One of the best scuba diving training sites in Cape Town has got to be Long Beach in Simon's Town. Known for its moderate conditions, easy access and excellent facilities, Long Beach generally offers outstanding scuba diving conditions.
Long beach dive info
The dive site is situated behind the Simon's Town Railway Station (34°11'14.6"S 18°25'32.8"E https://goo.gl/maps/N8yBc ) and is relatively close to the Simons Town Naval Base. It does happen from time to time when foreign warships enter the Naval Base that the site is closed for security reasons, but for the most part the site is open all year round. Long Beach is also close to shops, offers ample parking , public toilets and has arguably the easiest shore dive entry and exit in Cape Town. The toilets are generally kept clean and although not luxurious, offers everything a diver may need. Showers are provided on the outside of the building which is handy for rinsing off excess sand from your gear that you will accumulate exiting from the dive site since it is a beach/shore entry. The area is in a marine protected area so you will need a MPA permit.
Due to the Harbour as well as the protection that the Peninsula offers, Long Beach is quite well sheltered from westerly winds and swells as well as south easterly winds and waves. The best time of the year to dive there is in winter when the South Easterly Winds tend not to blow. Long beach is generally the dive site to go to should conditions be poor at the other sites on False Bay. This site is almost always divable which makes it ideal for testing new gear as well as training scuba divers. Large waves, strong winds and surge are therefore almost never an issue.
Simons Town is situated in False Bay and although the Ocean is technically the Atlantic Ocean, there is a marked difference in temperature when compared to the Atlantic Seaboard which is considerably colder. The water temperature ranges from the mid teens to mid twenty degrees Celsius and for the most part a 5mm wet-suit will suffice. Gloves are optional as well as booties. We generally prefer wearing booties when diving in Cape Town because most of the other shore dive sites have rocks that will hurt your feet. In our experience most divers in Cape Town prefer diving with a Hoodie since the water is generally much colder than when compared to tropical dive sites. Besides, you never know when you will swim past some box jelly fish and who really wants to be stung by those guys in the face, right?
Long Beach's topography is mostly made up of a flat sandy bottom with the occasional pockets of vegetation growing on loose rocks, small wrecks as well as a pipeline that runs perpendicular to the shoreline. The pipeline has a couple of dark places in it which the octopuses and crabs love. There are no major wrecks in the area with the exception of a couple of small fishing boats a barge and some small yacht wrecks. The sea has reclaimed the bodies of most these boats, leaving only the more durable engines, gearboxes and shaft parts laying about.
Visibility is generally between 5-8 meters. On rare occasions you might see as far as 15meters. This is mostly due to the sandy sea bottom which gradually slopes down from the shore to a max depth of about 18 meters at the Simons Town Harbour Mouth.
It is advisable to make use of a Surface marker buoy since the area is home to the False Bay Yacht Club. Not all the boats will therefore make a noise when sailing above you. Obviously the closer to shore you dive, the less of a risk this holds.
Long beach offers a wide variety of marine life which include Pineapple fish, crown crab, Bluefin Gurnard, Shaggy Sea Hare, Biscuit Skate, Sea Squirts, Octopus, Stingrays box Jellyfish and a whole assortment of fish. Sharks are rarely found at Long Beach.