400px-Astronaut_photo_of_Cape_Town_STS081-738-23Cape Town False Bay offers the diver such variety and surprise that it is difficult to classify this coastline as any particular “type” of diving. Dive sites range vastly in bottom composition depending on where in False Bay you choose to dive. It fluctuates from rocky terrain characterized by the steep cliffs on the Western side of False Bay to sandy bottoms on the Eastern side. Gordon’s Bay, in particular, is characterized by a stony bottom of large, rounded boulders or flattened rock.

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A number of sites on both sides of the bay are distinguished by vast, dense and beautiful kelp forests that house any number of creatures such as Pajama sharks, Leopard catsharks and Puffadder shy sharks. These forests act as a filter for dirty water so divers will often experience mediocre conditions until entering the kelp whereupon the visibility improves dramatically.

Gordon’s Bay, Rooiels and Simonstown sites boast spectacular sea fans in bright oranges and reds which sway in the surge – another defining characteristic of dive conditions in the Cape.

The friendly Cape Fur Seal will often make an appearance on your dive. It might just be a fleeting glimpse but more often than not, your new dive buddy will hang around for some time. Sheer curiosity of the younger ones will have them diving in and out of your group and can often be seen imitating your movements. Be sure to keep your fingers well out of harms way though!

Divers will seldom see bare rock as every nook and cranny on the reef is carpeted by sea anemones of all colours imaginable, with feather stars in various hues of orange and brown, vying for space with soft corals in pinks and purples, making it a difficult task, yet very rewarding, to spot the many nudibranchs indemic to this region.

Box jellyfish are abundant throughout the Cape waters and a dive in Gordons Bay will seldom go by without a sighting of the root-mouthed jellyfish. Rooi Els dive spots are typified by very large orange sponges whereas Smitswinkel Bay, accessible via boat launch from Millers Point in Simonstown, is renowned for the fantastic wreck diving. All wrecks lie beyond basic open water one qualifications so Advanced certification is a must for divers wanting to explore scuttled navy vessels from yesteryear.

The East side of Falsebay is predominantly dived during the summer months due to strong south-easterly winds which blast the dirty surface water out of the bay. In contrast, the Western shoreline is a winter dive destination when the coldfront winds create cool, yet very clear conditions. Although, having said this, the unpredictable nature of Cape Town often allows a respite from these rigid guidelines, allowing divers to enjoy unseasonally great diving along both shorelines.