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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Roman Rock

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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : Roman Rock
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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Roman Rock

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The dive site Roman Rock is an offshore rocky reef in the Simon's Bay area on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

This site comprises a cluster of huge outcrops separated by sand bottom, on one of which the lighthouse stands.


Map of the dive sites around Roman Rock.
Map of the dive site at Roman Rocks Reef

Roman Rock reef is part of the Roman Rock reef complex offshore in Simon's Bay on the west side of False Bay. This is an extensive area of granite reef, much of which is inside the Boulders restricted zone of the Table Mountain Marine Protected Area. It id a topographically rugged reef, with exposed rocks and a few other very shallow areas, and extends down to a sand surround. The reef complex has several large reef areas, of which this is the south-westernmost, and a large number of smaller reef sections and isolated rock outcrops. The marine life is quite varied, though echinoderms are dominant, and a moderate variety of reef fish can be seen.

The site is popular when launches are made from the False Bay Yacht Club, as it is conveniently close. The reef is prominently matked by the exposed rocks and the lighthouse — You can't miss it...


S34°10.51’ E018°27.36’

An easy dive site to find as it is marked by the lighthouse of the same name off Simon’s Town Harbour.

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required. The site is probably entirely inside the Boulders Restricted Zone.

The Roman, after which the site is named.


There are several places on the South African coast known as "Roman Rock", and Roman Reef, and it is probable that they are all named after the common reef fish, the Roman Chrysoblephus laticeps.


Maximum depth is on sand at about 18m. The top of the reef breaks the surface in places.


Flat coarse shelly sand bottom at about 17m with large granite corestones. Very large boulders and outcrops extend over a fairly large area, with deep gullies and high ridges. Dramatic relief. Two large rocks break the surface and support the lighthouse structure and helipad. The long axis of the reef runs roughly east-west and the main reef is about 400m long and 110m wide north to south, with the widest point to the east of the lighthouse.

Geology: Granite corestone outcrops and boulders of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, surrounded by whitish quartz sand, with a varied anount of shelly debris.


This site can be dived any time of the year that has low or short period swell. Poor visibility at the surface does not necessarily extend to the bottom. The site is exposed to winds from all directions, which can produce an unpleasant choppy sea, and make it difficult for the boat crew to see a diver on the surface. The site is usually at it's best in winter and spring.

Get in[edit]

This site is always dived from a boat, though Navy divers in training were traditionally required to swim back to the base from this area, The site is 3.3km from Simon’s Town, and 5.6km from Miller's Point.

See[edit][add listing]

Blue spotted klipfish
Crowned nudibranch
Reef top life
Sandy anemones
Striped anemones on a large Red-bait pod
Spiny starfish

Marine life[edit]

The rocks are encrusted with a variety of organisms depending on depth and orientation. There is kelp and sea urchins on the tops in shallower areas, and Red-bait and other large solitary ascidians scattered around. The steeper sides are largely covered by common feather stars, with some dense areas of mauve sea cucumbers on the tops of ridges, There are also occasional sea fans, some quite large. The sand is coarse and shelly near the rocks, and there are sand stars, brittle stars, sand slugs, cerianthids and purple sea pens on the sand.


This is a good photographic site. Macro or wide angle lenses are suggested.


There are no recommended routes. Start deep and work your way along the base of the rocks, slowly ascending and preferably surfacing from the top of a high outcrop.

Stay safe[edit]


Great white sharks have been seen in the vicinity.


No special skills required, though the ability to deploy a DSMB is useful in case you are separated from the group or need to surface away from the shot line.


A light is useful to restore colour at depth, a compass to keep track of your movements, a DSMB to let the boat know you are surfacing, and Nitrox can extend no-decompression time significantly in this depth range.

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