Diving the Sardine Run

Diving the Sardine Run

When you arrive in South Africa, we are your hosts, tour guides and dive guides for the duration of your trip. Our Sardine Run 2023 packages include so much. All in all we take care of Airport Transfers, Transfers to and from Port St Johns, boat lunches, dinners, marine permits, cylinder hire, weight hire, Accommodation and Scuba Diving all you must do, is get here!

What to expect

You can look forward to exciting surf launches, up to 8 hours a day at sea searching for the annual sardine run migration. Port Saint Johns is nested in the heart of the wild coast therefore the landscape from sea is spectacular. Therefore, whales breaching really close, mega-pods of common dolphins, brydes whale, occasional sightings of orca and mola-mola can be expected.  You’ll pass sites such as blow-hole and waterfall bluff, amazing offerings by nature.

Some days you’ll find the sardines are running but marine predators are not feeding. For this reason on these days we have a secret reef to dive that is inhabited by hundreds of Ragged Tooth Sharks (Spotted Sand Tigers).

Who should join?

Apart from our Sardine Run 2023 packages are aimed at divers, snorkelers looking for pure adventure are welcome too. Getting up close and personal with sharks, game fish, seals, penguins, sardines, mola-mola and, on occasion, orca and many species of marine-birds and marine mammals. Water temperature is around 18 – 21 degrees Celsius so a 7mm wetsuit will suffice. This is because a lot of the action is experienced on snorkel. As a result dry suits cause drag and you could miss out on the underwater feeding frenzy and baitballs. Therefor dry suits are not entirely suitable.

Definitely bring your camera so that you can be your own Natgeo star! Moreover, Sardine Run 2023 will be Nature’s gift to you.


Why do Sardine Run?

The Sardine Run is simply amazing. You are often surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales, game fish, seals and millions of sardines. The noise of the diving gannets, the speed of the dolphins and the sharks and whales. They are all coming in to take part in this awesome event. All enjoying a huge feast!

How many dives do we do?

We enter the water as many times as possible during the day. Sometimes just on snorkel and other times scuba diving. This depends on how fast the action is moving and how comfortable the animals are. Sometimes the bubbles from scuba diving chase the animals away.

What else can we see?

In addition, during the Sardine Run, the annual Humpback Whale migration passes Port St Johns. Offering some amazing up-close sightings of them. In the water, close to the boats and when the whales are breaching.

How does it work?

Each morning we receive updates about the Sardine movements. Subsequently assisting in decisions about the Sardine Run diving for the day. We launch from the Umzimvubu River in Port St. Johns. Operating north and south depending on where the action is. We are holders of MPA scuba diving permits which allows us access to SCUBA DIVE during the Sardine Run. We are also proud members of the Sardine Run Association


Where it begins

On the first activity day of your all-inclusive Sardine Run package, you will dive on Aliwal Shoal which gives you a chance to check your dive gear, get your weights sorted and to dive with the sharks.

Aliwal Shoal Diving

During June & July, shark species found on Aliwal Shoal include Ragged Tooth Sharks, Oceanic Blacktip Sharks, Dusky Sharks & more. Undoubtedly this reef system is rated as one of the top-10 dive sites in the world. Moreover, this is where we operate our shark diving packages year-round. Before each dive, we give a briefing to help you to understand the behaviour of sharks. Thus, ensuring you have a safe and fun experience. This involves observing the sharks, learning how to identify them and find out how sharks interpret your behaviour in return. Indeed, this is also home to a wide variety of other marine life. Mostly including whales, dolphins, turtles, rays, eels, game fish and reef fish. Between dives, we often see Humpback Whales and Dolphins from the boat. After the diving, we will return to Blue Ocean Dive Resort, where we will enjoy a quick “brunch” before we transfer to Port St Johns.

During our Sardine Run packages, you will indeed get to experience diving on the Sardine Run in addition to snorkeling. Port St Johns offers an array of marine life. This includes dolphins, whales, game fish, sharks, and birds. The package includes diving at one of the top -10 dive sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal, South Africa too.

Typical Day at Aliwal Shoal


We meet at 7 am for a quick coffee, toast, and fruit. This is NOT the breakfast that’s included instead, to keep the wolf at bay while diving.

Kit-up and dive briefing

Once breakfast is finished, we move into the kit up area and get ready for the days diving. Our dive team is there to help you. With your gear, load the boat and to brief you on launching and the days diving at Aliwal Shoal.


Jump on the vehicles and we are off to the launch site. This is where you will experience an exciting surf launch on our 8m RIB. The diving is planned around the best sites for the conditions each day.  Get up close with the several types of sharks in addition to the rest of the marine life. Our dive depth varies from around 15 to 35 meters depending on the dive sites. While our focus is to get your gear sorted for diving the Sardine Run. You will also be scuba diving with some of the sharks found on Aliwal Shoal. Also seeing a vast variety of other marine life including whales, dolphins, rays, turtles, eels and much more. We do two dives on Aliwal Shoal before heading back to the dive center at Blue Ocean Dive Resort.

Typical Diving Day at Port St Johns


We meet at 7 am for breakfast and receive updates about the sardine run action and the day’s conditions so we can decide where the best diving will be. Once breakfast is finished, we kit up for the day’s action. The dive team is there to help you with all your diving needs, to brief you on your days diving and the action you are likely to see.

Sardine Run Diving

We launch from the Umzimvubu River in Port St. John’s operating north or south depending on where the sardine run action is. Most of the day is spent at sea, launching at about 8 am and we are back by about 3 pm. The day is ruled by the Sardine Run activity. We enter the water many times during the day. Sometimes just on a snorkel and other times scuba, diving the baitballs, it really depends on how fast the action is moving.

What can we see?

We follow the common dolphins as they work together to create the bait balls and then the action begins, the dolphins, birds, sharks, and Brydes whales all enjoy a huge feast.

The noise of the diving gannets is amazing as they surround the boat, diving for the sardines. The action is amazing, and you are often surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales and more. We also have many opportunities to watch the Humpback Whales on their annual migration.

Rest of the Day

In the late afternoon, we return to the accommodation at Cremorne Estate, where you can choose to relax, download photos & video footage or you can opt to go sightseeing in the afternoon. We are always available to take you on local excursions to show you more of the area. Our dives are for advanced divers and the depth varies from around 15 to 35 meters depending on the dive sites.

The Evening

In the evening we enjoy dinner at the restaurant. Have a drink with your new dive buddies and discuss the day’s Sardine Run and diving events. Finally, you retire to your bedroom with en-suite facilities and enjoy a relaxing night’s sleep. Ready for the next day’s diving.