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Sodwana Bay National Park, South Africa
Fast Facts
+27 (0)35 571 0051
Scuba Diving
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Points of Interest Nearby

Loggerhead Turtle, Sodwana Bay


Photo by Derek Keats

Sodwana Bay may be small and difficult to reach but it’s one of the best places in South Africa to don a mask and fins and drop a line in the literal sense. Part of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, this 1,155 hectare strip of forest, dunes and sandy beaches sits adjacent to rock pools, coral reefs and deep waters. It’s a nesting site for leatherback and loggerhead turtles. It’s home to soft and hard corals and more than 900 species of fish. Marlin and sailfish are prolific. Its fourteen rocky reefs have caves, overhangs, and pinnacles. Its swamp and sand forests are rich in bird and animal life. In short, Sodwana Bay National Park is an ideal destination for beach-goers that want to do more than soak up the sun.
Getting There
Sodwana Bay National Park is situated in northern KwaZulu Natal. It is located 80 km (50 miles) from Hluhluwe, 370 km (230 miles) from Durban and more than 650 km (400 miles) from Johannesburg. The nearest airport is in Richards Bay, a 2.5-hour drive. There is no public transport to Sodwana Bay. Some, but not all, park lodges offer an airport transport service for an additional fee. Family Travel Tips: A 4x4 is required to reach much of surrounding area.
When to Travel
Sodwana Bay has a subtropical climate. Summers are hot and humid. Winters are mild. The average daytime high is 29°C (83°F) in January and February and 23°C (72°F) in June and July. The area receives in excess of 720mm of rainfall each year, most of which falls between October and March. Scuba diving is best from April to September. Sea turtles nest and hatch on the beach from November to March. Whale watching is best from June to November. Whale sharks are sighted from November to April. The high season - December, January, April and July - coincides with South African school holidays.
Health & Safety
Malaria, water safety, and exposure to the sun are the principal health and safety concerns in coastal KwaZulu Natal. While prophylactic treatment is recommended for visitors to risk areas, no drug is 100% effective in preventing malaria thus it's important to avoid mosquito bites. Here are three tips: 1) use insect repellent with DEET. 2) Wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts after dark. 3) Sleep under a treated mosquito net or in a screened or air conditioned room. Heading to the beach? Talk to kids about water safety. Test your equipment. Follow the rules set out by your dive or snorkel guide. Lastly, safeguard against the southern sun. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas.
Hours & Seasons
Park gates are open 24 hours a day. The camp office is 8:00 - 16:30 Monday to Thursday and 7:00 -16:30 Friday to Sunday.
Admission & Fees
An entry fee is charged to all visitors. A reduced rate is available for children under the age of 12. A separate fee is charged for accommodation. A permit is required for scuba diving and day beach driving.
Things to Keep in Mind
Sodwana Bay’s reef complex is the top dive site in South Africa. Sightings include reef fish, pelagics, invertebrates and sharks. The reef boasts a great diversity of coral. Snorkeling in tidal pools is easy; snorkeling off a dive boat can be quite difficult. The self-guided birding trail is an easy 5 km (3 miles) walk. There is a colorful market selling local handicrafts. There are no disabled facilities at the park.
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Travel Trivia
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