May 22

5 Best Places to Discover Shipwrecks in South Africa

Ever felt fascinated to witness a shipwreck? Shipwrecks tell us great tales of vessels that voyaged decades or maybe centuries ago. An exploration among one of the best destinations for shipwrecks will surely entice your rustic heart. And there's no lack of them: a rough estimate by UNESCO sets the number at around 3 million shipwrecks at the bottom of oceans with around 60 billion USD in treasures.

Shipwrecks can occur anywhere near a rough ocean with wild storms and thick fog, but South Africa holds the grim pride of holding a collection of up to 1500 shipwrecks in its collection!

South Africa, which possesses a coastline of 2500km, is treacherous in many parts, especially for sailors. Some great ships have even managed to vanish with absolutely no trace. ‘The Waratah- The Australian titanic' and ‘The Grosvenor' are two of them. The reports of such are documented only through fortunate survivors or eyewitnesses.

Shipwrecks have managed to constantly sparkle interests among people and divers  over time. It could be due to the urge of witnessing wrecks that relate stories from every corner of the globe. It can also be an attempt to understand the undeniably potent ocean that beholds the fate of those vessels.

If you are an enthusiast, here are few great shipwreck destinations to discover in South Africa!

Cape of Good Hope

cape of good hope

Cape of Good Hope

Known for granting hope for the first voyagers of the sea, Cape of Good Hope has mostly lived up to be known as the Cape of Storms for its strong gales, sheer cliffs and massive tempests that are perilous for ships.

Infamously known as the ‘graveyard of ships' Cape of Good Hope is the most famous dwelling for shipwrecks in South Africa holding a collection of around 400 shipwrecks to date.

Exploring history is the heart and soul of any traveler. A visit to see one of the oldest vessels can be a pivotal point in your travel life. Among the shipwrecks in South Africa is the great Thomas T Tucker, a vessel used during the World War II. Besides the rustic remains this massive ship will drift you back to the great wars where massive battles took place death-dealing thousand lives. Well, this liner didn't collude from battling against anyone but the treacherous sea it met on its journey.

The Cape of Agulhas Coast

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

Next stop on discovering shipwrecks in South Africa is located in the southern part of its coast. Here's where the Atlantic and the Indian oceans encounter and therefore is a place where strong ocean currents are formed. The Agulhas Coast creates a highly precarious situation where ships can hardly survive. It possesses around 140 wreckages and is known as a place where ships go to die.

Yet the Cape of Agulhas is a great destination for shipwreck explorers with many fascinating sights.

The very famous Japanese Meisho Maru 38 shipwreck is found in a location that is said to be very scenic for a ship to go aground. This small vessel can be found near the magnificent Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. It allows its visitors a very alluring setting of the ocean which is picturesque at sunset!

This is one of the visible as well as easier to access shipwrecks in South Africa.

The Wild coast

The Eastern Cape of South African coastline is known as The Wild Coast specifically for its wilderness holding a bad reputation among sailors.

The most famous wreck that took place here was the mystic sinking of the ship Grosvenor which went aground in 1782. Ships with treasures and pirates are said to exist only in our fairy tales. But this vessel had actually held innumerable valuable treasures and was heading back to England from India. Even though many attempts were made to discover it, all the efforts have been proven futile. This shipwreck was much noted due to its disappearance without much trace.

But the wild coast holds the very famous Jacaranda wreck which is still a fascinating sight to explore. The Greek-owned coaster ran aground on September 18th; 1971.It was due to failed engine being unable to compete with the massive storms that shook it down finally.

Though the rotting remains of this shipwreck are visible near the beach of Qolora only in bits and pieces, it still grants a spectacular view for the eyes of shipwrecks!

Shipwreck Dive Sites

Are you are an enthusiastic shipwreck explorer unwilling to stop from just sight-seeing visible shipwrecks? Are you enthusiastic enough to take the next step by diving into the ocean to discover them yourself?

There are many interesting diving sites to treasure hunt shipwrecks in South Africa that are easily accessible!

The very famous diving site is Smitswinkel Bay on the Southern Peninsula in Cape Town. This is known as the shipwreck seekers paradise and has gained a reputation for being one of the famous places for scuba diving. The habitation is a treasure holding around 5 shipwrecks where many lie temptingly close to shallow reefs.

Other sites for diving include the Maori wreck, the Oakburn, and the Katzmaru .

If you are a rookie to wreck diving,  start from the Ark Rock barge which is not deep and is much easier to steer in and out.

Highly experienced divers can visit the wreckage of Lusitania which is around 35m below Bellows Rock. This is advised only under perfect conditions as the deep dive can be anticipated by many dangerous circumstances.

Shipwreck museum in Bredasdorp, Agulhas Cape

Shipwreck museum in Bredasdorp

Shipwreck museum in Bredasdorp

If you are interested to find out the stories that lie beneath the ships that went aground facing a cruel fate along the coast of South Africa, the shipwreck museum is an ideal place to visit.

Situated in the South-Western Cape town of Bredasdorp, the museum contains many valuables retrieved from ships. It will also give you precise details and documentations of how and when ships met their tragic death accurately as possible.

The fatal consequences of these shipwrecks will always have a fascinating tale to fill us with. It’s why the number of tourists to visit these wrecks has grown over time. Many of us are curious to know the origin of these vessels and the loopholes that the ocean found to topple them down.

Afore the rustic remains that lay now are great tales of world history, brave sailors who ventured into perilous voyages. Observing these wrecked vessels alone will give us many perceptions of how things were done then. It will narrate how brave sailors were, willing to savor an unpredictable journey. These great destinations to discover shipwrecks in South Africa will surely make you wonder of about such things!!

This article was written by Raeesha Ikram, savvy travel blogger at , a personal travel blog of Adrian Sameli. To connect with Raeesha, follow her on Facebook.


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