Coral Divers is a great choice for anyone who wants good diving in Sodwana, while not breaking the bank to do so.
Firstly, it offers a range of clean, rustic and well-priced accommodation. We stayed in the tents, and although they are adequate and the shared ablution facilities good, I would definitely spring the extra R's for a chalet next time around. The tents are pretty much on top of one another, and we had guests crossing through our "lounge" area on a constant basis. Also, vehicles are parked at the back of the "tent town", so one has to plod through the sand whenever needing anything from the car. Most importantly though, the tents are not monkey-proof. They raided our tent more than once, even though we secured the zipper with a lock.
The resort has a lovely swimming pool (the perfect place to relax after an early morning dive!) and the restaurant serves a good range of inexpensive dishes. Self-caterers are well taken care of too. A huge kitchen is available to all guests, and the bbq facilities are situated right next to the restaurant. (Good produce available at the shop just outside the reserve gates, with an ATM which may or may not have money!)
Which brings me to the issue of service. Although our check-in was handled efficiently, it would have been helpful if the use of communal areas had been explained at the time. But one quickly catches on, so it's not a big deal. What is more of a let-down is the fact that the friendly smiles and warm welcome of the first day fade as the days go by. The staff do not seem to have much interest in the resort or the guests. We visited just before the Easter weekend, so maybe staff were charging their batteries for the big onslaught. However, I missed the SA warmth and hospitality that we had experienced elsewhere during this trip.
And on to the diving. A well-oiled machine would be the best way to describe the dive operation. Dive briefings take place every evening, and one gets to book your dives, sort out equipment and get information. Equipment and divers are transported to the beach (at the exact time, so don't be late) and porters are at hand to assemble equipment for a small fee. Coral Divers seem to be a breeding station for dive masters which means that they may be rather inexperienced and that there is a big turn-over of staff. You will also not see them at the resort after your dives, so you'll need to rely on the information available at reception to figure out where exactly you had dived and what you may or may not have seen. Our dive master on the first dive was really very inexperienced and personally I do not feel that he has the maturity to lead a dive. The following day we had a great dive master, though, so it seems to depend on the luck of the draw. The dives were good, if not spectacular.
I need to get back to the monkeys. They rule Coral Bay! Do not leave anything unattended, do not leave any doors open, and look up when passing under trees. They are clever, naughty and constant. If they can't have your stuff, they will have your patience. You've been warned...
So, after all of that, would I recommend Coral Bay? Yes, I would. Can't compare it to anything else in Sodwana, but they offer everything you need at a good price. Would I go back? Definitely!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Coral Divers is a PADI 5 star Gold Palm IDC/CDC Centre situated in Sodwana Bay, South Africa. We are proud to be able to provide all levels of PADI scuba instruction from Bubble Maker to Instructor Development Courses as well as accommodation and dive charters. Lying within the boundaries of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Sodwana Bay provides the travelling diver with a vast array of unspoilt coral reefs populated with a huge diversity of Indo-Pacific fish & invertebrates. Apart from the great diving & beautiful coral reefs, the area offers fun and excitement for the non-diver too. From quad bike riding, kiteboarding and paintballing to day trips to Makhasa Game Reserve for Rhino or Buffalo tracking on foot, you're sure to find something that appeals to you, your friends and/or family. Coral Divers offers you a very comfortable diving holiday experience while retaining the rustic appeal of an out-of-the-way bush camp. The area is covered with dense coastal forest offering exquisite scenery, bird watching, and a number of small mammals including Bush Babies, Genets, Duiker and Striped Mongoose. Sodwana is accessible by car, however we can arrange transfers from Hluhluwe - Bushlands (The BazBus drop off point) should you not have your own vehicle. Petrol & Diesel are available from the petrol station in the National Park, and there is a small supermarket which can provide you with essentials such as food, drink and sun block. There are a couple of restaurants both within and outside of the Park, as well as our local night club, 'Maak 'n Jol', where you can dance the night away. Sodwana is also within driving distance of a number of amazing game reserves including Makhasa Game Reserve, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Phinda Game Reserve & the Hluhluwe Mfolozi Park. We invite you to take a look through our site to find out a little more about Coral Divers - Sodwana Bay and the diving. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Coral Divers Sodwana, Africa