The town of Pretoria is located in the landlocked province of Gauteng, not the most obvious place to learn to dive, you may think. The area actually boasts a number of lakes and plenty of dive centres which makes the area a popular location for dive courses.
Diving in Pretoria
Though Pretoria is landlocked, there are a number of dive centres in the town and surrounding areas. The calm waters of the lakes make it popular with dive courses - notably beginners, but it is popular with technical diving training too. Some of the dive courses are completed in these lakes and some involve trips to Sodwana Bay on the coast.
As the diving is limited to the large bodies of water in the area, there are no liveaboards or dive resorts located here. The majority of people who learn to dive here are locals.
Best time to dive
Diving in Pretoria is possible year round. Its location in the very centre of South Africa means that is protected from the worst of the southerly winds which sometimes batter the coastline. It is subject to seasons, but the average annual temperatures are warm and pleasant. During the winter months (July/August), the air temperatures tend to be around 19.5oC, plenty warm enough to get in the water! In the summer months (December/January) they reach around 28oC. For diving along the coastline, the warm summers are the best time.
Types of diving
There are two diveable lakes near Pretoria, Miracle Waters and Bass Lake, are old mines which have since been filled with water and turned into a diving destination. It is also possible to wreck dive at certain points in these quarries due to the sunken artefacts in the lake, some of which can be penetrated.
On the coastline, there is a variety of diving, from tropical reef diving, wreck diving, drift diving and deep water diving.
What to see
The lakes native to Pretoria are not dense in tropical fish. The old quarries contain lots of bass and kerber. There is not a huge amount of other marine life found in the lakes.
Sodwana Bay is home to over 90 different species of corals and sponges, which host over 1200 species of fish. Due to the tropical currents, this is the warmest and most colourful diving in South Africa. You can also see lots of potato bass and crayfish among the reefs. Large pelagic creatures like humpback whales, whale sharks, leopard and guitar sharks, ragged tooth sharks and black marlin migrate through these waters annually.
Best places to dive
Miracle Waters is an old mine near Johannesburg. It features an aeroplane, yachts, swimming pool, bus and puma helicopter to observe on the sea bed. You can even penetrate the bus and plane.
Bass Lake in Henley on Klip is popular with beginner dive courses. It also has many points of interest including a bus, hang glider, helicopter and mine truck. The visibility is better in the morning, before divers disturb the silt
The Wondergat Dolomitic Sinkhole is a deep site which is popular for deep technical courses.
Sodwana Bay found on the coast has some of the best diving in South Africa. Some of the reefs can be easy shore dives whereas others contain steep drop offs and drifts.