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Travel bucket list idea:

Swim with dolphins on the Aliwal Shoals

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

Dolphins are ever-present at this incredible reef just off the coast of Durban year round, but May to July is the time to go to witness the ‘Sardine Run’.

Made famous by ‘Blue Planet’, this extraordinary natural spectacle sees billions of sardines migrate up South Africa’s Eastern Coast from – attracting every denizen of the deep, including 18,000 common and bottlenose dolphins. Divers can be dropped into the feeding frenzy to see dolphins hunting in packs.


Price from: £40
Minimum age: 18
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Half day

When to do it

You can dive at Aliwal Shoal all year round. Dolphins are ever-present. It’s less busy from September to November due to strong winds. Water temperatures vary between 18 – 26°C depending on the time of year.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

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.