August 2015 – Regularly voted among the world’s best dive sites, Rocktail is a paradise for underwater enthusiasts, providing the ideal base to explore the Indian Ocean’s warm tropical waters and enjoy the huge diversity of sea life found in and around its pristine coral reefs.
Located in the Maputaland Coastal Forest and Marine Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Rocktail offers one of the world’s most exclusive diving experiences. With only 2 boats launching at Island Rock, divers have the luxury of knowing that they have exclusive access to a number of dive sites in the area. Wilderness Safaris first received permission to begin scuba diving in the northern area of the Maputaland Marine Reserve in early 2000, and together with Mokarran Dive Charters, Rocktail’s dive centre partner, diving explorations began in these unchartered waters.
“As the first dive operation in the area, we had the honour of discovering these spectacular reefs and are delighted that 15 years later things are still much the same; the reefs are healthy and protected and the beaches are quiet and undeveloped. We are able to continue offering our guests private diving on pristine reefs and enjoy sharing this incredible diving destination with people from all over the world – many of whom return year after year to dive in this very special place. There are not many areas left in the world where you can be the only divers exploring the reefs and the only people on a wonderful expanse of undeveloped beach”, says Michelle Smith of Mokarran Dive Charters.
Rocktail’s waters support a huge diversity of fish life, with no less than 1 200 different fish species in a relatively small area, as well as an abundance of corals. Regular sightings include various turtle, ray and moray eel species, not to mention sharks, potato bass, and all the other tropical reef fish families. Seasonal visitors include migrating humpback whales and the occasional southern right whale during winter and pregnant spotted ragged tooth sharks during summer. There is a good chance of seeing bottlenose, spinner and occasionally the highly endangered humpback dolphins and even whale sharks and manta rays throughout the year. The area is also of great importance to nesting loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
Relaxed diving at its best, experienced dive staff ensure that everything is taken care of for guests – all they need to do is arrive at the Dive Centre on time. They are then driven to the beach for their first dive, after which they will return to the beach to enjoy a picnic breakfast whilst waiting for enough time to safely head out for the second dive. Guests can also learn how to dive at Rocktail, with a range of PADI dive courses from beginners to more advanced levels. There are also courses for children, including the PADI Bubblemaker experience where children over the age of eight can learn how to dive with an instructor in the safety of Rocktail’s swimming pool.
Guests who would prefer snorkelling, or simply enjoying the coastal scenery from the boat, are also well catered for. The Ocean Experience is essentially a “game drive” out to sea, where guests enjoy a boat ride along the coastline with the possibility of encountering humpback whales (in season), bottlenose dolphins, turtles, manta rays and whale sharks and, if the sea conditions allow, guests have the option of hopping overboard at a snorkelling site, to enjoy the fish life below the surface.
After a day out at sea, guests can relax back at camp, enjoying the coastal forest views from the 17 en-suite rooms (seven of which are family suites), or unwind in the central lounge and dining area, with its large wrap-around veranda, pool and sun loungers.
For the latest dive report at Rocktail, click here.