Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Insanity Reef
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.
There is speculation that the site name "Insanity Reef" is a result of someone suggesting it as a shore dive. It isn't really that difficult in good conditions.
Maximum depth is about 14m on the sand beyond the rocks. The top of the reef is at about 2m. Waves will break over this rock if there is much swell.
Large granite corestone outcrops and boulders on a fairly level sand bottom. The sand slopes gradually down to the east and is fairly fine with wave ripples and coarse grains of shell and coralline seaweed fragments near the reef. The reef is smaller than Alpha and more broken up, but compact and all the rocks are close together. There is a huge boulder at the north end which stands on the outcrops to form a small sand-bottomed swim-through with about 4 entrances. This is the highest rock of the reef and rises to about 2m from the surface. Further south the reef is lower but still steep sided, and is made up of a few large outcrops with occasional undercuts, crevices and overhangs. The long axis of the reef is NW-SE (149°magnetic) and it is about 75m long by about 50m wide.
Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton
The site is exposed to wind from all directions and waves from the south east and south west. The site will usually be at it's best in winter on days when the swell is low, but there are also occasional opportunities during the rest of the year. Conditions will probably be suitable if shore entry conditions are OK and there is no strong offshore wind. The return swim to shore could be a problem in a strong offshore wind (north west). If the south-easter is blowing there may be a slight current setting northwards, and the chop may make shore exit tricky.
The gravel roadside lay-bye on the seaward side of the M4 is where you park. It will be muddy in winter. There has never been a shortage of parking reported, but that is more due to the small number of dives done here than to the size of the parking area.
Generally considered a boat dive from Miller’s Point, but also occasionally done as a shore dive from Spaniard Rock north entry.
For a shore entry, there is adequate parking on the gravel shoulder on the seaward side of the main road, near the signpost warning against baboons.
Spaniard rock in the background seen from the road. The “path” starts in the foreground. Insanity reef is about in line with the dark rock to the left of centre Access to the shore is poor. There are several steep eroded paths, some worse than others. Choose the one that looks best on the day. All are slippery and steep, with loose gravel. If you have a large group it may be worth arranging a rope for safety, otherwise a walking stick or staff could be useful. It is quite a long swim (about 330m) to the site, specially in a dry-suit, but not exceptional.
The entry and exit point at the north of Rocklands Point showing the offshore blinder in the middle background. This is used for shore entry to Insanity Reef, which is about 320m out from here.
The reef has a zone of heavy red-bait at the top, with sparse Split fan kelp, and lower down the sides are mostly covered by common feather stars with patches of red and grey cucumbers, striped anemones, and strawberry anemones. The swimthrough also has red-bait underneath, hanging from the roof. There are a few sea fans in the deeper areas, many of which are overgrown by other sessile organisms.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
Either swim out on the surface to the reef of go by boat. Position is most easily fixed by GPS. Dive round the reef and visit the swimthrough at the north west end. After you have seen the reef, either return to the boat or swim back to shore on compass course 245°magnetic from the north end of the reef or 255°magnetic from the south end of the reef. There will be other reefs on the way, and you may find the blinder.
No site specific hazards have been reported. For shore entries, offshore wind may increase in strength significantly during the dive. The path is steep and slippery and in poor condition.
No special skills are required for boat dives. The ability to navigate using a compass is necessary for a shore dive as is a reasonable level of fitness and agility
No special equipment suggested for boat dive. A SMB to indicate your position to boats, and a compass to navigate to and from the reef are necessary for shore entry dives.