches that form great swim troughs. This is home to Manta Rays with small cleaning stations on the Northern Pinnacle of the reef. Extasy Reef is truly justified by its name and you can expect a great amount of excitement throughout the whole dive.
Average depth 12m – Maximum depth 18m
Devils Peak is an almost free standing rock with a swim through and is home to potato bass, banded cleaner shrimp and frogfish.
Average depth 22m – Maximum depth 38m
A perfect spot for the adventure seeker ! This new dive site has a ledge on 20m and drops straight down to 45m. On the way down, keep your eyes to the open waters to see if you can spot the huge schools of game fish prowling along. Named after the abundance of marine life, you will feel like you are in the middle of Disneyland with just as much to see.
Average depth 15m – maximum depth 22m
Situated only 850m from shore it is a very short boat ride. As you ascend to about 15m you get to the top of the wall and then pass along a table like surface gradually descending to a depth of 18m. keep your eyes open for the most spectacular and interesting creatures you have ever seen ! The reefs main attractions are cleaning shrimp found at the end of the dive. In 2015 the sea moths came back and we had many great dives with those.
Average depth 18m -Maximum depth 24m
Experience the amazing feeling when descending onto a reef between families of green turtles, which do not even seem bothered by presence of divers. The depths range from 14m to 20m and it is situated only minutes away from Guinjata resort.
Average depth 12m – Maximum depth 18m
Pao Rock and the Pinnacles are a macro photographer’s first choice with brightly coloured nudibranches, well-camouflaged leaf fish and a variety of shrimp not to mention hundreds of nemos.