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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Tafelberg Reef

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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : Tafelberg Reef
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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Tafelberg Reef

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The dive site Tafelberg Reef is an offshore rocky reef in the outer Hout Bay area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.



S34°04.195' E018°18.812' (Tafelberg Reef West)

S34°03.986' E018°18.958' (Tafelberg reef North)

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


A large area of reef off the Karbonkelberg headland to the south west of Hout Bay, is marked "Tafelberg" on the charts. The reef extends continuously from the Vulcan Rock area to the north west, to the Klein Tafelberg area in the south east. Tafelberg translates to Table Mountain.


Max depth is about 30m, top of reef about 8m on the highest pinnacles.


This is an area where visibility is likely to be better than average. On a good day it can exceed 20m, but 10m is more likely. Good visibility is often associated with several days of strong south easterly wind which causes upwelling of clear, cold water from the depths. This water is often rich in dissolved nutrients, and if the wind is followed by a few days of bright sunshine, there may be an plankton bloom, also known as a 'red tide' which may decrease the visibility, particularly in the surface layers. However, the deeper water may still be relatively clear, though the light levels will be less and the water will be much greener.


Rugged granite corestone outcrops with high relief and sand bottom at about 29m to the west. There are deep crevices and gullies. There is not much overhang, but a lot of vertical faces. The site is very rugged and spectacular in good visibility.

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton


The site is exposed to south westerly swells, which can cause a strong surge. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and winter.

This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by strong south easterly winds, resulting in cold clear water, which may develop a plankton bloom over a few days, which will reduce the visibility again.

Keep a lookout for times when the south west swell is low and short period, and there is not too much south easterly wind forecast.

Get in[edit]

The site is only accessible by boat. It is about 4.5km from Hout Bay Harbour. Boats may anchor, but conditions are usually more appropriate for drift dives.

See[edit][add listing]

Colonial ascidians
Dreadlocks hydroids
Soft corals
Sponges and zoanthids

Marine life[edit]

Reef heavily encrusted with red and brown algae on shallower horizontal surfaces, sponges, hard and soft corals and ascidians on more vertical surfaces. Seals may visit, particularly during decompression stops. Sand appears relatively barren.


Good site for photography.


Preferably a live boat dive as the reef is large and there may be a current.

Stay safe[edit]


Cold water, Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.


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


It is cold and moderately deep, and a dry suit is recommended. This is a dive site where the use of Nitrox can be worthwhile to extend no-stop time. A light is recommended for looking into crevices and to restore colour to the marine invertebrates. This is a large site, well offshore, and it is strongly recommended to carry a DSMB and reel. A compass can also be useful for keeping track of directions, as there are few other clues.

Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay#Outer Hout Bay

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