Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Caravan Reef
Caravan Reef is a large area of granite reef to the north east of the slipway at Miller's Point, and as such is very close to the launch area. One would think that it would be a popular dive site, but it is largely unexplored, unlike the adjacent wreck of the SAS Pietermaritzburg, which is one of the most frequently dived site on the Cape Peninsula.
In spite of this, there are several very pleasant areas of reef in the Caravan Reef. These are distributed geographically over several sectors of reef.
Approximately half a square kilometer of reef centred about 750m north-east of the Miller's Point slipway, and about 700m in diameter.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.
This site is offshore of the caravan park at Miller’s Point, which may be the origin of the name "Caravan Reef".
This is an extensive area of granite reef. It can be subdivided into a number of sections:
North Caravan Reef: Sand at about 22m on the east side. Top of the reef is at about 12m. There is a long ridge running roughly north-west/south-east which is high to the south-west side, with a steep wall and occasional transverse jointing, and low to the north, with steeper parts further south. This section is separated from Central Caravan Reef by a band of sand bottom at about 20m depth.
Central Caravan Reef: The largest contiguous section of reef. Roughly central to the other sections.
South Caravan Reef: Separated from Central Caravan Reef by a narrow belt of sand. Huge granite outcrops with scattered smaller boulders on a shelly sand bottom. Quite a lot of cracks, but mostly quite narrow and not very deep. A few small overhangs. The pinnacle is quite shallow, at about 4m, but most of the outcrops are much lower, and are seldom as shallow as 10m.
Inner Caravan Reef: Seperated from Central Caravan Reef by a narrow belt of sand. Not yet surveyed.
PMB Pinnacles: Separated from Central Caravan Reef by a narrow belt of sand. This section has a compact group of fairly massive boulders, including an almost pyramidal pinnacle, standing on a flattish base of rock at about 15m, and rising to a small peak about 4m from the surface. Nearby to the south, across a very narrow sand belt, there is a patch of mostly low reef with a few boulders rising above 15m. The adjacent sand is at a depth of 18 to 20m. The reef to the north of the pinnacles is largely unexplored, or at least no details are recorded.
Geology: Late Pre-Cambrian granite corestones of the Peninsula pluton on a sand bottom.
The site is moderately protected from south westerly swell. South east chop may make it unpleasant on the surface, but it may be quiet below the wave base, however a strong south easter or one that blows for a long time will push up a swell that will make it unpleasant all the way down. Generally considered a winter dive site but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring.
Boat dive from Millers Point. About 1km from the slipway (Caravan North) or less.
A wide range of typical False Bay invertebrates may be found on the reefs.
Southern area: In the 15 to 20m depth range the cover is split between a dense turf of large sea squirts with common feather stars on the steeper surfaces, occasional gaps with Strawberry anemones or encrusting sponges, and upper surfaces often covered by Red chested or Mauve sea cucumbers, with a scattering of golden cucumbers. Some low areas with serpent skinned brittle stars. A fair number of gorgonian sea fans, a few Cauliflower and Sunburst soft corals. Quite a number of smallish thickets of arborescent hydroids. Occasional small plocamium. In shallower areas a lot of red-bait or similar on top of the reef.
No particular routes recommended.
This is an area where boat traffic may be heavy. Great white sharks have been sighted near this site.
No special skills required, though the ability to deploy a DSMB is useful in case you need to surface away from the shot line.
Surface marker buoy recommended if you ascend away from the boat as this is an area with a lot of boating traffic, not all of which pays a great deal of attention to diving flags.