FAQ: Should I do a resort course, or learn to dive before I go on holiday?

Perhaps you’re going to Mozambique, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Thailand, the Red Sea (Egypt, Israel or Jordan for example), or some other equally exciting (and warm) destination.

Diving in Aqaba, Jordan
Diving in Aqaba, Jordan, where I worked for a few months in 2008.

I would suggest you qualify as a diver here at home, for several reasons:

  1. Diving courses contain a theory component, involving watching a dvd, self-study, classroom time with an instructor, and some quizzes and exams. Do you really want to be wasting your well-earned holiday hitting the books?
  2. Resort courses are usually way more expensive than a locally-run course, because you’re a captive market and can’t really shop around when you’re on holiday.
  3. You’ve paid a lot of money to book your holiday and you want to have the best possible experience. To do that, I suggest that you make sure you’re totally relaxed and at ease in the water. Some people take a few tries to get comfortable with the idea of breathing underwater, and I promise you’ll enjoy your holiday far more if you’ve already mastered diving, and you can concentrate on enjoying the sights while you’re away rather than taking the first nervous steps towards mastering a new skill.
  4. When you start diving, it takes a few dives before you are fully relaxed and able to turn your attention away from fidgeting with your kit to the underwater world around you. Rather let me help you fine tune your buoyancy and kit configuration while you’re here, so that when you go on holiday you can confidently tell the dive centre, “I need a large BC, 8kg weight belt and size 9 booties please!” No surprises.
  5. Conditions in the Cape are very different to what you’ll experience diving in warm tropical oceans. You might think this a reason not to learn to dive here, but experienced Cape Town divers will tell you that if you can dive here, you can dive anywhere. It only gets easier!

(This information also appears on my website, here.)

False Bay and Cape Peninsula dive sites

Peter Southwood has a list of the dive sites in the Cape Peninsula and False Bay on his wikivoyage site for diving in the region. Here’s our list (which is just his, alphabetised, plus some other sites we’ve explored of our own accord) with links to the dive sites we’ve done specific posts on.

This post will be regularly updated as we dive new sites.

13th Apostle
A-Frame (Oatlands Point)
Albatross Rock
Alpha Reef (Outer Spaniard)
Ammunition Barges
Andre se gat
Ankers
Antipolis
Bakoven Rock
Balcony
Bantry Bay
Batsata Rock
Bikini Beach
Blouklip (Bloukrans)
Blousteen Ridge
Blue Rock Quarry
Boat Rock (Bakoven Rock)
Bordjiesrif
Brunswick
Buffels Bay
Caravan Reef
Castle Rocks and Parson’s Nose
Castor Rock
Cement Barge
Clifton Rocks
Container Bay (Mike’s Bay)
Coral Gardens (Oudekraal)
Coral Gardens (Rooiels)
Cow and Calf
Dale Brook
D-Frame (Oatlands Reef, Wave Rock)
Di’s Cracks
Die Josie
Die Perd
Dreadlocks Reef
Fan Reef
Finlay’s Point (Jenga Reef)
Finlay’s Deep
Fish Hoek Reef
Fisherman’s Beach
Froggy Pond
Geldkis
Geldkis Blinder
Hakka Reef (Middelmas)
Hangklip Ridge
Het Huis te Kraaiestein
Hout Bay Harbour
HNMS Bato
Insanity Reef
Justin’s Caves
Kalk Bay Harbour Wall
Kanobi’s Wall
Klein Pannekoek
Klein Tafelberg Reef (Salad bowl, Yacht wreck))
Kruis (Crosses)
Ledges
Logies Bay
Long Beach
Lorry Bay
Maidstone Rock
MFV Orotava
MFV Princess Elizabeth
Mike’s Point
Miller’s Point
Muizenberg Trawlers
Murray’s Bay Harbour (Robben Island)
Mushroom Pinnacle
MV Aster
MV BOS 400
MV Daeyang Family
MV Gemsbok
MV Katsu Maru
MV Rockeater
MV Romelia
MV Treasure
Noah’s Ark and the Ark Rock Wrecks

North Battery Pipeline
North Lion’s Paw
Outer Castle (Blindevals)
Outer Photographer’s Reef
P87
Partridge Point and Seal Rock
Penguin Point (Boulders)
Percy’s Hole
Phil’s Bay
Phoenix Shoal
Photographer’s Reef (JJM Reef)
Pie Rock
Pinnacle
Pringle Bay
Pringle Bay Point
Pyramid
Quarry
Rambler Rock
RMS Athens
Rocklands Blinder (Seal Colony)
Rocky Bank
Rocky Bay
Roman Rock
Roman’s Rest
Rooi-els Point
Sandy Cove
SAS Bloemfontein
SAS Fleur
SAS Gelderland
SAS Good Hope
SAS Pietermaritzburg
SAS Transvaal
SATS General Botha
Seal Island
Seal Island (Duiker island)
Sea Point Ridge Pinnacles
Sentinel
Shark Alley
Simon’s Town Harbour
Smits Cliff (Hell’s Gate)
Smits Reef (Birthday Reef, Horseshoe Reef, Batsata Maze)
Smits swim
South Lion’s Paw
South-west Reefs
Spaniard Rock
SS Bia
SS Cape Matapan
SS Clan Monroe
SS Clan Stuart
SS Hypatia
SS Lusitania
SS Maori
SS Oakburn
SS SA Seafarer
SS Star of Africa
SS Thomas T Tucker
SS Umhlali
Star Wall
Steenbras Deep Reef
Steps
Stern Reef
Stonehenge
Strawberry Rocks
Sunny Cove
Tafelberg Deep
Tafelberg Reef
Three Anchor Bay
Tivoli Pinnacles
Tony’s Reef
Torch Reef
Troglodyte’s Cove (Cave Gully)
Two Oceans Aquarium
Vogelsteen
Vulcan Rock
Whale Rock
Whirlpool cove
Whittle Rock
Windmill Beach
Wonder Reef

Bookshelf: Fish identification books

Your diving experiences will be immeasurably enhanced by the addition of one or two fish identification books to your library. Choose books that are appropriate to the region(s) you tend to dive in the most. There’s a lot to choose from here.

Cape Town

Southern Africa

Warm seas

Worldwide

Also check out Eye of the Shoal, not strictly about fish identification, but all about fish!

Bookshelf: Books about sharks

Sharks! All about sharks! Get some actual, scientific facts here. You can dive as deep as you want into the subject – here’s a wide selection of shark books for you to choose from.

Living with sharks

Start here!

South African special interest

Shark biology

Shark research

Shark attacks

Shark photography