Sodwana is the ideal diving location, with 3 reefs (2, 5, and 7 mile), Just 5 minutes from the sodwana lodge hotel you are at the beach. From here you will be taken care of, no matter if you have your own gear or need to hire equipment. Lots of marine life from the small to Rays and whitetips.
We went snorkelling one afternnon on half-mile reef, using one of the companies set up on the beach. The variety of tropical sea-life is incredible (we saw loads of fish, sea turtles, a stingray, and a Whale Shark), and the water is quite warm, and generally pretty clear. The reef is about 12 meters down, but it is possible to get down with a snorkel (i got most of the way down :-p)
We payed R100 for an hour in the water (with Blu Juice), but ended up staying out for 1 1/2 hours because of the Whale Shark siting and trying to chase down a Humpback whale. Which unfortunately ended up being too far away.
During the summer months leather back and loggerhead turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs. A nature conservation guide takes one on a walk around that can take several hours.
I came to witness a turtle laying eggs a process that took almost three hours before she disappeared into the sea.
Sodwana Bay boasts kilometres of unspoiled beaches – if you head out a few kilometres you may find that you are the only person around.
Keep in mind that this may change in December and January when South Africans come to Sodwana Bay in their thousands. Also beach driving has been prohibited – hence your only mode of transport is by foot.
The wetlands region of St. Lucia and the adjacent lakes north make out the World Heritage Site in this part of the world. Lake Sibaya is a lovely lake home to many crocodiles and hippos as well as several hundred species of birds. Several view sites along the lake allow you to experience the beauty of Northern Maputaland firsthand
Bikini Reef is a stunning little reef which runs parallel to 2 Mile. It is mainly flat with some caves and little valleys. Manta Rays often visit here, and on my dive I was accompanied by a Manta Ray for over an hour. Many reef fish hide in the cracks of the reef and due to the size of the reef one can almost cover the entire reef with a bottom time of around 1 hour.
This deep dive offers a complete different world. When we descended to Uniform it was like arriving on a different planet. The reef is almost entirely covered with Plate Corals and is home to many fish and exceptional large crayfish.
The reef is about 1.7 km long and up to 900 m wide. It is one of the most popular reefs to dive at, since it is only a few minutes away from the launch area. Many different corals, reef and mid-water fish can be found here, with eels and other creatures hiding in the many caves and holes.
Two Mile Reef is where most new divers in South Africa do their qualifying dive.
The reef has the most diverse coral community at Sodwana, hence it is a dive area reserved for advanced divers who have good buoyancy control. Extensive beds of staghorn, mushroom and plate corals ensure a fascinating community of reef inhabitants can be found here.
The drop-offs and mushroom shaped pinnacles, characteristic of this wonderful reef with its great diversity of marine life make it quiet popular among divers. Turtles and rays are often seen and shoals of brightly coloured goldies and other reef fish visit the coral often.
The top of the reef is at 4m on the southern edge, dropping to 21m on the north-eastern edge. The highlight of this dive is a green tree that towers about 2.5m. Just south of the green tree is a spectacular system of swim throughs, overhangs and caves
What we didn't quite understand was that nearly all activities at Sodwana Bay are coordinated through the Sodwana Nature Conservation Office. So when our hotel called ahead for us to reserve our horseback riding tour and then told us to pay them at the office, we thought we'd pay at the office at the stable, right? Well, no. First, there was no stable, just a sign for horseback riding and a couple of people standing around minding a couple of saddled horses, with a few unsaddled horses meandering about. So we drove past looking for an office. No office, but we found a shady place to park. So we walked back to the likely looking horses and the attendants didn't even ask who we were, they just wanted to get us on the horses. OK, we got on the horses. Our guide gave us a brief refresher on how to control a horse and we were off to the beach. My horse was a new mom and her baby came along for the trot. Unfortunately for me, Mom was in no mood to cooperate with a once-every two-year rider like me and was much more interested in taking care of her baby. Understandable, I thought, but it still made for a rather difficult ride since our guide and my husband's horse were in a mood to canter and gallop. Ah well, I can't really complain. I was horseback riding on the beach, wasn't I? Sodwana is a lovely beach, and is nearly completely undeveloped. You really do get a sense of being out in the wilderness. Back from the beach, and unsaddled, we asked where to pay. Our guide looked confused and pointed to the road and said, "Back there." Well, we saw a BBQ and ice cream stand in the direction she was pointing, so we walked back there and nobody was interested in us. For a while, we wondered if we had found the right horseback riding outfit or had we jumped on someone else's horses? Our guide had disappeared so we went back to the car and drove back toward our lodge. On the way, we passed the Sodwana Nature Conservation Offices and saw the sign: "Book horseback riding tours here." Aha! Light bulbs flashed. . .
We met up with our dive master at Amoray Divers on the beach at Jesser Point. Probably at least a dozen different dive operations all meet up here. Amoray has a wooden gazebo on the beach, but everyone else set up camp under tarps. All I can say is that beach is an example of what you'd call controlled chaos. Each boat reserves a launch time, but I didn't actually spot any one person who seemed to be in charge. Fishing charters and dive boats leave from the beach. There is no dock. Boats are launched into the raging surf directly from trailers hooked up to 4-wheel drive vehicles or tractors. The tractors drive straight into the water before the boats are released. Now we're talking 6 foot waves here, at least. And divers use inflatable Zodiacs! They're huge Zodiacs, mind you, but inflatable nonetheless! Divers are expected to help launch the boat. Luckily for me, ladies are allowed to hop in while it's still relatively shallow. The timing of the launch is very important due to the high waves. Once all are in the boat, you strap your feet in and HANG ON! The captain of our boat knew exactly how to maneuver between and over the waves so that it felt like a dune-buggy ride rather than a roller coaster. Within just a few minutes we were at the reef. Out at the reef, the water was much choppier than I'm used to diving, but not too bad. But back at home, they'd NEVER launch a dive boat under these conditions! Our dive master said that the water was pretty calm for Sodwana. Our first dive was at Bikini Reef, which is a young reef and therefore doesn’t have the growth and color you might see at an older reef. The second dive was at 2-Mile Reef, which was much more spectacular. Lots of neat coral formations, arches, and all kinds of life. But it was a bit surgey. Between dives, we went back to the beach rehydrated (bring your own drinks & snacks!) and played in the tide pools. In all it was a fun day - and we saw our first clown fishes in the wild!
Along the road from Durban to Sodwana Bay, there are a number of of craft markets where you can stop and buy local crafts. There are some great things available at these places.
I bought a couple of small carved animals, a table and a purse made from tiny coloured beads. The guy driving me also bought a few pineapples as they were a lot cheaper here than in the city.