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Difference between revisions of "Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Clifton Rocks"

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Revision as of 20:07, 16 November 2010

The dive site Clifton Rocks is an inshore rocky reef in the Clifton area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Contents

Understand

Aerial view of the Clifton Rocks dive site. The site described is around the rocks slightly to the right of upper centre. The entry and exit point is middle right.

Position

S33°56.346’ E018°22.222’ (North west corner of rocks)

S33°56.448’ E018°22.371’ (Entry point)

S33°56.487’ E018°22.415’ (Parking area)

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.

Name

The site "Clifton Rocks" is named for the large group of large rocks at the point at the southern end of Clifton fourth beach.

Depth

Maximum depth is about 14m, average about 7m


Topography

Granite corestone boulders of large size rising from about 10m depth to in some cases 5 or more metres above the water. Many of the boulders are undercut at the bottom and resting on granite outcrops, so there are deep crevices and overhangs, several smallish swim-throughs and a few fairly narrow gaps. Surge can be strong at times in the gaps. The jumble of rocks gets denser and shallower to the south and surge and breaking waves can be quite impressive. Sand bottom to the north and inshore of the big rocks is mostly quite fine, with occasional areas of shells and coarse sand.

Geology: Huge granite boulders of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, with fine white quarz sand bottom

Conditions

The entry and exit area is exposed to north west swell, but protected from the south west. The dive site is exposed to both north and south west swell, which can be extremely turbulent in the narrow spaces between the rocks if large or long. There will almost always be some surge. The site will be best when the swell is low and short, which is often associated with south easterly winds. The site is usually at it's best in summer, but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter.


Facilities

Parking may be a problem on weekends as the beach is very popular in summer and it is sheltered from the south easter. Get there early.

Get in

File:(views of the entry point)
Clifton rocks in the background, showing the high rocks to the right and the lower rocks to the left. The entry area is in the foreground where the divers are getting ready.

This is normally a shore dive. Turn off Victoria Road, Clifton, south of Fourth beach into The Ridge. Drive down to the furthest available parking area. The path to the rocks is at the sign for house #93. There is a narrow paved path with steps which passes between the plots and comes out on top of rocks facing to the north. Entry points are a few metres further along the point on large gently sloping north-facing rock with encrustation of black mussels. Entry and exit are easy, and well sheltered from south westerly swell.

See

File:(photo of bobtails)
Large numbers of bobtails may be seen here at times

Marine life

Typical of the general area. Heavy kelp on rocks in gaps and on top of submerged rocks of shallow depth. The sea bamboo Ecklonia near the surface and the Split-fan kelp Laminaria in deeper water. There may be large numbers of bobtails on the sand, where they bury themselves and lie with only eyes exposed, until startled, when they dart off leaving a little cloud of ink.

Features

Narrow gaps and swimthroughs, and a little enclosed inlet at the north western corner of the exposed rocks.

Photography

Fairly good site for photography. No specific equipment suggestions.

Routes

Surface swim out to the inshore side of the big rocks. Dive and swim around the big rocks anti-clockwise to the offshore side and to the last big rock. Depending on conditions, retrace your path or if a quiet day, make your way back in between the rocks or continue further south and west. These areas are shallow and can get very rough. At the north west corner of the high rocks there is a little inlet amongst the rocks which is quite pleasant. Return to the entry rock by compass across the sand bottom will take about 20 minutes if you have enough air.

Stay safe

Hazards

Cold water, Strong surge and breaking waves over exposed and shallow rocks. Sea urchins.

Skills

No special skills required. There are areas of sand bottom which would be suited to basic skills exercises, though the main dive site is a bit far for entry level trainees. This is a good area for snorkelling. A reasonable level of fitness is required for shore entries

Equipment

A light is useful to look into crevices, and a compass helps keep track of where you are, but is not essential.

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Clifton

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