SCUBA diving at Thonga Beach is phenomenal, with reefs located a short distance from the lodge. Shoals of game fish, sharks and schools of bottlenose dolphins are often seen. Our professional lodge diving team accommodates all enthusiasts; from the beginner to the veteran, wanting a tour of the very best our reefs have to offer. 1,250 fish species (the Great Barrier Reef has 1500) occur on the reefs in this area. We dive in a marine protected area and some sites are dived exclusively by Thonga guests. Dives are from a semi-rigid dive boat which accommodates a maximum of 8 divers at a time. The boat launches from straight in front of the lodge directly through the surf. This can be exciting and strenuous so a reasonable level of fitness is required. Diving is limited by weather and the tides and cannot be guaranteed. Guests must have proof of their diving qualifications. SCUBA training is available at our PADI dive cente. We regret no children under 12 years or adults over 65 years.
Our resident Instructor is PADI trained and certified and offers a variety of courses to suit your individual requirements to get you breathing underwater and exploring the spectacular coral reefs at Thonga.
Diving at Thonga has been rated by seasoned divers to be world class. This coastline is typically verged by a continental shelf stretching for about three to five kilometres out to sea, before giving way to deeper, abyssal waters, but the shallow shelf immediately offshore is cut through by several canyon like reefs, relics of riverine erosion from a time when the ocean level was lower than it is today.
Diving is weather and tide dependent, as these affect boat launchings and at times can be cancelled at the last minute. Our PADI trained and certified instructors are passionate about the Indian Ocean and are able to share this infectious love of the sea by taking you to beyond the breakers and below the surface.
Thonga Home Reef – Gogos
Gogos is our most exciting and beautiful reef. As it is situated just beyond the backline, right in front of our lodge, it makes the boat trip to this site less than 5 minutes! The name Gogos means ‘Old Woman’ in Zulu and it refers to the old woman Angelfish that swims mid-water above the reef, playing with and biting diver’s bubbles.
The depth ranges from 10 metres to a maximum of 18 metres. Gogos has a combination of a main, solid reef structure with rock and coral outcrops in impressive shapes and formations. Sand patches between the reefs often offer Ray sightings. As if the reef structure isn’t impressive enough, this reef offers a prolific array of fish, not only in numbers but also variety. Then add other sea-life like turtles, shrimps, lobster, anenomies, Tiger Cowries and you can see why a good dive on Gogos is hard to beat.
There is also a resident Potato Bass who has surprised many of our divers by seeming to appear from nowhere!
This reef offers spectacular big game and reef fish. It is situated a little further offshore, the average depth is 16 metres to a maximum of 22 metres. On the northern side of the reef a small ledge starts developing into a wall as we move southwards. It’s a good idea to bring a dive torch along, as there are several deep caves and crevices where moray eels, different type of shrimp and other interesting sea-life are frequently spotted. Further south the wall fades to a steep slope and the sandy bottom is replaced by more reefs with plenty of interesting hiding places. A cloud of Yellow Banded Snapper usually hovers at the base of the slope.
Higher up the incline are more caves with anything from Lobster to Lionfish present. On the south side the slope gradually fades out again to a flat reef.
This very exciting reef offers spectacular coral, canyons and swim-throughs. Waterworld is situated only a couple of hundred metres from the shore and starts at a depth of 7 metres with a maximum depth of 14 metres. From the minute we roll over and descend down to the reef it feels like an amusement park. Swimming down the canyons, there is coral splashed out on the walls, which goes up and over into the next cove and canyon.
For the experienced diver, there are two swim-throughs, guarded by Chubs and Baardman.
This reef is covered in pristine coral. Because of the depth, this underwater playground seems to attract a lot of juvenile fish of all species. Brightly coloured Fusiliers often swim over in mid-water. Turtles are plentiful and can often be seen sleeping in caves or heading up to the surface for some fresh air. The sighting of a Regal Angel is also possible. However, this dive is more suitable to calm sea conditions.
This course is for the kids and a great way to keep them busy whilst you enjoy the peace and tranquillity at Thonga. A great introduction to SCUBA, this course takes place in the swimming pool, using SCUBA equipment and just allows them to play around under close supervision of an instructor. The course is open to anyone 8 years of age or older.
This course will introduce you to the enjoyment of breathing underwater. Conducted entirely in the swimming pool, it’s a great way to overcome any initial misgivings. The course is open to anyone 10 years of age or older. This course may count towards your Open Water Dive qualification.
Discover SCUBA Diving
This course is our most popular. It is ideal for guests who do not have time on their hands to do a full certification course, but would still like to explore the wonders beneath the ocean at Thonga. Discover SCUBA Diving will allow you to dive to 12m under the close supervision of an Instructor. This is perfect, as some of our best reefs are at 12m and shallower. (This is not a qualification course – but you are allowed to dive elsewhere with an instructor for a period of 1 year. It will give you credit towards your Open Water or SCUBA Diver course which you can complete at any PADI Dive Centre.) Usually this course can be done in one day; however it is advisable to allow for two due to varying tides and weather conditions. Open to anyone over 12 years of age.
Includes: 1-2 hour pool training and 1 x Ocean Dive
This three day course is ideal for guests who would like to get a dive certification but don’t have time to do the full open water course. These dives count towards your Open Water Diver qualification. This qualification certifies you to dive up to 12m with an Instructor. This is perfect, as some of our best reefs are at 12m and shallower. Open to anyone over 12 years of age.
Includes: Crew pack with dive tables, pic cards, log book and dive book, dive theory, pool training and 2 x ocean dives
At least four days and five nights is required for this course. It will give you a full open water diving certification and allows you and your buddy to dive independently to a depth of 18m. This course is recommended to all those that would like to start diving regularly and is recognized internationally. Open to anyone over 12 years of age.
Includes: Crew pack with dive tables, pic cards, log book and dive book, dive theory, pool training and 4 x ocean dives
Digital crew packs can be emailed for self study prior to arrival which leaves more water time once at the Lodge.
For those people who want to do the full open water certification course but who do not want to spend their time at Thonga studying dive theory and in the pool, we recommend you do all your training at home and then just bring along all the relevant documents. We will then do your 4 x open water dives at Thonga. Remember, you will have to do your training with a PADI instructor.
Includes PIC card and 4 x ocean dives
For those who have not dived within the last 6 months is strongly recommended by PADI to take the refresher course. Safety is our first priority and the resident PADI instructor will guide you through the course.
Advanced Open Water Diver and Junior Advanced Open Water Diver
This qualification provides the qualified diver with additional experience through a structured, well-supervised course and will allow you to dive up to depths of 30m. There are two mandatory dives, the Deep Diver and the Navigation Diver and 3 elective dives.
At Thonga Beach Lodge Marine Centre we make every effort to ensure that our guests have an awesome experience, but we will not compromise safety and will not take people diving if we feel they are not capable of diving the current conditions. All courses are weather and tide dependent.
The boat is launched with a tractor in front of the lodge and can only be done around the low tide because of the large shore break waves that come up at high tide. When the tide is low in the morning launches will be done early when the low tide is in the afternoon, launches will be later. For this reason when the boat is launched, it is not possible to launch for another dive later in the day. We can do 2 dives in a day, but then we take 2 cylinders with us as well as food and drinks for a 2 dive excursion.
Please note that the launch site for the boat at Mabibi is particularly difficult due to large surf and a launch site exposed to the full force of the Indian Ocean. It will be at the skipper’s discretion whether to launch the boat and there is a minimum age limit for the boat of 12 years. This is also at the skipper’s discretion should he feel the sea is calm enough to take out younger boat riders. There is a possibility of launches being cancelled for safety reasons but often the snorkel pool is still safe enough to enjoy when we cannot launch the boat.
It is best to plan your diving around the summer months from December to June for the best chance of good sea conditions. It is also advisable to come when the low tide is in the morning.
Please follow this link to check the tides for our area for the time you are arriving:
http://sanho.co.za/tides/tide_index.htm scroll to Richards Bay and select the month you are coming.
Mabibi is regarded as one of the best snorkelling sites in South Africa. The coral reefs along this protected stretch of coastline are home to thousands of species of tropical fish. Our Rockpool Snorkeling area is home to mostly juvenile fish, but you can see Octopus, Fire Fish, Moray Eels and Electric Rays too. The snorkelling is in the bay, about 400metres south of the lodge. Snorkelling is tide dependent and is best at low tide. Guests can also experience the thrill of snorkelling in the open ocean on shallow reefs. See Open Ocean Experience below. Age restrictions do not apply to Rock pool snorkelling, however our fin sizes start at 36/37 and you must be a competent swimmer. Children under 8 need to be accompanied by an adult.
NB: We do not supply dive computers, hoodies, gloves, cameras or any other personalized equipment .
Sea Temperatures & Visibility
Jan Feb Mar/Apr May/June July/Aug Sep/Oct Nov Dec
|Very hot & Humid||Very hot & Humid||Best diving||Best diving||Trade Winds good for kite surfing||Trade Winds good for kite surfing||Thunderstorms||Thunderstorms|
|Jan||Feb||Mar & Apr||May & June||July & August||Sept & Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtles nesting||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtles nesting||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtles nesting||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtles nesting|
|Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings with walks||Loggerhead & Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings|
|Out At Sea||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins||Dolphins|
|Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*||Whale sharks*|
|Manta Rays*||Manta Rays*||Manta Rays*||Manta Rays*|
|Humpback Whales||Humpback Whales||Humpback Whales|
|At the Reefs||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish||Potato Bass, Eagle Rays, Reef fish|
|Ragged Tooth Sharks at Island Rock||Good Game Fish||Good Game Fish||Ragged Tooth Sharks at Island Rock|
|Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles||Green & Olive Ridley Turtles|
|· These are rare sightings – we will always look for them, but make for very special sightings if spotted.|