Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Two Oceans Aquarium
The dive site Two Oceans Aquariumis an inland confined water site in the V&A Waterfront area of the City Bowl, in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
The aquarium provides the opportunity for diving in a controlled environment where you are guaranteed to see a large number of a variety of large fish.
- : S33°54.476’ E018°25.074’
Port Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town harbour.
This site is not in a Marine Protected Area. A permit is not required.
NameThe name "Two Oceans Aquarium" refers to the two oceans on the coast of South Africa, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which technically meet at Cape Agulhas.
DepthI&J Ocean Exhibit 6 m, Kelp Forest 6 m, Predator Exhibit 5.2 m
VisibilityVisibility is good. Expect to see across the tank.
TopographyThe I&J Ocean Exhibit is an approximately 1,7 million litre tank. It is rectangular, approximately 20m long and 15m wide. The bottom of the exhibit is covered with coarse white sand that does not disturb easily and does not affect visibility near the bottom. The back of the tank is made of artificial rockwork which provides hiding spaces for small fish species. The front of the tank has a large viewing panel that allows aquarium visitors to see into the exhibit, and allows divers to see out. There is also a viewing tunnel that runs across the bottom of the tank that allows divers to interact with people who might be viewing the dive from outside.
The Predator Exhibit is a large oval tank with an oval central partition which is used to isolate fish when required. This part (the “Doughnut”) is not dived by visitors, who stay in the outer ring. There are large windows, almost full height on one side, through which you can observe the visitors if you get bored with the fish. The central partition and part of the bottom is covered by artificial rock face, and the rest of the bottom is covered in small white gravel on one side and coarse dark stone chips on the other side.
The Kelp Forest is roughly square, with a large bay window cutting a diagonal across one corner. It is panelled with artificial rock faces and includes reefs and a cave of similar material. Part of the bottom is covered by fine white gravel, and the rest by small loose rocks and stones, and an assortment of artefacts.
ConditionsA site where conditions can be guaranteed all year round. Visibility is always good, and water temperature is consistent, though it does vary slightly with the seasons. The I&J Ocean Exhibit is kept at 21°C year-round, the Predator Exhibit is likely to be about 21°C in summer, and 19°C in winter, while the Kelp tank will be about 18°C in summer and 15°C in winter. There is a slight clockwise current in the Predator Exhibit, and a surge created by a wave machine in the Kelp Forest. Neither of these is a problem.
FacilitiesParking: The most convenient parking for the Two Oceans Aquarium is in Portswood Square which is opposite the Aquarium in Port Road. An hourly parking fee is charged, which is additional to Aquarium charges.
Ablution: The diving area has showers and toilet facilities of good standards, including indoor hot water showers.
Equipment: All needed equipment is provided as part of the diving packages.
Other attractions: The rest of the aquarium is also well worth visiting, and there are kiosks and restaurants within easy walking distance.
Booking is essential.
Dive Deskphone: +27-21-418-3823Contact Dive Desk to arrange bookings.
From the Airport: Take the N2 South to Cape Town - , stay in the right hand lanes for Eastern Boulevard. and stay on the freeway as far as it goes.
Turn right into the V&A Waterfront at the first traffic lights.
Take the first left at the first traffic circle (Port road), and straight through at the second circle.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is on the right hand side. It is a large red brick building.
Park at Portswood Square which is opposite the Aquarium in Port Road. An hourly parking fee is charged.
From Cape Town Railway Station:
Take the Waterfront Bus/taxi which leaves from outside Texies Fisheries in Adderley Street to the V&A Waterfront. The bus/taxi will stop outside the Aquarium.
Meet the divemaster as previously arranged. There are stairs to climb for three floors, but if you bring your own equipment there is a goods lift available. Entry to the tanks is from the roof area, as these tanks are open to the sky. There are stairs and ladders provided to the dive platforms just above the water. Climbing out onto the platforms requires reasonable agility as there are no ladders into the water
Marine lifeI&J Ocean Exhibit: The Ocean Exhibit has a wide variety of tropical and sub-tropical fish species including giant short-tail stingrays, honeycomb rays, seventy-fours, moonies, brindle bass, eagle rays, giant guitarfish, yellowbelly rockcod, convict surgeonfish and many others. The tank is also inhabited by sea turtles from the aquarium's rehabilitation programme, usually large green turtles and loggerhead turtles.
Predator Exhibit: The Predator Exhibit has ragged-tooth sharks and a range of large predatory fish from local waters such as giant kob, rockcods and Cape yellowtail. Numerous schools of small fish such as mullet and strepie also inhabit this exhibit.
Kelp Forest: Two types of kelp found in Cape Town waters. The local species of fish in this tank are big, abundant, and not shy of divers.
There is not a great deal of scope for photography other than of fish, but this is compensated by the ease of finding and photographing the fish. The background is not usually interesting or particularly attractive, so lens and strobe combinations which allow you to fill the frame with the subject and minimise the background detail will work well. The lighting is generally good, due to filtering and shallow depth.
Due to the presence of many viewing windows and tunnels, it is also possible to non-diving companions to take photos of the divers from outside the water, or to pose for a photo at the panel with the diver.
RoutesNo specific route recommended - each tank is small enough to explore comprehensively during a single dive. You will be expected to follow the divemaster.
HazardsYou are diving with wild animals, which are not domesticated or tamed, despite the setting. Fish and turtles are hand-fed by aquarium staff, and hand gestures towards can be mistaken as an attempt to feed them. For this reason, and to protect the health of the animals, there is a strict "no touch" policy except where permission is granted by the aquarium's dive leader.
The risk in all exhibits, including the Predator Exhibit, is considered low except for the potential rare hand injuries mentioned above. You will be required to sign a waiver and follow the instructions of the dive leader.
SkillsUncertified visitors can participate in a short Discover Scuba short course taught by an experienced on-site instructor. This course takes a few hours and will allow the visitor to dive in the I&J Ocean Exhibit under the supervision of the instructor.
A diving certification is needed for all other dive offerings at the aquarium.
Divers with a commercial qualification can join the Aquarium as a volunteer diver and help with cleaning the windows and other routine maintenance.