Aliwal Shoal hope spot

Aliwal Shoal is set close to Umkomaas on the South Coast, and is rated as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world because it’s so rich in life, plus the water is warm and visibility is usually very good.


The shoal is a rocky reef about five kilometres off the KwaZulu-Natal’s coast; it’s about three kilometres long and a kilometer wide; it’s part of one of South Africa’s 24 marine protected areas.

There’s a remarkable range of marine life here, from bright reef fish and corals, to turtles and, of course, sharks: tiger sharks, whale sharks, hammerheads, black tips, bull sharks, the odd great white and, of course, the ragged-tooth shark, which comes to the shoal to mate and is one of its main tourist attractions.

iconic species

Ragged-tooth shark (Carcharias taurus) This fierce-looking creature can grow to about 3,2 metres, and live up to 40 years. Their teeth grow in rows and forwards, so they’re assured of constant, sharp new tools and can lose and replace thousands in their lifetime. They gather around KZN’s southern waters and in the northern Eastern Cape to mate in November and December, then head north to Mozambique to gestate. They come back to waters around the Kei River to give birth.

The Hope Spots is a citizen-driven project, and we’re still gathering our list of things to do in this Hope Spot. If you have some suggestions, please mail these to with the words ‘Hope Spot things to do’ in the subject line.