I am a certified scuba diver, but I hadn’t been diving in years, so I decided it was time to get back in the water. Last week, Dive Inn owner, instructor and guide, Carel Van Der Colff collected me and I was transported into the mindset of being a tourist in my own town.
As we drove to Simon’s Town, Carel regaled me with stories of Cape Town, both terra firma- and aqua-related. Even though I’ve lived here for over ten years, there are plenty of things I don’t know. Which South Peninsula suburbs don’t have street lights? Do you think the large white letters ‘G’ and ‘B’ with an anchor emblazoned on the mountains in Gordon’s Bay stands for ‘Gordon’s Bay’? Think again!
On our way to the dive site, Carel told me about some of his over 1,800 dives logged around Cape Town. With so many dives under his belt, there have been some extraordinary occurrences, including frolicking with whales and Cape fur seals. Fascinating nudibranchs (a type of sea slug) are plentiful, as well as sea stars, crustaceans, kelp forests and fish.
While the waters of the South Peninsula are renowned for being riddled with sharks, Carel has never encountered a great white shark while diving. However, shark enthusiasts might be lucky to rendezvous casually with smiley spotted seven-gill cow sharks.
We did a shore dive off Long Beach in Simon’s Town. I got kitted up in a Michelin Man-esque wetsuit and waded into the water. As soon as I hit waist-deep level, I felt instant relief as the water took the weight of my equipment. Even though the water was a comfortable 16 degrees, I was very grateful for the extra padding of my suit.
We had about five metres visibility, which was more than enough to take some great, clear photos. Because I hadn’t dived in years, our dive incorporated a refresher course. This entailed Carel patiently going over some essential scuba diving skills with me while we checked out the scenery. After a while, I relaxed, established the perfect level of buoyancy and just enjoyed inspecting the critters while cruising along. We saw a pyjama catshark hiding in an old forgotten piece of steel, sea stars viciously protecting their finds, and many other curious creatures.
Dive Inn offers shore dives, boat dives, wreck dives, night dives, nudibranch scouting tours, seal dives and shark dives. In the colder months (May to August), False Bay presents the best dive spots with water temperatures of 10–20 degrees Celcius. In the warmer months (September to April), the Atlantic side can be explored with temperatures of 7–14 degrees Celcius, meaning a 5–7 mm wetsuit or drysuit is essential. Visibility varies from 5–15 metres; the colder the water, the better the visibility.
Dive Inn offers scuba diving courses through PADI and RAID, and first aid training through Divers Alert Network (DAN), which is approved by the Department of Labour. Carel is a certified Western Cape Tour Guide, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and holds an EFR first aid training (PADI) certification.
With only two to four people per tour group, Dive Inn can offer personal service while guiding you on wine tours, whale tours, Cape Peninsula tours, scuba diving and much more. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates and to see stunning photography.