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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Fan Reef

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The dive site Fan Reef also known as Fantastic Reef is a small offshore rocky reef in the Castle Rocks area on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Map of the dive site Fan Reef.

The site has a large concentration of Gorgonian sea fans


S34°14.165' E18°29.260'

The site is about half way between Miller's Point and Castle Rocks and is on the 30m depth contour. It is about 1.1 km from the shore directly to the west. North Fan Reef is about 100m to the north of Fan Reef across the sand.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.

A Palmate sea fan at north Fan Reef.


The reef is named "Fan Reef" for the large numbers of gorgonian sea fans found there. The alternative name Fantastic Reef is based on the original name.


The bottom is at about 30m on the sand to the east of the reef


Fan Reef: Small isolated granite corestone reef, Large outcrops, some rocks quite high, some low. Reef area more or less contiguous.

North Fan Reef: Granite reef of outcrops and boulders of about 10m maximum height, and up to about 20m long. Rugged terrain, with lots of gulleys and steep walls and quite a few overhangs. There is a small swimthrough probably on the west side just above the sand.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton


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. Generally considered a winter dive site but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and spring.

Get in

Access to this site is only by boat. The distance from Miller's Point slipway is about 1.8km.


Basket star on sea fan
Horsefish and sunburst soft coral
Mauve sea cucumbers and orange sponge
Sea cucumbers
Shy sharks
Multicolour sea fans

Marine life

Notable for a variety of sea fans, Sunburst soft corals, striped and strawberry anemones, Basket stars, feather stars, sea cucumbers, coralline algae, encrusting sponges, urchins, colonial ascidians and a few species of nudibranch. You may also see Horsefish, Barred fingerfins and Shy sharks


The site is fairly deep. Natural light will usually be poor, so a flash will be necessary. There will usually be enough particalate matter in the water to necessitate an external flash for all except close up work. Macro and wide angle lenses will usually provide good results. Subject size will range from a few millimetres to about a metre.


No routes recommended, the reef is quite small and may be comprehensively visited on a dive. Spend some time on the sand at the edge of the rock, and work your way up to the higher parts, to see the widest variety of sea life.

Stay safe


No site specific hazards have been reported.


Appropriate certification for the depth is expected. No special skills are required, though bouyancy control and finning skills should be adequate to avoid damage to the sea fans and other sensitive organisms.


No special equipment required. A DSMB and reel are recommended.

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