Being just over 400 km north of Durban on the eastern coast of South Africa, and off the beaten track, Sodwana Bay was left somewhat unexplored until the late 1940s. Recognising its rich diversity in flora and fauna both along the coastline and beneath the waves, the Natal Parks Board proclaimed Sodwana Bay a Nature Reserve in 1950.

Today, Sodwana Bay forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage site and South Africa’s largest marine protected area (MPA).

The iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area provides safe nesting grounds for endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles and its submarine canyons are home to the incredibly rare coelacanth, a fish that has been around since the time of dinosaurs.

Sodwana Bay is a year-round diving destination and the best way to get there is to fly to King Shaka airport in Durban and hire a car or arrange a transfer through the resort you will be staying with. A five-hour drive along the main highway will take you through lush green scenery of sugar cane fields, blue gum forests and pineapple plantations. Once off the main highway you might see giraffe, zebras, wart-hogs and other small animals that can be found in the many game reserves that border the road. The trip is made even more exciting as herds of cattle grazing along the roadside seem to take an innate pleasure in crossing the road just as you reach them.

This is Africa!