Gordons Bay Dive Sites

Details of some of our favourite dive sites on the Eastern (Gordon’s Bay) side of False Bay-

Noble Reef

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Average Depth: 18 m

Maximum Depth: 26 m

Entry Type: Boat Dive

Site description: This dive site is named after the large amount of noble coral found on this reef.  The reef comprises reef and gullies, with sheer walls reaching to the sand at the edge of the seaward side of the reef.  Closer to the shore at depths of 19m, the reef becomes flatter and the gives way to lower profile reef, large round boulders and gravel.

What to look out for:  Noble coral on all the pinnacles, lots of sea fans, basket stars, white sea catfish, koester, red roman, doublesash butterfly fish, many different types of klipfish and gobies.  Sea spiders have also been spotted here and there are many different types of nudibranchs, including gasflame, silverip, black, orange clubbed, orange and red-spotted dorids as well as candy, orange-eyed and purple ladies can be found in the plant life on the tops of the pinnacles.  Lacy false coral is quite plentiful here, as are basket stars on the sea fans.

 

Drop Zone

Scuba Diving Strand Reefs - leopard catshark at Stinky's

Average Depth: 16 m

Maximum Depth: 26 m

Entry Type: Boat Dive

Site description: This dive site is reached by launching from Gordon’s Bay and heading out past Strand.  It is a huge oval shaped reef that starts at 15m and slopes gently outwards to about 26m.  Rather than having huge pinnacles, the reef has ridges, gullies and round craters that almost look as if bombs have been dropped there.  It is thought that the reef is comprised of Malmesbury stone which is even older than Table Mountain :D.

What to look out for:  Lots of nudibranchs and dorids – scribbled, variable, purple ladies, gasflame, chocolate chip, spiky, blue dorids, inkspot – you name it, you are likely to find it here!  Lots and lots of sea fans (forests of them!), schools of smaller fish such as hottentot, zebra and kolstert, shyshark, leopard catshark, pleated toad fish, bull rays, beautifully coloured klipfish, octopus, cuttlefish, hotlips spider crabs.  A truly fantastic site with so much to see and really worth a visit!

 

Rocky Bay

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Average Depth: 12 m

Maximum Depth: 18 m

Entry Type: Boat Dive

Site description: Named after the resort on the cliffs above this dive site, this dive site comprises sandstone ridges and gullies running parallel to the shore.  Further away from the shore, the bottom becomes flatter with large round boulders.

What to look out for:  Lots of klipfish, shyshark, rock suckers, red roman, galjoen, kolstert, sea fans, soft corals, sponges, lots and lots of different types of nudibranchs, seals.  A colourful dive site.

The Flats

Minimum Depth: 14 m

Average Depth: 17m

Maximum Depth: 18m

Entry Type: Boat dive, 5km from Harbour Island

Site Description: A new dive site, discovered by Indigo Scuba in December 2012.  Named after its location …   The dive site is made up of a number of ridges and pinnacles interspersed with rocky / gravelly patches.  Marine life is colourful and very different to the dive sites closer to the Gordon’s Bay coastline with many unusual varieties of nudibranchs and colour variations of some that you see elsewhere.    Due to its depth and distance from the Gordon’s Bay cliffs, this is a good dive site to visit when swells make diving the shallower Gordon’s Bay rather surgy.  A fantastic dive site for macro photography and nudibranch enthusiasts.

What to look out for:  Look closely at the sinuous sea fans as most are home to at least one hotlips spider crab.  Huge white sea catfish and red roman.  Very unusual nudibranchs and the rarer varieties are found here – blue speckled nudibranchs, variable nudibranchs with unusual patterns, tan dorids, scribbled nudibranchs, basket stars (some really huge ones!), forests of sea fans, orange wall sponges, schooling bait fish, very colourful sponges and soft corals.

 

NEW (and Un-named) Dive Site

Minimum Depth: 14 m

Average Depth: 15m

Maximum Depth: 18m

Entry Type: Boat dive, 5 km from Harbour Island.

Site Description: We keep wanting to call it “mini Steenbras Deep” as the marine life here is just as prolific as the amazing Steenbras Deep. Incredibly colourful and beautiful.  Pinnacles and ridges covered with sponges, wall sponges, soft corals, sea fans, lacy false corals – very rich in marine and plant life.

What to look out for:  An amazing amount of macro life, including hotlips spider crabs, huge gasflame nudibranchs, saddled nudibranchs and inkspot nudibranchs.  The most amazingly coloured sponges (green, purple, pink, orange….).  Discovered in January 2013, this reef has yet to be explored extensively.

 

Steenbras Deep

Marine Life at Steenbras Deep

Minimum Depth: 17 m

Average Depth: 27m

Maximum Depth: 30m

Entry Type: Boat dive, 11km from Harbour Island

Site Description: This is a fantastic year-round dive site, especially when the sea is flat.

What to look out for: This is an extraordinary dive site with something new and exciting to see around every corner.  Huge sea fans, soft corals, noble coral, enormous orange wall sponges, gas flame, black, frilled nudibranchs and rare nudibranchs such as purple lady and white edged nudibranchs not often seen; rare blue sock anemone, fish such as Red Roman, Hottentot, Twotone Fingerfin, White Sea Catfish, Horsefish, Pyjama Shark, Puffadder Shyshark, Leopard Catshark.  So much to see, this is a must-do dive for everyone!  Because of this depth, we often get fantastic visibility at this dive site.

Steenbras River Mouth

School of Strepies

Location: Gordon’s Bay

Average Depth: 10 m

Minimum Depth: 7 m

Maximum Depth: 16 m

Entry Type: Boat dive

Site description: A beautiful dive site consisting of rows of marine-encrusted reefs running parallel to the shoreline.  Sandy gullies in between the reef.  So much to see and plenty to keep you  busy for the entire dive time (approx. 50 minutes).

What to look out for: Colourful soft corals, flagellar, palmate and sinuous sea fans.  Orange and grey wall sponges.  Tubular Hydroids, colourful sea urchins and sea anemones.  Nudibranchs galore – including huge gasflame nudis, coral nudibranchs, medallian silvertip nudibranchs, black nudibranchs.  Lots of puffadder shyshark, many playful seals, huge red roman, hottentot, twotone fingerfin, red fingers, cuttlefish – a stunning dive site and one of our favourites.

Pinnacle

Black Nudibranch

Location: Gordon’s Bay

Average Depth: 10 m

Minimum Depth: 7 m

Maximum Depth: 16 m

Entry Type: Boat dive

Site description: Due to its relative shallow-ness, this dive site is extremely colourful.  Starting off at a pinnacle which is often exposed at low tide, we make our way along the coastline.  Topography is rock outrcoppings and boulders, gently sloping down to a sandy sea bed at about 16 metres.

What to look out for: Nudibranchs!  This is a great dive site to spot a huge variety of nudibranchs – from orange scribbled nudibranchs, gasflame, silvertip, cape dorid, inkspot, chocolate chip, coral, candy nudibranchs. Beautiful sea fans, orange wall sponges, anemones in colour combinations that you can’t imagine.  Cuttlefish, seals, huge octopus and puffadder shyshark.

Cow and Calf

Fiery Nudibranch

Location: Gordon’s Bay

Average Depth: 8 m

Maximum Depth: 15 m

Entry Type: Boat dive

Site description: This is a nice, relaxing dive and one of the first dive sites we take our students to.  Sometimes referred to as a “training site”, Cow and Calf is grossly underrated. It gets its name from the two largest parts of this reef which, when viewed from the road, look like a mother (cow) whale and her calf.  The site consists of a small-ish reef surrounded by boulders.

What to look out for: Orange sea fans, seals, cuttlefish, octopus, kolstert fish, red roman and hottentot.  Loads of different types of nudibranchs, including the orange and white and blue and yellow gasflame nudibranch, chocolate chip nudibranchs, cape dorid, orange nudibranch, inkspot nudibranch.  A beautiful and relaxing dive site.

Balcony

Corals at Balcony

Location: Rooi Els

Average Depth: 6 m

Maximum Depth: 15 m

Entry Type: Shore entry

Site description: This is a great dive to do in summer after the South Easterly winds have been blowing for a few days. It is quite a sheltered spot, so excellent for less-experienced divers but, at the same time very enjoyable for experienced divers as further out there are stunning reefs teeming with life. Watch out for the swells when putting on your mask, fins and gloves and remember – never turn your back to the sea.

What to look out for: Orange wall sponges and red encrusting sponges. Many beautiful strawberry anemones, elegant feather stars and lacy false coral. Further out are orange and pink noble corals, gorgonian twig corals, palmate sea fans and sinuous sea fans. Many gas flame nudibranchs and frilled nudibranchs are spotted on all dives. We often encounter seals on this dive (remember to keep your hands close to your body!), as well as pyjama sharks, gully sharks and even the odd butterfly ray.

Coral Gardens

Gasflame Nudibranch at Coral Gardens

Average Depth: 12 m

Maximum Depth: 18 m

Entry Type: Shore entry

Site description: This is a great dive when the swells are not too big. After a quick swim of about 10 metres, and we descend onto a seabed strewn with round boulders and begin one of the most beautiful dives in False Bay.

What to look out for: Huge boulders and rock walls covered with kelp, enormous orange wall sponges, black stink sponges and crumb of bread sponges. At about 18 metres, there are many huge walls covered with orange and pink noble corals, sinuous sea fans, palmate sea fans and multicoloured sea fans. Here we find many different types of nudibranchs – the blue and orange gas flame nudibranchs, black nudibranchs and frilled nudibranchs to name but a few. The reefs are teeming with elegant feather stars and toothed feather hydroids. Fish life includes galjoen, red roman, twotone fingerfins and many different types of klipvis. We have also spotted red steenbras here as well as smooth houndsharks and puffadder shy sharks.

Crosses

Seal at Crosses

Average Depth: 12 m

Maximum Depth: 18 m

Entry Type: Shore entry

Site description: You can either do a giant stride off the point at the mouth of the gully or climb down a few rocks into the gully.

What to look out for: Quite a rocky sea bed, with sand a little further out. There is a beautiful wall which drops down to 18 metres, covered with red bait, nudibranchs, feather stars, sea fans, and basket stars. You will also see many shy sharks and crayfish hiding in numerous cracks and crannies. We are also often joined by seals at this dive site.

Percy’s

Rock Sucker at Percy's

Average Depth: 12m

Maximum Depth: 21 m

Entry Type: Shore entry

Site Description: Enter the water by stepping off the point of the gully into a small sheltered cove and then swim to your right.

What to look out for: Keeping the cliff on your right hand side, you will see many steep walls covered with red bait, sea fans, brittle stars hiding in the sand, sponge crabs clinging to the sea fans, sea anemones and soft corals. On the rocks, there are orange wall sponges, red encrusting sponges and golf ball sponges. Search amongst the kelp and red bait and you could spot compact sea spiders and kelp crabs. As there are many crayfish hiding under the shelves, this is a popular crayfishing site so look out for old discarded crayfish nets which have started to become artificial reefs in their own right!

 

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