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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Castle Rocks

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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : Castle Rocks
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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Castle Rocks

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The dive sites Castle Rocks and Parson's Nose are agroup of rocky reef areas in the Castle Rocks area on the False Bay coast of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Information is provided which may assist in planning Recreational and Research Scuba diving at this site, and links to photographs of marine organisms that have been found there.

These sites are good for fish and invertebrates, and in many places have spectacular topography. All are accessible as shore dives, but the shore access is not easy.

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Extent of the Castle Rocks Marine Restricted Zone.
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Aerial view of Castle Rocks dive sites.(Photo CDS&M)

Names "Castle Rocks" and "Parson's Nose"

Castle Rocks applies to the point as a whole and the offshore rocks to the South East. The point is a small rocky peninsula that is nearly an island at high tide. The name also applies to the Marine Restricted Zone which stretches from Rumbly Bay, just south of Miller's point, to Baboon Rock, just south of Partridge Point. Parson's Nose refers to a small rocky point inthe Castle Rocks South area.

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Map of the dive sites at Castle Rocks and Parson's Nose.


S34°14.353’ E018°28.591’ (Grassy patch between entry points)

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009)


There is limited parking on the gravel shoulder on both sides of the main road (M4). The path to the shoreline starts at steps at the apex of the bend in the road and goes between the houses. If you are parked further north, the gravel access road also leads to the path. The path can be a bit slippery and is not all in good repair, but it is not a difficult climb for a fit person. There are entry and exit points north and south of the grassy patch.

The north access depends to a large degree on tide and swell. Make your own choice after checking on site. There is a rock ridge at S34°14'19.98" E018°28'35.92", roughly parallel to the shoreline, which provides a fairly sheltered little gully which is often a convenient access point. This access point is also used for dives to Pyramid Rock.

There is also an entry point right at the tip of the point on the north side at S34°14'20.62" E018°28'39.38'. To get there go towards the tall rocks and skirt them to the left until you reach a series of Red-bait fringed rocks. These drop off directly into quite deep water, but are not an easy exit, specially at low tide.

The south access has more options for entry. The rocky little beach nearest the road is generally usable. Stay to the seaward side close in to the high ridge for exits (S34°14'22.43" E018°28'35.95). The gully to seaward of this ridge is deceptive and can be an unpleasant exit if a wave catches you as the surge can be strong.

You can use the large flat topped rock further to seaward at S34°14'22.84 E018°28'38.25" for entry and exit if it suits your dive plan. The top of this rock is almost black, and can be slippery when wet, however it is reasonably flat, and there is a convenient crack and ledge to help get back on if the tide is not too low.

All these shore access areas require walking over irregular rocks and boulders, some of which may be loose


(comment on facilities: Parking, ablution, security, picnic, other)


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Suggested Routes

  1. North Side: Use the north entry, swim out a few metres, descend and follow the coast toward the point in the kelp forest. As you approach the point, look out for the swim-through. Continue round the point and either return by the same route, or make your way through the gap between the point and the offshore rocks to the south.
  1. Pinnacles: This area is best dived in good conditions as the mood is then excellent. In autumn there are often large assemblies of fish, including schools of Roman, Bank Steenbras and Fransmadam. In winter, when the water is colder, there are fewer fish, but the whole area looks impressive in the better visibility.

Enter at the tip of the point on the north side. Descend and swim out to the north across the sand strip, then follow the edge of the sand to the west until you find the pinnacles. Return by compass or natural navigation to the gap and exit at the black rock.

  1. Point Reefs (Outside Castle):This is a vast area and there are no particular routes. Entry at the black rock, swim out through the gap and explore. Return to the entry point.
  1. South Side (Inner Castle): Concentrate on the boulders and reefs to the south of the point. The sandy bottom of the south cove can be interesting if there is not too much surge, which tends to pick up the fine sand and detritus and reduce the visibility. This area is where you may see sole and sand sharks, and near the boulders, snakelets, Platanna klipfish and Leprous platanna klipfish.
  1. Grand Tour: For the active swimmer, the rebreather diver, or the diver with large cylinders, it is possible to work your way through all these areas on a single dive, entering at the north entry and exiting at the rocky beach, or the reciprocal route.


Views of the site from the shore.

Castle Rocks seen from the roadside at the top of the path leading to the entry areas. The path is at the extreme left foreground of the photo.

The Southern part of Castle Rocks as seen from the road includes the group of large rocks in the middle right of the photo. The water inshore of these rocks is fairly sheltered and has a sandy bottom with scattered rock outcrops where the kelp is visible. This area is suitable for training exercises and night dives.

Castle Rocks seen from the parking area at Miller’s Point

The north entry at Castle Rocks is shown here. It is often convenient to use the sheltered area inshore of the long rounded rock in the middle of the picture, and to swim out round the left end of the rock. In the centre background is Boat Rock, or Bakoven Rock, and the top of Pyramid rock can just be seen closer inshore to the left, beyond the kelp. This entry point can be used for dives to Pyramid, and anywhere on the North side of Castle Rocks. The boat just visible on the extreme right is probably anchored at Outer Castle.

This view of the South side of Castle rocks shows the entry and exit point most popular on this side, which is right beside the large rock in the middle left of the photo.

View of the Point entry

View of the Black rock entry

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