We have found that most of our customers prefer to make the most of the day by doing at least two dives. We would for example combine a seal dive with a wreck or a reef dive in the vicinity.
In the year 1488, the first European ship sailed around the Cape Peninsula, under the command of Bartolomeu Dias.After being blown of course by a storm, he named the Cape the "Cape of Storms" - and that name has reverberated through the ages, as around 800 ships have sunk around Cape Town!
For almost 400 years, up to the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt, the route around the Cape has been the most important and viable one between the east and the west. This has left Cape Town with a rich collection of different shipwrecks. These wrecks include wrecks from 37 different nations, including wrecks from the Portuguese, the Dutch, English, and French East India Companies, the British Royal Navy, Oil tankers, 19th century passenger liners, WW1 and WW2, and the list goes on!
With so many excellent wrecks to explore in Cape Town, once the bug bites you, all you are going to want to do is dive, dive, dive!
Below are just some of the wrecks that we scuba dive on in Cape Town.
With the full name of SAS Pietermaritzburg it’s no wonder divers call it the PMB for short. This dive site is located 1km off shore form Millers Point in Cape Town and is a very popular. The wreck is around 70m in length and was sunk in 1994.
This ship had been originally been a ocean minesweeper forming part of Britain’s Royal Naval fleet during the Second World War. Originally named the HMS Pelorus, this ship was one of the thousands of vessels that participated in the invasion of Normandy on the 6th June 1944, more commonly known as D-Day. The HMS Pelorus led the invasion, sweeping the area for mines before the invasion fleet attacked.
The ship was later sold to the South African Navy in 1947 where it was renamed the HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. Here it was used for both training and sweeping for mines. After it was decommissioned the ship was used as a form of accommodation for the squadron of Mine Countermeasures during the years 1968 – 1991. On the 12th November 1994 it was purposefully sunk to form an artificial reef in the area near Cape Town.
Off the rocky shore line of Karbonkelberg lies the oldest and one of the most popular wreck diving sites in Cape Town. Located about 7.5 km from Hout Bay Harbour the wreck is only accessible with boat diving. Stranded on a rocky reef with an overall length of 122 m and in amazing condition for its age, the SS Maori is an new experience every time! Points of interest on the wreck include the steam engines, the railway lines for cargo and lots more!
Originally a British cargo steam ship created in the 1880’s the SS Maori ran aground on the 5th August 1909 on a run from London to New Zealand. Upon reaching the Cape the vessel encountered some bad weather and ran aground and capsized next to Sandy Bay. The ship was carrying loads of goods from British manufacturers ranging from railway lines to explosives, piping to crockery. 32 out of the 53 crew members on the vessel died. A lot of the wreck has been salvaged for fittings and most of the crockery has been taken, however it is now protected under law from removing artefacts. The bell of the ship can be found in the Hout Bay Museum in Cape Town.
Antipolis is a fairly new wreck located opposite the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Oudekraal. Mainly salvaged the remains lie on a rocky reef 20 m from the coast line. Wreck dive points of interest include, the many crayfish that inhabit this site and the pump / boiler room that remains fairly intact and is large enough to swim through.
The tanker Antipolis was being towed by a tug with another tanker, the Romelia, from Greece to the Far East, via Cape Town, to be sold to scrap metal merchants. However, a North Westerly gale caused the line connecting the tankers to the tug to get caught on the sea bed and consequently snap, causing the Antipolis to run aground on the 28th July 1977. Because of its proximity to shore the wreck was converted into night club for the young, and people used to party on it. It even had its own bar! However when the wreck became too unstable it was closed down and later salvaged.
The SS Clan Stewart is a wreck 100 m from the Simons Town shores at Makerel Bay in Cape Town. With various species of aquatic wild life and an interesting wreck with the engine, boilers and shaft available for exploring the site makes for quite an exciting wreck dive! Just look out for some sharp iron edges. Some of the ships features can be seen from the shore at low tide.
The British steamer vessel transporting a cargo load of coal ran aground on 21st November 1914. The SS Clan Stewart weighing around 3500 tons was blown to shore by a strong Cape South Easter, which even caused the vessel to drag its anchor all the way! Four months were spent trying to get the vessel to float again but to no avail, it joined so many other wrecks in Cape Town.
In Smitswinkel Bay there are five wrecks which you can visit on one dive! These Wrecks include the SAS Transvaal, the MV Orotava, the MV Princess Elizabeth, the SAS Good Hope and the MV Rockeater. The dive ranges over 400 m covering all 5 wrecks, starting at the SAS Transvaal to the MV Rockeater.
The SAS Transvaal was a Loch class freighter that was sent to the South African Navy in Cape Town for construction in the 1940’s. In 1978 the ship, now having been sold for scrap metal was scuttled in order to form an artificial reef in Smitswinkel Bay.
The MV Orotava was a British vessel created in 1958. It was a steel trawler and was kindly donated to the False Bay Conservation Society. Donated along with it was the trawler the MV Princess Elizabeth after being badly damaged in a fire. The two trawlers were scuttled in 1983.
The SAS Good Hope was also a Loch class freighter sent to the South African Navy for construction in the 1940’s along with the SAS Transvaal. It worked as a convoy escort in the end of the Second World War and after that was used as a flagship for the South African Navy until 1978 when it was sold for scrap metal and scuttled in 1978.
The MV Rockeater was an American coastal freighter used by the United States Navy in 1945. In 1964 it was bought by Ocean Science and Engineering South Africa, and was used to conduct surveys for map profiling. The ship also had consisted of a drilling crane which was used for taking core samples. This can be found next to the wreck as it was cut off beforehand. The Ship was scuttled in December 1972.