PROTEA BANKS - Shelly Beach

Ask the world about SHARK diving and they will say SOUTH AFRICA ...
ask South Africans about SHARK diving and they will say ... PROTEA BANKS!!!!

Situated about 8km off Shelly Beach, on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast, PROTEA BANKS is a unique reef system, with an amazing topography. The presence of a great diversity of game fish attracts a wide variety of top predators seen in only a few places in the world!

PROTEA BANKS offers an exceptionally exciting SHARK dive. Divers have the opportunity to experience a SHARK dive that is completely unique. There are only a few places in the word that you can see such a wide variety of SHARK species and it is certainly not uncommon to see up to 5 different species of SHARKS on a single dive on PROTEA BANKS!!!

The BULL (ZAMBEZI) SHARK  and OCEANIC BLACKTIP SHARK are encountered throughout the year on PROTEA BANKS. In the warmer months HAMMERHEAD SHARKS are often seen overhead and we are not just talking one or two, we are talking hundreds ... yes, hundreds!! They make their appearance from September to January, with November and December being the months with the most regular sightings of HUGE schools of Scalloped HAMMERHEAD SHARKS. From January to June, one also has the added privilege of seeing the elusive TIGER SHARK. During colder months hundreds of RAGGED-TOOTH SHARKS congregate on PROTEA BANKS to mate. Dusky and Copper sharks also make an appearance on PROTEA BANKS.

Beside SHARKS, PROTEA BANKS also boasts a vast number of game fish such as Tuna, Barracuda, Kingfish, Tropical Amberjack, Bonito, Prodigal Son to name but a few. Friendly Potato Bass are often encountered and sometimes we are privileged to see Brindle Bass. A variety of Rays are also seen - GIANT SANDSHARKS, Round Ribbontail Rays, Eagle Rays and the occasional Manta Ray.

From June to November thousands of HUMPBACK WHALES migrate from the Southern Pole to the warmer waters of KwaZulu Natal, giving us an amazing show during our boat trips to and from PROTEA BANKS ... and yes ... we have had incredible underwater encounters with these magnificent WHALES!!! Dolphins are also a regular sighting throughout the year.

And with pristine reef, the PROTEA BANKS reef is alive with a wide variety of reef fish. These 'smallies' are unfortunately often overlooked, as once the SHARKS are spotted the reef is immediately forgotten ...

And then of course, with PROTEA BANKS just about anything can happen!!!! We have had rare sightings of Marlin, Sunfish, Whale shark, Blue shark, Mako shark, Spinner shark and the odd Great White shark. So if you are looking for an adventure and a dive site where just about anything can happen, PROTEA BANKS is the place to be.

On PROTEA BANKS we offer two completely different SHARK dives:

1. The first one is a BAITED SHARK DIVE. As we only go to 10m, this dive is suitable for an Open Water qualification and above. You need to be comfortable with the idea of SHARKS and have decent buoyancy (as this dive is done in mid water, with no reef as a reference). The BAITED SHARK DIVE is great for photography as the SHARKS come in very close.

2. The second is a reef SHARK dive. Our reefs lie between 30 to 40m. For this dive an Advanced certification is required or you can do it as an Adventures in Deep Dive with one of our Instructors. The current on PROTEA BANKS can be mild to very strong, on this drift dive. PROTEA BANKS it is also a multilevel dive, our average dive time is about 45 to 60 minutes. On this dive SHARKS are seen completely in their natural habitat with their natural behaviour. Sightings and be fleeting or you can get up close and personal with the SHARKS - it is nature so expect the unexpected ...

"I have personally been diving PROTEA BANKS for 20 years, and still get excited each and every time I go on a dive ... and very 'jealous' when I am not on the dive!"

Kym Pollard, Owner of Aqua Planet Dive Centre and Charter.




The Southern Pinnacles of PROTEA BANKS are dived mainly in the warmer months. This site is home to the BULL (ZAMBEZI) SHARK which brings a great deal of notoriety to this world-renowned dive location. Other SHARKS frequenting the Southern Pinnacles include HAMMERHEAD, OCEANIC BLACKTIP and Dusky SHARKS. For the fortunate few there is even the possibility of seeing TIGER SHARKS. GIANT SANDSHARKS are often seen on Sandshark Gully numbering up to about 50 at a time. A variety of Rays and Potato Bass are seen on a regular basis and game fish love to shoal on the Southern Pinnacles.


The Northern Pinnacles of PROTEA BANKS are dived mainly in the colder months. This site is where the RAGGED-TOOTH SHARKS come to mate. It allows divers to view 'Raggies' in close proximity on their annual migration route. The area consists of two 'cave' systems in which 'Raggies' congregate. At times it is impossible to see the mouth of the 'caves' as it is completely obscured by masses of RAGGED-TOOTH SHARKS. A variety of BULL (ZAMBEZI), OCEANIC BLACKTIP, TIGERHAMMERHEAD and Dusky SHARKS are also seen. There are also a few friendly Potato Bass that love to come and say Hi to the divers. The Northern Pinnacles can also be a very 'pretty' dive as it is rich in reef fish life.


Some of the marine life on PROTEA BANKS can be seen all year round, while others can only be enjoyed during certain months. We cannot guarantee specific SHARK sightings, but the chance of seeing a particular species is very high during these months:




 protea water temp


PROTEA BANKS is an absolutely incredible dive site. You cannot do a single dive on PROTEA BANKS and say that you have dived PROTEA BANKS.

PROTEA BANKS shows her true beauty to those divers that take their time out to explore her ...

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