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Sandy Cove is one of those sites that probably almost halve of divers who did their Open Water Course in Cape Town dived in during their course. It is probably also one of the most underrated sites in Cape Town.
Sandy Cove is one of 4 popular sites that lie close to each other, right across the 12 Apostles Hotel. This area is known as “Oudekraal”, and not far from here is a picnic site with the same name. One of the nice things about Sandy Cove is that one can almost always dive here during summer, even if the South Easter is howling. It is quite protected, and it’s only when the swell gets big enough to curl around into the cove that it becomes too rough to dive.
To get to Sandy Cove, divers have to walk down a steep path (probably about 100 meters long), over rocks and down a slope, so be sure to take it easy on the way down. Once divers are down though, you are rewarded with an easy entry and exit. The entry point is a tiny little beach, of about 3 meters wide. In high tide, the water comes right up to the rocks, but when you walk into the water you should be on the sand by the time you are ankle deep.
Sandy Cove is perfect for the nice, easy, relaxed type of dive. It is great for beginner divers (max. depth is about 8 meters), and also perfect for testing out new scuba dive equipment. Even so, there is also ample for the more experienced diver to see here.
Sandy Cove boasts with a beautiful kelp forest that circles it. While exploring this forest, be on the lookout for Crayfish, Klipfish, Hottentots’ fish, Shy Sharks, Pajama Sharks, Electric Rays, and Nudibranchs against the rocks! There are one or two swim-throughs, but be careful when considering whether to swim through them or not – they can be deceptively small. Also, on some of them you might swim through to find yourself in a very small chamber, where you will be forced to turn around (which is hard if you have 2 or 3 divers diving behind you), or to go up to the surface and swim back to where you can from.
If you swim out further out, into “Outer Sandy’s”, you start leaving the relative calm of inner Sandy Cover, but here are also very nice things to see. You can find the wreckage of the “Het huis te Kraaiestein” – one of the oldest wrecks on the South African coast. There are some canons lying around, as well as a small piece of the wooden hull. Salvage equipment can also be seen lying around, left there from a previous salvage attempt.
An interesting legend exists around this ship. It sank in the year 1698, when Simon van der Stel was the Dutch governor of the Cape. 19 Chests of silver were said to be on board, of which only 16 has been accounted for… meaning there is a chance that this silver is still lying out there.
Sandy Cove is ideally dived in summer, after the South Easter wind has cleaned the water. In good conditions visibility can go up to 15 meters (although 6-8 meters is more likely), while temperatures are normally between 8 and 14 degrees Celsius.
Below is a rough sketch of Sandy Cove.