We snorkel. We swim. We even windsurf. But unfortunately without a PADI, we don’t scuba dive, yet. This prevented us from fully enjoying the marine life in Sodwana Bay, but we were still treated to a few lovely water and beach experiences.
Sodwana is known as a world class diving site, with a series of reefs just off shore that provide full time homes to a huge collection of fish, turtles, eels and dolphins, plus transient whales. This huge collection of opportunities sees numerous dive and fishing operators launching from Jesser Point Beach. We were there at a quiet time, but there were still several hundred people diving each day. It must be almost claustrophobic during holiday seasons.
Even though Sodwana Bay is a dive locale first and foremost, we had heard from numerous sources that there were also excellent snorkeling options so we wanted to check it out. Unfortunately the reefs are all more than 6 meters deep, which means that snorkelers have to look through close to twenty feet of water. Even with good visibility, that isn’t really ideal and doesn’t give you those magical close encounters with underwater creatures.
After speaking to several people when we arrived, we figured that snorkelling might be a lost cause and wandered up to the restaurant for a drink and dinner. It’s a simple affair, very much a beach bar atmosphere, but with nice views over the dunes to the ocean beyond and a very friendly manager. Warren used to live in Johannesburg, but packed in his previous life and wandered down to Sodwana to do a bit of scuba instruction and other odds and ends. He wound up managing the restaurant at Mseni Lodge, but also has plans to operate a unique snorkelling operation.
At Jesser Point, there are a series of rock pools that are suitable for snorkelling at low tide. Within these pools are a nice selection of fish, eels and even a turtle at times. It isn’t the same as open water snorkelling and a bump and a scratch off the rocks is almost guaranteed, but with his suggestion we explored these pools on our own early one morning as the sun came up. It wasn’t the most amazing snorkelling, but it was certainly different and offered a nice opportunity for those left behind on the beach by the dive boats.
The nice thing about staying at Mseni Lodge was its’ location down the beach from Jesser Point. We were able to walk down the one hundred stairs and several paths through the vegetation and pop out onto a fifteen meter high dune with the ocean below. Looking left and right, all we were able to see were the tendrils of dunes jutting out into the beach. Some were mere meters high, whilst others rose thirty meters high or more, leaving us feel like we were in our own private little paradise.
We sat on the beach, ran up the dunes, caromed down the dunes and generally enjoyed the ambience.
One evening we went for a run on the beach in the shadow of the dunes and were treated to thousands of ghost crabs lingering near the surf. It was amazing how many of these small red coloured creatures were out. Looking down the beach it was like a carpet of them along the water’s edge! In our thirty minute run we must have passed ten thousand crabs! Although these are the same crabs who pick off baby turtles as they try to make the long journey to the water when they hatch, we couldn’t help but appreciate their presence. It was an experience neither of us have had and was a wonderful microcosm of our trip up and down this enchanting coastline.