I learnt to dive in Cape Town, and they say if you can dive in the Cape – with its cold waters, shy sea life, cold waters, claustrophobic kelp and cold waters - you can dive anywhere. Did I mention that the water is cold?
The prospect of 12-degree water and 10mm wetsuits means I don’t get in (or under, to be precise) the water nearly as much as I’d like to, but this book has certainly piqued my interest in getting back into scuba diving.
Filled with stunning underwater and topside photography, for occasional divers like myself it’s a fantastic reminder of why we took up the sport in the first place.
At its heart, though, this is a book for the diver who has gotten off the couch and has his BC, tank and regs packed in the boot already. The CB and dregs or whatawhat, I hear you ask?
Well, if you’re new to diving – or considering getting started – it devotes a good few pages to a range of topics around diving in South Africa and Mozambique. How to get started, who trains divers, the kit you’ll need, the risks, the rewards, Marine Protected Areas and diving etiquette are all covered briefly to give new divers some perspective on the sport.
But once you’re qualified and ready to head into the great blue yonder it’s the heart of the book that will appeal.
Thirteen chapters over 130-odd pages cover dozens of the very best dive sites across South Africa and Mozambique, from the cold waters of Cape Point to the whale sharks and Manta Rays of Inhambane. Even inland sites in Gauteng are included.
Within each chapter a handful of the best, most interesting and most popular sites of each area are covered in some detail. A general location map helps self-divers (i.e. those diving with their buddy, and not as part of an organised dive with a local divemaster) locate the dive site. For each site, more detailed maps indicate average and maximum depths, recommended dive route and points of interest. For the more famous dive sites, additional info on underwater fauna and flora, as well as some natural history, are also included.
Complementing the maps is a brief description of each dive, indicating whether it’s a shore or boat entry, and describing the why, where and how of each site. Insider info around highlights to look out for, the fish you’re likely to spot and dangers to avoid are especially handy for novice divers or bubble-blowers guiding themselves around the site. A fairly comprehensive ‘Marine Species Identification Guide’ at the back will help you identify the underwater suspects spotted on your dive.
The book – and dive site descriptions – is written in Fiona McIntosh’s typically enthusiastic style and, as former editor of Divestyle magazine and author of a number of travel and books, there are perhaps few people better placed to pen a guide such as this. Coupled with maps that are clear and easy to follow it all comes together to make for an excellent dive guide… a book that inspires you to dive through showing you how terribly easy it is to get out there and get underwater.
The golden rule in scuba diving is to “plan your dive, and dive your plan”. While Fiona’s new book can’t help you with the latter, it’ll certainly make planning your South Africa and Mozambique dives that much easier. The perfect Christmas stocking-filler.
The ‘Atlas of Dive Sites of South Africa & Mozambique’ is available at all good book stores for R199.95, or online via www.mapstudio.co.za.