Aliwal Shoal, or "The Shoal" as we affectionately term the reef system, is a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Shoal gets it’s name from the ship captained by Captain Aliwal. Captain Aliwals’ vessel was the first ship to strike the Shoal thus the reefs’ name.
Aliwal Shoal is a stretch of reef that is roughly 3km in length and approximately 1km wide at its widest point. The reef has an abundance of fish life and corals, both soft and hard. The real beauty is only really appreciated once it has been dived. The reef has many unique dive sites that can be entirely different to any other site on the same reef whether it be the topography or marine life and flora/fauna. It is rated as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, so it's easy to see why this reef is so popular.
Besides the beautiful reef and the formidable 'Produce' ship wreck, Aliwal Shoal is the gathering ground for ragged-tooth sharks, where a dive amongst these spectacular creatures is truly an unforgettable experience. Aliwal Shoal has been largely renowned as an excellent shark diving. The reef forms part of the offshore reef system that runs along most of the Natal coast, this system was formed by submerged dunes between eighteen and ten thousand years ago.
The reef offers varied, spectacular and thrilling diving where no two dives are the same. There is an abundance of hard and soft coral, stunning coral fish and sponges to be seen, but the greatest attraction for divers must surely be the concentration of ragged-tooth sharks.
The sharks offer fantastic photo opportunities, as one may approach very close, but divers should always keep in mind that sharks are some of the most unpredictable creatures on earth and care must be taken not to aggravate or provoke them.
Shoals of hammerhead sharks have been sighted on Aliwal in the past, while other species such as the fairly dangerous Zambezi shark have also been spotted occasionally. Whale sharks are quite common, and an absolute pleasure to see. Apart from these awe inspiring creatures, there are also big sea turtles, huge potato bass, game fish such as Kingfish, Cuda and Tunny to be seen on the reef.
The Aliwal Shoal depth ranges from 9m to a maximum depth of 27m, with a visibility of anything between 2m to 30m+.