Sodwana Bay is one of South Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt beaches. Sodwana Bay lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park formerly the St.Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site on the South African Zululand Coast.
The pristine coral reefs of Sodwana has made it one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the world
SODWANA BAY “Little one on its own”
As one of South Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt beaches, Sodwana Bay lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the South African Zululand Coast. The pristine and protected coral reefs at Sodwana has distinguished it as one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the world.
Sodwana enjoys sub-tropical weather, with warm water year-round. Temperatures vary from very hot during summer to cool during the winter months.
The area is covered with dense coastal forest offering exquisite scenery, bird watching and a number of small mammals. The big five can be encountered at the game reserves and game lodges a short distance from Sodwana.
There is evidence that the Maputaland coast has been inhabited since the early Stone and Iron Ages. Arab and Portuguese traders made use of the sheltered Sodwana Bay to stock up with food and fresh water.
Sodwana is a popular destination for divers and visitors all year round.
Sodwana is a nesting site for Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles which lay their eggs at night on the beach from November to January. A prolific coelacanth breeding population was discovered of Sodwana Bay during 2000.
The Maputaland reefs are the most southern coral reefs in Africa. The absence of rivers and the warm Agulhas current creates this perfect environment for these reefs. Seasonal visitors to the reefs include ragged tooth sharks, humpback whales, whale sharks, nurse sharks and manta rays. Common, Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins are encountered throughout the year.
SODWANA BAY ACCOMMODATION:
Sodwana bay offers every type of accommodation. Camping, tents, chalets and lodge accommodation are available.
Restaurants in the area range from upmarket to basic fare or take aways from the beach kiosk.
Diving:The Maputaland coral reefs are the number one dive spot on any South African diver’s itinerary. It is the premier scuba dive destination within South Africa.
Most of the diving is done on four distinct reefs, namely 2 Mile, 5 Mile, 7 Mile and 9 Mile reefs, named for their distance from the Sodwana launch site at Jesser point.
Dives are done from semi-rigid inflatable boats that can take up to eleven divers. The launches are straight from the beach through the surf. These type of launches are unique to the Kwazulu Natal and Mozambique coast and is a adrenaline rush! This thrilling experience adds to the excitement of the dive.
Average visibility in the area is 15 to 20 meters, with up to 40 meters during winter months. Water temperature ranges from 29ºC in mid summer (Dec/Jan) to approximately 19ºC in mid winter (Jun/Jul) and diving is possible all year round.
During the summer months from December to March large numbers of Ragged tooth sharks congregate at quarter mile reef. The number of boats and divers to this site is regulated to protect the sharks.
SODWANA BAY DIVE SITES:
Sodwana Bay 2 MileThe most popular of the dive sites. 2 Mile is a large reef about 2km long and about 1km wide. Depths vary from 9m to30m. There are many dive sites within the main body of 2 Mile reef. Due to its size there is something for everyone, from massive beds of corals, rocky overhangs & caves, to a large diversity of fishes and reef inhabitants.
Sodwana Bay 5 Mile. A deeper reef, this site is a dive site for advanced divers. This reef well known for its coral formations. It is 1km long and 1km wide. Depth ranges between 15 and 35 meters. Off this reef are rocky out crops with interesting sea life and well worth the dive. There is a abundance of delicate staghorn coral which occur in large tiers. The average depth is approximately 21 m.
Sodwana Bay 7 Mile. A favorite among advanced divers, 7 Mile is rated as one of the best dive sites in the world. It is located about 10km from Jesser point. The top of the reef is approximately 15m deep with a distinct drop-off down to 24m on the sand. The inside edge is relatively sheltered from the open ocean and supports a large diversity of fish and invertebrate. Definitely a must!
Sodwana Bay 9 Mile. This reef is untouched by divers because of the distance from Jesser point. This is a spectacular dive. The depth ranges from 3 to 24m. There is a distinct Green coral tree on this reef that supports plenty of fish life.
SODWANA BAY FISHING:
Although it is considered by many to be mainly a dive destination, Sodwana offers excellent fishing. Either from the shore or from fishing ski boats.
There are a number of fishing charter operators at Sodwana. They operate large skiboats with experienced skippers for the visitor who wish to try his hand at game fishing.
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN SODWANA BAY:
You can build sandcastles or snorkel at Jesser Point at low tide, or do some great snorkeling further north at Mabibi.
Sundowners are popular at Lake Sibaya, a freshwater inland lake about 30 minutes from Sodwana.
There is a curio market off the main Sodwana beach for some local shopping. Sodwana is a well-known nesting place for turtles, which can be experienced on guided tours along the beach between November & January.
For the more energetic there is horse riding or quad driving through the plantations. You can also go flying in a microlight over this pristine area.
This is a malaria area please contact your doctor regarding medication.
Petrol & diesel are available from Mbazwana or at the petrol station in the National Park.
There is a large supermarket in Mbazwana and a small shop in the park.
DIRECTIONS SODWANA BAY:
It is about a 7 hour drive from Johannesburg/Pretoria. You can reach Sodwana in a normal car and therefore you don’t need a 4×4. In a car or when towing take the road via Hluhluwe as it is a tar road. For the more adventurous in a 4×4 you can take the shorter route via Jozini with a bumpy 60km dirt road.
- From Johannesburg/Pretoria, take the Witbank Highway.
Take the Hendrina/Ermelo off-ramp, through Hendrina, Ermelo, Piet Rietef and Pongola OR
Take the Carolina off-ramp, through Carolina, Amsterdam, Piet Retief and Pongola.
For the dirt road: Through Pongola and about 50km turn off to Jozini. Through Jozini turn right at fork and follow the signs to Sodwana Bay.
For the tar road: Follow the road to Hluhluwe, through the town and then follow the signs to Mbazwana and Sodwana.