Underwater diving is one of those past-times that is far more than a hobby, it becomes a passion. To see a world so unlike the one above water that we live in, teeming with life and abundant, vibrant colour is something no words can accurately convey.
Diving was once only done by those who got a license to do so, and were instructed properly on the usage of dive equipment and the precautions to take. Today however, diving instructors are happy to take people out on dives so they, as amateur or first-timers can see the world the instructor and all other divers fell in love with.
The Garden Route Diving
The Garden Route in sunny South Africa is world famous for being one of the most beautiful drives in existence. The lush landscapes and rolling hills, the turquoise of the crashing surf, and gently swaying palm leaves welcome people to the West Coast like nothing else can. In a small town along the Garden Route, lies On the Beach, a five-star accommodation in Wilderness which matches the verdant landscape perfectly and blends relaxation and comfort with effortless luxury. Bookings here are urged to be made in advance since rooms do go quickly, and come ready for a gorgeous diving experience – the Garden Route is not named purely for the gardens above ground.
An Underwater Garden
The Garden Route comprises many little towns and inlets along the West Coast, but for diving it is namely Mossel Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and Port Elizabeth which are all a stone’s throw from Wilderness. Since the diving scene is still so quiet in the area, the area remains untouched and unspoiled by visitors, a natural and abundant landscape just waiting to be captured in photos. If you think the Garden Route above ground is gorgeous, just wait until you see it underwater. Plankton blooms here thanks to prevailing summer SE winds, which draw invertebrates.
What You Can See
There are entire forests of Gorgonian Fans playing hosts to basket stars as massive orange sponges move slowly across them. There are massive anemone gardens complete with jewel anemones twinkling from below. You’ll find Cup Corals and Feather Stars in large quantities, Brittle Stars, Nudibranch, Sea Hares, Pipefish, Horsefish, turtles of varying types and so much more. If you’re any kind of photographer at all, be sure you bring an underwater camera, there are some disposables out there which are made to go underwater. This is something you absolutely must see to believe.
Although you can find sharks here of varying types and sizes, the only one most concern themselves with are the Great White Sharks. There is a massive shark diving scene here in South Africa where divers can lower themselves in cages to get up close and personal with a baited shark who comes right up to the cage. If that is your particular thrill, then you’ll have no problem finding it here. If however, you want a serene and majestic excursion underwater, free of being bothered by a shark – your diver guide is sure to know all the spots that are virtually free of them, but like anything, there is always a small risk you’ll still encounter one. Sharks don’t tend to respond aggressively to people, so even if you do see one, they are likely to leave you in peace and are only curious about you if anything. Free of baiting, they don’t usually get near people.
What to Bring
If you’re going for a dive, you don’t want to wear any clothing that you don’t mind taking off because you’re going to end up in a wet-suit. Under that wet-suit you’ll have only a tank top (for women) and a pair of tight fitting shorts – think bicycle shorts for both men and women. The rest is just your own bare skin, the wet-suit will keep you both warm, and dry. Do not apply any fragrances or lotions on your skin, they can pollute the water. You can bring along your camera, but some diving agents will provide photography, so be sure you ask if you’re unsure, or to plan more effectively. You can bring along your favourite towel if you like, but you’ll have that provided as well. Things to bring for after the dive, are small bottles of shampoo and conditioner as well as a travel size soap. Some of the diving agents will provide you with a shower after you return from the sea, and it’s best to be prepared. Other than these small things, you need only bring your enthusiasm and curiosity!
There are plenty of places you can choose to go snorkeling or diving, so be sure you call around to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want from the business for your money. Every place tends to offer something a bit different than the rest to set themselves apart, so be sure to ask questions.