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NL1983

Registered
Messages
16
Reaction score
5
Location
Sydney
# of dives
500 - 999
Hi all,

My wife and I are looking at a next trip, no specific timing in mind. We both have ~800 and are spoiled to the bone, so please be critical :).

After going through an extreme macro fase (Lembeh, Ambon etc) we are going through a 'big stuff' fase, preferably sharks. We're just back from Tahiti and diving with 9 different species of sharks and having more than 200 grey reefs on a some of our dives was heavenly :).

SA and Mozambique seem to fit the picture for a next trip, but when I read what you CAN see and what people DO see there seem to be some discrepancy.

I would really appreciate if other experienced and spoiled people can tell me honestly what I should and shouldn't expect to see in terms of large pelagics at the following locations:
- Tofo
- Inhambane
- Punto d'ouro
- Sodwana
- Aliwal Shoal

If there are any 'best timings' for the large pelagics please feel free to add. I don't mind combining 2-3 of these spots.

Thank you for your help!
 

Alastor

Contributor
Messages
350
Reaction score
96
Location
Italy
# of dives
200 - 499
I'm interested too, keep watching...
 
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Location
Mozambique
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Hi,
I'm a spoilt diver but also a dive shop owner in Tofo;-). Here's how I see diving here, I hope that helps you with your decision making.

About large pelagics, Tofo does have them but it's definitely not guaranteed that you see them on every dive.

We have whale sharks here when we have plankton, but when we have plankton is really difficult to tell:). There are weeks without any sightings and then we have times when we have twelve whale sharks suck-feeding together.

Mantas are here year round and all of our deep sites have cleaning stations. It's same with them as t's with whale sharks, sometimes they're here and sometimes week will pass without sightings.

We also have sharks here, but nothing like you've seen before. We can get several species on a same dive, but not big schools.

What is guaranteed in Tofo is lots of fish!! The best thing in my opinion is that you never know what you'll encounter; dugong, sailfish, guitar shark, bull shark, molamola... You name it!

We have humpback whales migrating here in July-September. You can hear them singing on every dive and if you dive a lot, you might get to meet them underwater. At least you can see then breaching on the surface.

Last year July-August were magical, lots of humpbacks, whale sharks and mantas. The thing is that nobody knows if it's going to be same this year. Anyway, I'd come that time if I'd consider visiting Tofo/Inhambane area.

We've been diving around the world and still ended up staying in Tofo. Because of the diving. If you spend enough time here and dive a lot, you should be able to see all the big pelagics mentioned above. And even if you don't, I believe that you'll still enjoy the variety and amount of fish.

Happy bubbles:).
 

Alastor

Contributor
Messages
350
Reaction score
96
Location
Italy
# of dives
200 - 499
Thanks a lot for the information.
 

NatashaS

Contributor
Messages
155
Reaction score
62
# of dives
1000 - 2499
NL1983 you invited critical feedback so with no disrespect to South African and Tofo diving (both of which I have enjoyed) in my experience if you want big animals/sharks on the level that Lembeh and Ambon are for macro, I think you should be looking at the Galapagos and Cocos.

Galapagos is listed in your profile - did you do a liveaboard? If so, if you went to Darwin and Wolf in a good season I would expect you saw spectacular schools of hammerheads, large Galapagos sharks, blacktips, silkies, gigantic (often pregnant) whale sharks (in season), dolphins and/or porpoises, mola mola, schooling eagle rays, sea lions and there's a good chance of mantas, schooling mustard rays, mobulas and fur seals, in addition to random encounters with tuna, orca, etc in addition to the breathtaking topside wildlife and vistas. If you did not do a Galapagos liveaboard earlier, I cannot recommend one strongly enough.

For Cocos there's a chance of silvertips (there's a cleaning station) and tiger sharks (random), and the famous hunting white tip night dive, but no molas, much less reliable whale sharks, blacktips and silkies, etc. but greater chances of bait balls. Personally I far prefer Galapagos in whale shark season or in Dec but I've met very experienced divers who prefer Cocos so both deserve a visit I think.

I spent 2 weeks in Tofo in Mar 2014 and think LDA's summary is very fair. We saw guitar sharks (several), mantas (many but deep sites only - and whether you dive the deep sites usually depends on client numbers) and whale sharks (on the surface, snorkelling only, much smaller animals than Galapagos) but others diving the same 2 weeks I was there had less luck with whale sharks. I'm not sure if tourists see the Tofo humpbacks underwater very often but you've already been to Tonga so I expect you've had long and close in-water experiences with humpbacks there. I don't recall seeing any non-bottom-dwelling sharks in Tofo beyond the young whale sharks, and when you're talking about sailfish apart from the dedicated Isla Mujeres trips IMO you're talking about a lottery anywhere in the world.

I have looked several times at Sodwana, but have never seen it marketed as a big animal mecca. My good friend who has dove there told me mantas and whale sharks are much less reliable there than they are in Tofo. A Cape Town instructor and photographer friend did a week there in Apr 2016 and the only shark shots in his albums are of a white tip (if you consider them sharks :wink: ) and a whale shark fly by.

Aliwal in contrast is known for shark diving which makes sense given the Aliwal dives are baited.

Re. Ponta do Ouro I've seen many queries in this forum asking how the diving is there, but not many answers. My friend is visiting in Sep and should post a thorough album - PM me if you want more info.

If you decide on South Africa, not sure how much you like cold water but it might be worth dropping down to Cape Town as well. There's a baited open ocean blue and mako shark dive there (we had nonstop close blues and about 15 min with 2 makos but they're not guaranteed), plus reliable seven gill sharks locally (seasonal - colder water, vis can be low). And though the great white shark cage snorkelling off Gansbaai is extremely touristy, the sharks themselves are still very impressive.

Be interested to hear what you decide!
 
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