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Sardine Run

The Wild Coast in the Transkei region of South Africa certainly lives up to its name. The back drop for countless underwater documentaries and location of the epic sardine run... The Greatest Shoal on Earth! You've seen it on TV… now you can join the action with Africa Diver!

The phenomena known as the sardine run is not fully understood but the mass movement Sardinops sagax along the east coast of South Africa whips people and predators into a frenzy! The sardines exploit a narrow band of cool water which is trapped against the coastline by the warm Agulhas current. The shoal can be so tightly packed that the sea turns black!

The sardines are closely followed by literally thousands of common dolphins, dusky sharks, copper sharks, black tips, ragged tooth sharks, tiger sharks and, if you are lucky, Brydes whales. The battalions of Cape gannets that descend from the air are truly breath taking and the humpback whales, which are migrating north at the same time, put on spectacular displays!

BBC Natures Great Events
IMAX 3D film: Wild Oceans:

Diving The Run

The dive is challenging only suitable for advanced scuba divers. The launch can be exhilarating to say the least and the boat remains dedicated to finding sardines for as long as possible - so the trip is not suitable for anyone who doesn’t like being out on the water for a long time. Underwater the action can become disorientating, you are in very deep water and often surrounded by large numbers of sharks. However it is possible to snorkel and even remaining dry on board is a rewarding experience.

Please note that the price remains the same should you scuba, snorkel or surface view. Most of all you need time and patience to dive the ‘Run’. One African phrase which is synonymous with the ‘Run’ is – ‘hurry up and wait’! An experienced crew is essential to maximise your chances of success, but by booking with Africa Diver you can reduce your waiting time!


Generally dive operators leave from the same site at Port St Johns. This may mean as many as ten boats are attempting to launch at the same time. If there is a big swell it is crucial that skippers take their time to judge the waves, so the boats form a queue and the waiting begins before you have even got beyond the breakers! Africa Diver offers sardine run dive trips that leave from a ‘secret spot’ located deep in the heart of the Transkei and are the only boat that launches here.  This means that you don’t have to wait your turn to get out on the ocean…how long the sardines take to show is down to Mother Nature! The location is remote, beautiful  and offers an all-round Africa adventure.

For more information please contact for dates, accommodation and costs.

Season and conditions:

  • June – early August
  • Water temp: 19 °– 21° C / 66° - 70° F
  • Visibility: Anywhere from 3m – 30m