Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Strawberry RocksDiving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : Strawberry Rocks
The dive site Strawberry Rocks is an inshore rocky reef in the North Oudekraal area on the Atlantic seaboard 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.
This is a pleasantly scenic site and there are usually several Cape fur seals to be seen, as well as colourful reef invertebrates.
Shore dive. Park at the side of the road on the outside of the bend north of the Twelve Apostles Hotel. The entry/exit point is Sandy Cove. This gives the most direct route to the site which is the pair of smaller boulders to the North East of the group of large granite boulders (Geldkis) about 300m from the entry point.
Boat Dive: May be from Hout Bay (16km) or Oceana Power Boat Club (13.5km). The sand to the north may be suitable for anchoring.
S33°58.725’ E018°21.658’ (approximate)
Strawberry Rocks are the two smaller groups of granite boulders to the north east of the large Geldkis group.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009). A permit is required.
Derivation of the name "Strawberry Rocks" is not recorded, but it is likely a reference to the large areas of Strawberry anemones Corynactis annulata which can be seen here.
The bottom is generally from about 10m to a maximum of about 15m,
Besides the large rocks which break the surface, there are numerous lower submerged boulders around the exposed ones. Many of the boulders are situated that there are overhangs, swim-throughs and caves under them, and there are also some deep narrow gaps between rocks. Surge can be strong.
Spectacular in good visibility. Bottom is sand between the main rock group and shore, with occasional rocks closer inshore, and scattered boulders near the group, often with tall clumps of kelp. There is a very nice little A-section cave with chimneys at position S33°58.717’ E018°21.665’, It is well protected from low swell, but may be too surgey on a rough day.
Geology: Granite corestones of the late Pre-Cambrian Peninsula pluton, surrounded by fine white quartz sand.
The site is often at it's best during or after south easterly winds, but strong south easterly winds (offshore) can make it difficult to swim back to shore at the surface. It is exposed to south westerly swells, and surge can be strong, particularly in the swimthroughs.
The site is usually at it's best in summer, but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter.
This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by south easterly winds, resulting inclear cold water, which may develop an algal bloom after a few days, which will reduce the visibility.
Keep a lookout for times when the south west swell is low and short period, and the south easterly winds have just stopped, for a good probability of good diving conditions.
None. Security is no better than most other roadside parking areas.
Seals often hang out on the rocks and drop by to investigate during the dive. Kelp forests grow on top of the shallower rocks. Walls exposed to the SW and NW swells are relatively bare compared to overhangs, caves and sheltered areas, some of which are very colourful and heavily encrusted with sponges and small sea fans.
More exposed areas have a lot of red bait and black mussel, There is a large variety of organisms in the caves including knob ascidians, lobed ascidians, white ball sponges and sea fans, hard corals and various encrusting and fan sponges
A good site for macro photography, or wide angle if the visibility is good.
There are two basic routes depending on whether the dive is from shore or a boat.
- For a shore dive, enter at Sandy Cove, and swim out on the surface to the north east of Strawberry Rocks. Dive around the group anticlockwise to the seaward side to the cave under the rocks, then further round west to the gap at Geldkis and back to Sandy Cove on a compass course. Alternatively continue the dive to include Geldkis if air supply and temperature allow, then return from the east end of Geldkis.
- For a boat dive, start in much the same place and follow a similar route round the site, It is not recommended to leave a boat at anchor unattended because of the possibility of strong winds causing it to drag and be blown away out to sea.
Cold water, Hot sunshine. Strong surge in gulleys and swim-throughs. Sea urchins. Strong offshore winds may develop over a short time.
No special skills are required for a boat dive, For a shore dive a fair level of fitness is required as there is a long swim to and from the site. Ability to navigate back by compass is recommended, particularly if there is offshore wind forecast.
A light is recommended for looking into crevices and overhangs, and because of the loss of colour at depth. A compass is strongly recommended for shore dives and the return should be done underwater if the wind picks up during the dive. The water is cold and a dry suit will help if you chill easily.
View toward Strawberry Rocks from the entry point at Sandy Cove. The rocks are the two small groups in the middle background.
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