Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Quarry
The site is easily accessible from the shore in good weather.
S34° 09.390’ E018° 26.157’ (Entry/exit ledge)
The site may be easily identified by a short wall at the side of the road with a sign indicating the boundary of Simon's Town, and a large paved parking area between the road and the railway line.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.
The site name "Quarry" refers to the old sandstone quarry in the hillside above the road slightly to the north, which was closed in the late 1970’s.
The site is shallow, The 10m contour is about 250m offshore.
Sloping ramp-like ridges approximately perpendicular to shoreline (roughly north west/south east). Occasional sandy pockets. Relief not very high. The edge of the entry ledge is about 1.5 to 2m high, but most of the reef is flatter. The reef runs out offshore, and then after a sandy patch there is more rocky reef in the form of outcrops with sand between, and futher out some areas with pebbles, Further north is similar but flatter. Not a spectacular site, but provides substrate and shelter for a wide range of organisms.
Geology: Ordivician sandstone of the Table Mountain group. Probably Peninsula formation, or the underlying Graafwater formation. Strike is east/west, and the dip is shallow (about 10°) and to the south.
The site is exposed to south easterly wind and waves. It is reasonably sheltered from short period south westerly swell, and the site is usually at it's best in winter, but there are also occasional opportunities during autumn and spring. Some surge is to be expected, particularly in the shallower areas, and entries and exits should be timed to coincide with lulls in the wave sets. The site may be diveable when more popular sites to the south side of Simon’s Town are too rough. Judge by the conditions at the entry ledge.
Adequate and convenient tarred parking lot at the Whale Lookout. Park as near to the top of the hill as possible, as this is where the path to the entry point starts.
Off-road parking is available at the “Simon’s Town” Sign just before Glencairn at S34°09.384', E018°26.117'. Shown in the aerial photo as a strip of tarred surface joining the main road near the top of the picture. The path starts at a gate in the fence at the top of the parking lot, near the white wall with the Simon’s Town sign. Cross the railway line and walk down to the sloping sandstone ridge (top centre). Enter and exit from the north side of this ridge at a position which suits the state of the tide. Dive to the east and north of the entry point.
Close inshore there are sparse kelp forests with occasional Red bait, lots of bushy corallines and quite a few urchins on the flatter areas. The walls and overhangs support a far wider variety of life. Further out the sandy areas are fairly bare, with buried Golden sea cucumbers and long tube fanworms, a few plough shells and Long siphoned whelks. The deeper reefs have gorgonian sea fans, Mauve sea cucumbers, lots of Common feather stars and a few Elegant feather stars. The pebble beds among the deeper reefs have a few cerianthids, The flatter reefs to the north have Red chested cucumbers and colonial ascidians in moderate numbers.
The site is quite good for invertebrate photography. (photographic equipment suggestions)
Entry from sloping rock ledge. Dive and work your way along the wall of the ledge, find the little overhangs and horizontal crevices, some with sand at the bottom. Then move further out generally following the ridge in a more or less SSE direction (about 160° magnetic), cross over a patch of sand to more reef, mostly quite low. Continue in this way navigating by compass, surge direction and reef trend to about 250m offshore or as your air supply allows, then turn and head magnetic north for a while, then when back over reef, swing round to west. Surface when shallow or low on air and head back to the ledge to exit.
Railway crossing. Slippery rocks at entry/exit point.
No special skills are required. The site is suitable for novices and snorkelling, and appears suitable for night dives.
No special equipment recommended. A compass can be convenient to keep track of where you are.