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Sardine Run

  • Umkomass, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Last updated: 19 April, 2024

Made famous by the Blue Planet tv series, this extraordinary natural spectacle sees billions of sardines migrate up South Africa’s Eastern Coast.

Every year between February and August, the gigantic fish shoals – up to 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep – spawn in the cool waters of the Aghulas Bank off the coast of Cape Town, before riding the current northwards to the Aliwoal Shoals.

They’re followed by almost every denizen of the deep. Bryde’s and humpback whales, sailfish, blacktip sharks and thousands of dolphins amongst others gorge themselves in a vast feeding frenzy unlike anything else witnessed on Earth.

The migration even rivals, in terms of biomass, the wildebeest migration, another extraordinary wildlife migration spectacle.


Price: Free
Minimum age: 18
Age suitable: 18+
Frequency: annually
When: February-August
Duration: 7 months

Getting there & doing it

If you want to see the action from under the water, the main base to access the Sardine Run is Umkomaas, a small village on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – 40 minutes’ drive south of Durban.

Dive companies will take you out to scuba dive into the melee on full-day trips – see our recommended tour operators.



When to do it

The fish shoals arrive at the Aliwal Shoal in June and July. Diving trips run daily during this period.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Shark Explorers

  • Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Shark Explorers


Shark Explorers

Highly experienced and professional shark diving specialist offering diving/snorkelling with blue and mako sharks, and cage diving with great white sharks, in Cape Town. They also organise diving trips to see the Sardine Run, and shark diving in Bimini to see hammerheads and tigers.

Aliwal Dive Centre

  • Umkomass, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Aliwal Dive Centre logo


Aliwal Dive Centre

The biggest of the local dive operators, offering diving on the Aliwal Shoal with tiger sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whale sharks, and special dive packages to witness the great ‘sardine run’. They cater to all levels of experience.