The reefs at Sodwana Bay
The coastline runs north-north-easterly with the reefs being parallel to the coastline, approximately 500m offshore. The winds are mainly north-easterly or south-westerly. The wave action is onshore and varies from 0.5m to 3m. Dive boats are RIB's (rigid inflatable boats) otherwise known as "rubberducks" in South Africa. These boats are launched through the surf in the protected bay behind Jesser point.
The reefs are named after the distance (in miles) from the launch site at Jesser point. In 1822 the Royal Navy sent the ships Leven, Barracouta, and Cockburn to survey the coastline. The captain of the Barracouta was Lieutenant A.Vidal, after whom Cape Vidal was named, and Leven Point was named after the sloop HMS Leven. The various points along the coast: Jesser, Liefeldt's, Gobey & Hully were named after officers on the ships who died of malaria.
¼ MILE REEF
This reef is an extension of the beach rock at Jesser Point and extends about 600m from the beach. The depth varies from 0m to 12m. It has a set of pinnacles which come up to within 2m of the surface. The northern point is the preferred aggregation point of our favourite summer visitors up to 40 gestating spotted ragged tooth sharks.
2 MILE REEF
This is the largest and most often dived reef at Sodwana Bay. There are numerous divesites on this reef with a hugely varying topography. This reef is almost always accessible due to it being protected by its proximity to the launch site and sheltered behind the dunes. The landward edge of the reef has sparse coral, changing to pinnacles and gullies with the reef flattening out on the seaward side. It is approximately 2.1km long and 0.9km wide at its widest point. Depths range between 9m and 30m and average 14m.
5 MILE REEF
The reef is located 8km from Jesser Point. The reef is flat and known for its coral formations. There are numerous rocky outcrops off the reef making it an interesting exploration dive. Hard corals comprise 60% of the corals on this reef making it the closest to an Indo-Pacific reef in the area. This reef is approximately 1.2km long and 1.05km wide. Depths range between 15m and 35m and average 22m.
7 MILE REEF
This is probably the most impressive reef at Sodwana with the North Wall and Mushroom Rocks in the south being the most beautiful areas. The reef is located 11km from Jesser Point. This reef is approximately 1.4km long and 0.39km wide. Depths range between 14m and 25m and average 18m.
8 MILE REEF
This reef is intersected by deep sandy gullies. It is well known for its large fish densities and especially the huge shoals of schooling coachmen. The reef is located 12km from Jesser Point. This reef is approximately 1km long and 0.2km wide. Depths range between 12m and 29m and average 15m.
9 MILE REEF
The reef is probably best known for its huge green tree coral tree surrounded by numerous goldies and rubberlips. On the seaward side it has huge boulders strewn haphazardly around the reef, creating swim-throughs, overhangs and caves. On a calm day the most dramatic divesite is breaking waters which varies in depth from 3m to 8m and is full of dark tunnels and caves. The reef is located 14km from Jesser Point. This reef is approximately 2km long and 1km wide at its widest point. Depths range between 3m and 23m and average 12m.