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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Klein Tafelberg

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

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The dive site Klein 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.


This can be a spectacular dive and there is a wide range of colourful invertebrates to be seen.


S34°04.442’ E018°19.191’ (Klein Tafelberg pinnacle)

S34°04.443’ E018°19.178’ (Table Top pinnacle)

S34°04.454’ E018°19.232’ (42m sand patch)

A group of pinnacles at the south eastern end of Tafelberg Reef

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


The name "Klein Tafelberg Reef" translates to Small Table Mountain Reef, it is a part of Tafelberg Reef slightly separate from the main reef. The alternative names "Salad Bowl" and "Yacht Wreck" refer to the large variety of colouful reef life on the rocks of the bowl shaped hollow in the side if the reef, and the wreck of the yacht that lies in it.


Maximum about is about 42m, and the top of the pinnacle about 14m. The Table Top pinnacle a short distance to the west is at 15m and is much larger.


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.

[[Image:Divers at Klein Tafelberg reef PC083333.JPG|thumb|Divers on Klein Tafelberg reef

Divers over the pinnacle at Klein Tafelberg reef
The edge of the reef at 42m depth to the east of the pinnacle


The site is a huge granite outcrop with big boulders and patches of sand bottom in the deeper areas. The relief is very rugged and fairly spectacular in good visibility.

There are the remains of a small yacht on a ledge called the salad bowl part way down the north side of the pinnacle, and below that there are other outcrops to the north.

A short distance to the west, and visible in good conditions, is a larger flat topped pinnacle at about 15m depth known as the table top as it is roughly square and flat on top with sheer sides. This pinnacle is about 21m long and 17m wide, and is split by a huge crack about 2m wide into two unequal sections. The dropoff to the north east is much deeper than to the south west.

About 80m to the south east of the pinnacle there is a sand patch at 42m depth, and to the north the sand is at about 36m

Geology: Granite of the late Pre-Cambrian Cape 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

The site is only accessible by boat. It is about 4.5km from Hout Bay Harbour.


Colonial ascidian
Dreadlocks hydroid
Noble coral
Reef scene at Klein Tafelberg
Silvertip nudibranchs
Spiky nudibranchs

Marine life

Lots of great invertebrates on reefs, also seals, kelp, and some hottentot.


Wreck of yacht just north of pinnacle.


Good site for macro and wide angle photography.


Descend on shotline to the reef, swim down to the wreck of the yacht, continue to desired depth, then work your way up the rocks to the top of the pinnacle and deploy your DSMB.

Stay safe


Cold water, Nitrogen narcosis in the deeper areas. Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.


No special skills are required, but appropriate certification for the depth is expected.


It is cold and relatively 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 compass will help keep you orientated, a light will restore colour and allow you to look into crevices and overhangs, and a reel with DSMB is worth carrying in case you need to surface away from the shot line.

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