Sardine Run – Dive into the chaos of South Africa!

The Sardine Run is a unique spectacle, where you are surrounded by millions of sardines off the coast of Port St. Johns, South Africa. Diving in this spectacular, dynamic environment with dolphins, sharks, whales, and seabirds feels like you’ve stepped into a David Attenborough nature documentary. This diving vacation in South Africa includes diving at of Aliwal Shoal, one of the top 10 dive sites worldwide.
Travel period
June, July
Starting at
9 days from €3025,- p.p

Go on Sardine Run in South Africa

Discover the magic of the Sardine Run on a unique trip to South Africa. The Sardine Run, a natural spectacle that takes place every year, is a phenomenon in which millions of sardines swim in huge schools along the east coast of South Africa. This event attracts an abundance of marine life, including dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales and seals, creating fantastic chaos.

Your diving adventure begins with two dives at Aliwal Shoal, this is nice to test your equipment and familiarize yourself, before getting into the crowds. Diving at Aliwal Shoal is no punishment anyway, as this location is often named in the top 10 best diving destinations.

After you are fully rested and have tested your diving gear, it is time to travel on to St. Johns. From here you will go out to sea for five days to experience the Sardine Run up close. During these days at sea, beginning at sunrise, you find yourself in the middle of the action. Whether snorkeling or diving, you will be surrounded by many different marine life and possibly even see whales up close.

Best travel period for the Sardine Run in South Africa

The Sardine Run takes place annually in June and July. The rest of the year, though, you can dive with sharks in South Africa at Aliwal Shoal.

Snorkelers beware! This trip can also be done very well as a non-diver, because during the Sardine Run you will mainly be snorkeling (due to fast moving baitballs). So you don’t dive, but you snorkel? Then this one is also for you! Ask us about the (reduced) price for snorkelers.

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Average Temperatures

Wetsuit advice for diving in South Africa

Between November and May, 5mm is sufficient for most divers. For the other months, a 7mm can even be considered. The Sardine Run can also be done in a 5mm, which gives more freedom of movement, but a 7mm is warmer.

What will you experience on this diving vacation in South Africa?

View itinerary here

Day 1 & 2 - Arrival in Durban

This diving vacation begins with a flight from Europe to Durban. The flight likely includes a short layover at Johannesburg, in the Middle East or Turkey. Total travel time will be between approximately 13 & 17 hours. On day 2, you land at Durban International Airport. At Durban airport you will be picked up and taken to the Blue Ocean Dive Resort in Umkomaas, about 80 kilometers south of the airport and close to the coast.

Upon arrival at the resort, you will be checked into your room. The rest of the day is devoted to relaxation. You can take a walk on the beach or relax by the pool. In the late afternoon you will receive a comprehensive briefing on shark diving at Aliwal Shoal, a preview for tomorrow.

Day 3 - Diving at Aliwal Shoal

Today your diving vacation really begins and you will dive at Aliwal Shoal, one of Jacques Cousteau’s top 10 dive sites worldwide. Surely this breathtaking place is most famous for its many sharks – and rightly so. At Aliwal Shoal you can spot sharks year-round, from Ragged Tooth Sharks in their mating season to impressive Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks and imposing Bull Sharks. In June & July , in terms of big stuff, you have a chance of mainly: humpback whales, ragged tooth sharks (sand tiger sharks) and Oceanic Black Tip sharks. The remaining sharks are mostly seen just in the winter. So you’ll have to go back again to tick them all off….

Day 4 - Transfer to Port St. Johns

After a leisurely breakfast and packing your gear and diving equipment, your journey begins in Port St. Johns, a scenic drive of about four hours. Upon arrival, check into your accommodation, Cremorne Estate, on the banks of the Umzimvubu River. This comfortable lodge offers beautiful views of the river and features en-suite facilities. At the restaurant and bar, you can enjoy delicious meals and drinks while chatting with the dive team about the Sardine Run.

Day 5 through 9 - Sardine Run

The next five days are all about the Sardine Run, an unforgettable ocean safari. Each morning begins with updates on the movements of the sardines, then you launch the boats around 7 a.m. for an action-packed day at sea. These days are chaotic, fantastic, special…. there is really no way to describe how special it is to come face to face with so many different marine life, including birds, dolphins, game fish, whales, sharks and, of course, millions of sardines.

Depending on the speed of the action and the comfort of the animals, you will enter the water several times a day, sometimes snorkeling and other times diving. The period when the sardine run takes place also coincides with the migration of humpback whales, making for even more spectacular encounters.

After a day of adventure, you will return to the coast in the late afternoon. Here you can enjoy local excursions, relax at the bar or explore the area. In the evening, a delicious meal awaits at the restaurant. You will also spend these days at Cremorne Estate.

Day 10 - On safari, to Mozambique or home?

Today, unfortunately, is already the end of your unforgettable Sardine Run trip in South Africa. After a final breakfast at Cremorne Estate, depart for Durban International Airport at 8 am. But here you face a choice: do you return home, or extend your adventure?

At EWDR, we can offer a variety of customized safaris. Perhaps you choose to stay in South Africa and search for the Big 5 on a safari. Or maybe you feel more like a peaceful conclusion to your diving trip by traveling on to Tofo in Mozambique, where you can still make your most beautiful dives!

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The accommodation

The stay and surroundings

Blue Ocean Dive Lodge

The first two nights of this trip you will stay at the Blue Ocean Dive Lodge. The resort is beautifully situated overlooking the Indian Ocean and the Umkomaas Golf Course, and features a fully licensed ocean-view restaurant and bar, and of course a dive center. The historic 1934 building combines comfort and convenience.

With space for large groups of up to 24 (expandable to 32 with an additional boat) and a dive lodge that can accommodate up to 54 guests, they are perfectly equipped for any diver or dive association.

Cremore Estate

From Day 4 to Day 10, Cremorne Estate is your home base, a comfortable Wild Coast accommodation nestled on the banks of a river. Perfect to depart from daily for the Sardine Run.

Cremore Estate features an outdoor pool, a garden, a shared lounge and a terrace in Port St Johns. Each room has river views, and guests can enjoy a restaurant and bar. Rooms feature a patio with lake views and free Wi-Fi.

The hotel rooms also feature a closet, a TV, a private bathroom, linens, towels and a balcony with mountain views. Rooms have a kettle, and some rooms have a kitchenette with refrigerator, oven and microwave. Each room at Cremorne Estate has a sitting area.

Guests can enjoy a full English/Irish breakfast in the morning. The resort also offers a playground for children. You can play darts at the hotel, and the area is popular for hiking and fishing, so your stay will be both relaxing and adventurous.

Travel costs

What is included

This trip is available from €3025 per person based on two people in one room. The diving trip can be expanded as desired. A number of things are included by default in this travel package.

Prices are subject to price changes, increases or changing exchange rates. Flights are always based on the cheapest possible booking class.

Want to know more about the Sardine Run in South Africa? Get in touch with us! 

Included in this diving trip, from €3025, - p.p.

* During Sardine Run, it is common for baitballs to move quickly. Therefore, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to go into the water in full scuba gear and snorkeling is chosen so you don’t miss any of the action.


Email this Sardine Run diving vacation

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Frequently asked questions about the Sardine Run

Sardine Run general

During the Sardine Run, you will primarily snorkel from the boat (zodiac). This is because the baitballs can move at lightning speed. Should a stable baitball arrive, you can also dive. We always bring tanks & scuba gear in case this opportunity arises.

During the Sardine Run, you go from baitball to baitball. So you are at sea all day.

For the Sardine Run, this is hard to say – it depends on whether there are stable baitballs.

Diving equipment

The tanks are DIN tanks, but there are inserts to make them INT.

Yes, by request.

You can only dive with Nitrox at Aliwal Shoal. This is free for certified Nitrox divers.

BCD & Regulator are €140,- p.p. for this trip and you can extend this with mask, snorkel and fins for a total of €210,- p.p.

Activities, Excursions and Wellness

During the sardine run you can do some fantastic snorkeling! Therefore, this trip is ideally suited for snorkelers.

Yes definitely! We work with several partners in South Africa and can offer customized safari tours. While you’re there….

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