Sardine Run

The Sardine Run is one of those experiences that every scuba diver should do at least once in a lifetime.

Why you should choose this itinerary?

  • The variety of wildlife you will encounter in this trip is unbelievable! Eight different kinds of sharks, countless dolphins, whales, birds, enormous potato-basses (groupers), and much much more.
  • What you need to know

    • Location: South Africa
    • Period: End June / beginning July
    • Duration: Between 1 and 2 weeks

    Sardine Run with African Sharks & Seafari

    The Sardine Run is the legendary South African sardine migration that occurs once a year, between June and July, along the wild coast. Famous to all divers and nature passionate and second to none in terms of biomass. The migration of billions of sardines is creating a feeding frenzy for whales, sharks, dolphins and hundreds of other predators. This trip is a one-in-a-lifetime experience!

    Together with the Sardine Run, you’ll be diving with all sort of sharks, from blacktip to bull sharks to the tiger and the great white. You’ll experience what it means to swim with whales and what it looks like when birds dive into the water.

    Day to day program

    Day 1 (28th of June)

    • Arrival
    • Arrival in Durban, pick up and accommodation in Umkomaas, at Agulhas House.

    The city of Umkumaas, South Africa The city of Durban, South Africa Another view of Umkomaas

    Umkomaas is a small coastal town located 48 km south of central Durban on the subtropical south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, beside the mouth of the navigable Mkhomazi River. A large number of whales once used the estuary as a nursery, giving birth in the shallows. The Zulus named the river after this spectacle (Umkhomazi means the place of cow whales).

    Occasionally, raft races, canoeing, and other sporting events are held on the river. The river is a popular white-water rafting destination. Umkomaas’ official animal is the Whale. Other wildlife seen in the area include many snakes, most of them harmless varieties like the Red-Lipped Herald and the Brown House Snake. Monkeys here are less common than in Scottburgh, but the birdlife is abundant, with the gregarious and friendly Hadeda Ibis a regular sight. Small wild cats like the Genet and Civet have also been reported, though only on very rare occasions. The crocodiles found near Freeland Park and the lower Amahlongwa, 8 kilometres south, are not present in Umkomaas. Duiker abound and can be seen in Empisini. The much larger and very beautiful Bushbuck is also seen in the vicinity.

    Days 2-3 and 4 (29th and 30th of June and 1st of July)

    • Early morning – Baited Dive (Tiger Shark – Oceanic Black Tip)
    • Second Dive – Aliwal Shoal (Sand Tiger A.K.A. Ragged Tooth Shark)
    • Accommodation at Agulhas House

    Shark dive in South Africa Reef dive in South Africa grouper-1

    The Aliwal Shoal coral reef was formed about 80,000 years ago. Is most renowned for the superb shark diving opportunities created by the Shoal, at about 5 kilometres offshore.

    The local port in Umkomaas is made from the Mkhomazi river, these offers a comfortable environment to load the scuba gears and jump on the 7,5 meter rubber boats that will take us diving.

    The adrenaline starts right in the morning when we “launch” from the river, into the big waves and out at sea.

    Aliwal Shoal is just 15 minutes aways and this is the place where we do the two daily dives.

    First dive is the so called “baited dive” where, after baiting for about 1 hour, we dive with up to 20 to 30 blacktip sharks and, if we’re lucky, one or two tiger sharks.

    The second dive is on one of the most attractive reef dives like "Cathedral" or "Raggies Cave", home to the Ragged Tooth Sharks and a number of other species that can be found in the Shoal!

    Day 5 (2nd of July)

    • Early morning transfer to Shelly Beach
    • Baited Dive (Bull Shark – Hammer Head)
    • Second Dive – Protea Banks
    • Accommodation at Agulhas House

    blacktip-oceanic-shark-8 Diving with blacktip oceanic sharks blacktip-oceanic-shark-3

    Protea Banks is the second main popular attraction for shark diving in South Africa. The situation here is quite similar to Aliwal Shoal. We have the same type of speedboat but we launch directly from the sea front.

    The first dive usually is a baited dive. We will see blacktip sharks and we will have great chances to see bull sharks, dusky sharks and hammerheads.

    We then go back and rest for breakfast on the restaurant terrace overlooking the ocean and we get ready for the second dive on the reef.

    Drifting into the blue and spotting ragged tooth sharks, bull sharks and much more.

    Day 6 (3rd of July)

    • Early morning transfer to Shelly Beach
    • Baited Dive (Bull Shark – Hammer Head)
    • Second Dive – Protea Banks
    • Transfer to Port St. Johns
    • Accommodation at ‘Ntaba River Lodge

    blacktip-oceanic-shark-2 blacktip-oceanic-shark-10 A bull shark in South Africa

    From Protea Banks it takes around 4 hours to reach Port St. Johns, this is the trip where you can take some great pictures of the beautiful landscape that South Africa offers. We will pass through tiny villages where you can see how people live outside the big cities.

    Days 7 to 11 (4th to 8th of July)

    • "Seafari" & Sardine Run Action!!!
    • Accommodation at ‘Ntaba River Lodge

    A humpback whale at the Sardine Run A humpback whale breaching at the Sardine Run Dolphins jumping at the sardine run

    Port St. Johns is situated on the Wild Coast, a coastline of about 270 km long, boasting some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country. It lies at the mouth of the Mzimvubu River, the local harbours that we will use to launch our rubber boats and that will take us in the wild water of the Indian Ocean. On both sides of the river ravine are high sandstone mountain peaks: Mount Thesiger (342 meter above sea level) and Mount Sullivan (304 meter), named after two British Military officers.

    We start our more sought after part of the trip: the Sardine Run. A major spectacle occurring almost every year: the fabled Sardine Run, the annual courtship migration of sardines from the Wild Coast to the warmer waters of KwaZulu-Natal. Usually occurring between end of June and beginning of July, it is a spectacular sight and the sardines lure a large variety of predatory fish, seabirds, and sharks, on a scale rarely seen anywhere else on Earth.

    • 18,000+ dolphins: common dolphin and bottlenose dolphin.
    • Thousands of sharks: bronze whaler, dusky shark, grey nurse shark, oceanic blacktip shark, spinner shark and zambezi bullshark.
    • Thousands of game fish: blue fish, king mackerel, various kingfish species, garrick, geelbek and eastern little tuna.
    • Thousands of birds: cape gannet, albatros, cormorants, terns and gulls.
    • Hundreds of whales: mainly humpback whales but occasionally also southern right whales.

    Always for the sake of obtaining the perfect bait ball: this is the work of all the predators together, with the dolphins as main coordinators, creating the so called “bait balls”. These bait balls are formed by thousands of sardines and can be 10–20 metres in diameter and extend to a depth of 10 metres. All the predators are hunting together into these bait-balls which don’t last long; in the order of no more than 10 minutes hunt and prey are over. This is the highlight attraction of the sardine run.

    Day 12 (9th of July)

    • For those that desire to continue the trip to Cape Town, the transfer leads to Durban Airport
    • Flight from Durban to Cape Town
    • Pick up at Cape Town International Airport and transfer to Simon’s Town
    • Accommodation at Quayside Hotel


    • Transfer to Durban for those that end the trip with us. According to the international flight departure time, there will be the opportunity of visiting the “uShaka Marine Park” or the seafront in Durban

    An alligator The marine world uShaka marine park

    uShaka Marine World, Durban is located in the centre of uShaka Marine World you can experience the salt water aquarium with indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits, a 1,200 seater dolphin stadium where you’ll be entertained by the world-famous Dolphins, the seal stadium and penguin rookery. In addition, Sea World offers edutainment tours behind the scenes and special interactive activities such as snorkelling through reefs and grottos and scuba dives. Durban is famous for its beaches and that’s exactly what you’ll find at uShaka Marine world. Bell’s Beach, adjacent to uShaka Marine World, has been set aside for adventure seekers and offers perfect all-year non-stop fun. Activities include windsurfing, beach volleyball, and beach rugby, surfing, jet skiing, kite surfing, paddle boat rides, dolphin viewing charters and national and international beach sports events.

    Day 13 (10th of July)

    • Early morning Cage Dive Charter (Great White) (approx. 5hrs)
    • Afternoon Cow Shark Dive
    • Accommodation at Quayside Hotel

    Cage diving with the great white h-scuba-diving-south-africa Seven gills cow shark

    Great White Shark cage diving is one of the “must do’s” for anyone visiting Cape Town. Is an amazing way to experience being with the great white shark. We love it when you start the trip a bit fearful and then leave, saying “wow, those sharks are amazing”. Its great to be able to educate and change negative perceptions into positive ones.

    The Seals Island, in False bay, is one of the best places in the world to dive with the Great White. In the early morning you can easily see him when jumping out of the water to try catching one of the seals and later on, when we put the cage underwater, finally here is the vis-à-vis experience that you’re looking for.

    Day 14 (11th of July)

    • Early morning Cage Dive Charter (Great White) (approx. 5hrs)
    • Afternoon tour to Boulders beach, Cape Point and wine tasting in the Stellenbosch
    • Gala Dinner and farewells…
    • Accommodation at Quayside Hotel

    A great white shark underwater A seal in False Bay, South Africa Penguins in Boulders Beach

    At the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, a nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park; a declared Natural World Heritage Site. Encompassing 7 750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna; abounding with buck, baboons and Cape Mountain Zebra as well as over 250 species of birds, Cape Point is a nature enthusiast paradise. Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres above the sea and cutting deep into the ocean provide a spectacular background for the Parks’ rich bio-diversity. Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park. The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The park forms part of the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site. It includes the majestic Table Mountain chain, which stretches from Signal Hill to Cape Point, and the coastlines of the Cape Peninsula.

    Day 15 (12th of July)

    • Transfer to Cape Town International Airport for Departure
    • End of the “African Sharks & Seafari” experience

    Sardine Run photo gallery & video

    . ">v-sardine-run-2010


    María José and Jose Antonio
    "Every diver in the world survives during the hard working days dreaming about the blue seas of his next dive trip. The Sardine Run was one of our “dream dive trips”. Luca and Sandro had a quite difficult goal; make o... [read on]" María José and Jose Antonio Spain / Executive Producers
    Bernard and Anett
    "Many thanks to Luca and Sandro for organizing our South African 2014 dive trip. While the sardines did not show up this year, the combination of dives and experiences planned by our guides will leave us great long las... [read on]" Bernard and Anett Singapore / Managers
    Andres Venegas
    "A massive thank you to the Élite Diving Agency! From beginning to end, our trip was filled with endless opportunities to enjoy the exhilarating natural beauty of South Africa’s coasts and the rich variety of wildli... [read on]" Andres Venegas United Arab Emirates / Entrepreneur
    Joanna Van Vliet
    "I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and for me once in a life time experience. The trip was well organised and you were able to quickly solve issues and/or problems when they occurred. In my view the composition of the grou... [read on]" Joanna Van Vliet Netherlands / Ambassador

    Holiday details

    EDA Notes

    • This trip is open to qualified and expert divers. Dive certification level of advanced diver is required and must be shown upon arrival and prior to any ocean activity taking place.
    • Sea condition may be occasionally challenging and variable as this is an Ocean related experience.
    • Full range of equipment may be rented, prior to booking it in advance upon trip subscription. (semi-dry or 7mm wetsuit is recommended)
    • Enriched Air Nitrox tanks will be provided to EANx Certified Divers for the reef dives (not for baited dives, Sardine Run and cage dives).
    • If you are NOT an EANx Certified Diver, you can subscribe to the course and the EDA Team will issue the international PADI certification on the spot.
    • Élite Diving Agency™ can provide, upon request, the flights to and from Durban “King Shaka” International Airport or from Cape Town International Airport.
    • A minimum of 6 guest are requested for the trip to happen.
    • What to bring on the boat each day: Waterproof bag (limited spaces recommend something fairly small) for: hat, sunglasses, sun lotion, waterproof jacket, camera, video equipment, binoculars.
    • Travel insurance is highly recommended for all guests and should be prearranged in the country of origin.
    • Diving insurance is mandatory for all guests. If not already subscribed, EDA will provide a DAN Europe Insurance policy for the validity of 12 months at the cost of € 89,90.

    Prices includes


    • Accommodation (in Double/Sharing room)
    • Full Board
    • Dives stated in the program
    • All internal transfers (see detail below)
    • EDA Team present in and out of the water at all times


    • From Durban “King Shaka” International Airport to Umkomaas (approx. 30 min)
    • From Umkomaas to Shelly Beach and back (approx. 50 min)
    • From Umkomaas to Shelly Beach (approx. 50 min) and from Shelly Beach to Port St. John (approx. 3 hrs 30 min)
    • From Port St. John to Durban (approx. 4 hrs 15 min)
    • Flight from Durban to Cape Town (approx. 2 hrs 15 min)
    • From Cape Town to Simon’s Town (approx. 50 min)
    • From Simon’s Town to Cape Town International Airport (approx. 50 min)


    • 3 Baited Dives and 3 Reef Dives in Aliwal Shoal (Umkomaas) (All Reef Dives on EANx)
    • 2 Baited Dives and 2 Reef Dives in Protea Banks (Shelly Beach) (All Reef Dives on EANx)
    • 5 Days Sardine Run in Port St. Johns (Snorkelling and Scuba)
    • 2 Cage Diving Charter (5 hrs each)
    • 1 Cow Shark Dive
    • 1 Cape Point Tour
    • Entrance fee to the uShaka Sea World (Largest aquarium in the Southern hemisphere) and Dangerous Creatures (reptile exhibit) in Durban


    • 5 nights in Umkomaas – Bed & Breakfast basis
    • 6 nights in Port St. Johns – Half Board basis
    • 3 nights in Simon’s Town – Bed & Breakfast basis
    • (other meals will be served in a variety of different restaurants)


    • Élite Diving Agency™ Team present during all activities, in and out of the water!
    • Wine Tasting experience in the Stellenbosch area of Cape Town
    • “Gala Dinner” at the end of the Sardine Run 2016 Experience!

    Prices don’t include

    • Single room supplement
    • Drinks
    • Extra dives not listed
    • Equipment rental
    • International Flights to and from South Africa:
    • Flight to and from Durban “King Shaka” International Airport
    • Flight from Cape Town International Airport
    • Enriched Air “Nitrox” PADI Certification
    • DAN Europe diving insurance
    • Travel Insurance
    • All what is not listed in “The Price Includes”

    Sardine Run booking options

    Option 1

    • 14 Days - From the 28th of June to the 12th of July
    • 5 days Baited and Reef dives (10 dives)
    • 5 days Sardine Run
    • 2 days Cage Diving
    • Departure from Cape Town

    Price € 6,050.00

    Single Supplement: 20%

    Option 2

    • 11 Days - From the 28th of June to the 9th of July
    • 5 days Baited and Reef dives (10 dives)
    • 5 days Sardine Run
    • Departure from Durban

    Price € 5,150.00

    Single Supplement: 20%

    Option 3

    • 11 Days - From the 1st to the 12th of July
    • 3 days Baited and Reef dives (6 dives)
    • 5 days Sardine Run
    • 2 days Cage Diving
    • Departure from Cape Town

    Price € 5.450,00

    Single Supplement: 20%

    Option 4

    • 7 days - From the 2nd to the 9th of July
    • 1 day Baited and Reef dives (2 dives)
    • 5 days Sardine Run
    • Departure from Durban

    Price € 3,850.00

    Single Supplement: 20%

    Request more info on the Sardine Run holiday

      Holiday dates

      Departure: 28/06/2016
      Return: 12/07/2016

      Submit this enquiry form to check availability and to obtain more info. Let’s make your dreams come true!