Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tiger Shark diving: Bahamas (Tiger Beach) vs. South Africa (Aliwal Shoal)

Which place is 'better'? Now, this is a tough question I have been asked after I returned from South Africa three weeks ago. Both spots are great, probably the only ones in the world where you are (almost) guaranteed to see tiger sharks on every dive.

Let me be brief: Tiger Beach in the Bahamas is what you'd expect from first class tropical diving in pristine waters; the viz is superb, and the sandy bottom as background makes for "clean" pics and videos. The diving is easy, and as you can get there only on a live-aboard (Jim Abernethy of Scuba Adventures and Scottie Smith of the Dolphin Dream Team are the guys who take you there - Jim being a confirmed Sharkman, whereas Scottie is more of a Dolphin fan as the name of his company implies), you have unlimited dives while anchored at Tiger Beach.

Aliwal Shoal, in contrast, is for the hard core shark divers: Darker waters, usually less viz than in the Bahamas, at times rough launches from the beach as the skippers have to get you past the surf - BUT: If what you are looking for is close and intense interaction with tiger sharks, I'd recommend that you go all the way to Umkomaas, about 25 miles south of Durban, and book at least 7-10 dives with the operator I consider the best there: Blue Wilderness.

Mark Addison of the Blue Wilderness team pioneered the tiger shark diving in South Africa and is the guy people like David Doubilet and Doug Perrine go with if they want to photograph the tigers or dive the by now famous Sardine Run. Doug shot his award winning pic of the copper shark coming out of a cloud of sardines there. So I thought that if Doubilet and Perrine pick Blue Wilderness, then this shark operator should be good enough for me....... :-)

My next plans? In December 2007 I will be back at Tiger Beach, and in March 2008 you'll find me and Felix in South Africa where we have some friends waiting for us: Roger Horrocks, the Blue Wilderness team, and "my" girls, of which one I will take out for a dance to renew our special friendship...

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