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“Hostile staff, accommodation crammed in”
Review of Coral Divers

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Coral Divers
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 5, 2012

Whilst Sodwana Bay itself is beautiful, Coral Divers is not. The reception staff were actually hostile and could not understand why we would want to check our room before paying R990 for a hut. They are building new huts which are exceptionally close to each other, and it will be so noisy when complete. The staff were on strike and protesting at the entrance as they are underpaid and have no pensions. We were woken from 7am by the builders working and watched them beat a monkey to death. The communal areas are fine but for the price, very much like a school or summer camp venue. The ensuite cabana itself was very basic but clean. The options in Sodwana are limited and over-priced so I guess this is just fitting in with that. Our only consolation for spending a night here was the thought that we could leave the next day and that it must be much, much worse when full in summer.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank LCOSP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 2, 2012

I guess if you want 'camping'... then staying at Coral Divers is fine. We pulled in expecting to stay two nights and dive 1 day. When we were showed to our room, one of their 'high-end' cabins. Yes, there were mosquito nets on the bed.... but the mosquito net was covered in lizard excretions because everyone I looked there were 4 to 5 inch lizards on the walls and ceiling of the cabin. No thanks.

THe place is campy, dirty and slightly disorganized.

We did go diving with them the next day. Our dive masters were very professional and safe. However, they let a bunch of the staff dive with us (mostly kids bw ages of 20 and 25) and they were all over the place underwater. I am shocked that our masks were not kicked off multiple times) .

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Alberta_K_42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2012

If you are looking for a dive center with the worst equipment, terrible divemasters and also taking risks then dive with this company.

We have did a lot of diver on the whole world, but not in Sodwana. We chosed especially for this dive centre because it is 5-star.
The divemaster were not good, they dropped you in the wather and they stay on the boot. You have to do it by yourself, because the divemaster forgot her equipment. Equipment was broken all te time, regulators that were not working, o-rings that were broken, bad instructions.
There was only one thing good at diving in Coreldivers and that was the transport to the beach but the rest sucks.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Robske
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 30, 2012

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!

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank DiveDiva21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 20, 2012

We've stayed here on a number of ocassions always in the en suite chalets which are rustic, airy, comfortable but basic. They aren't shy about charging though and R1000.00 a room for that room is more than two of us have just paid in a 4* establishment in America with a super breakfast thrown in. The separate chalets with a large communal area is a wonderful idea though and the dive briefings/bookings each night are sociable and great fun. Its a perfect place to go to with friends and large families because everyone gets to be private but then to meet up at mealtimes. Kudos to to Coral Divers for being the only place we have ever stayed at which not only allows, but makes provision for everyone to eat in the same dining area, regardless of whether they are ordering off the menu or braaing in the provided fires or cooking in the huge communal kitchen or just eating Woolworths cold meats and bread. That's simply amazing - we've been with a crowd and we all sit at the same table with everyone doing exactly as they please but eating at the same time. Something that none of the other operators can compete with is the proximity to the beach and the fact that they are situated within the national park area. Everyone else queues from early morning onwards to enter the national park within which Sodwana bay beach is situated. Plus there is a shuttle that leaves 45 minutes before each dive for the beach from reception with everyone in various stages of undress or kit and from the beach back to Coral Divers a short while after each dive. The divemasters are terribly nice but really inexperienced. Our family are long-time divers so we hang around at the back and do our own thing but I wouldn't like to be a new diver in a pickle under water with only a newly qualified kid to help out. The other problem with the rotational system they have in terms of turnover of divemasters is that they never get to really know the reefs like more experienced divemasters from other outfits and thats really what we want - someone to point out stuff we're sure to miss. Having said which - if you're a family that dives together there's nothing to beat Coral Divers for that combination of privacy and togetherness.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank scubafan09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2012

All aspects of the dive holiday to Coral Divers were effortless and a great success. Staff were super friendly and professional and the dives were very good.

Believe the signs about the monkeys though - the little critters grabbed all my snacks and raced off into the trees with my lunch :).

Facilities are also good - nice bar, restaurant and braai area.

Good quality rental gear - I've become kind of used to 2nd-rate hire hard gear with operators in Pretoria/Joburg, whereas Coral Divers' gear was perfect.

When I lost my weight belt when going off the boat the DM immediately located it 20 m below, brought it to the surface, took charge and sorted the issue out where I was bobbing around kinda helplessly - very impressed with that.

The roads from Gauteng are FULL of trucks, so allow enough time - it took us 9 hours to get there from Pretoria, a journey of 635 km.

Recommended. I'll be booking again as soon as possible.

Room Tip: The tents are very close together, so if there's one snorer in the vicinity... (who I believe wa...
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Stuart A A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2012

I stayed in an ensuite chalet at coral divers this weekend. The accomodation - while small was really comfortable and pleasant. The weather was terrible so we spent way more time than we would have liked at the resort. all round it was great. The food was especially good.

On the last morning they took forever to go and fetch our cylinders from the beach - we were told they would collect them at 6am if the diving was cancelled - diving was cancelled but they onl brought our cylinders back at 9am - in really bad weather aiting around and watching it get worse was not ideal as the roads were already bad - unnecessary bad organisation.

The coral skipper on the first dive was also a problem - he did not check his boat so we circled a number of times in rough surf while he tried to get both engines going. Then while we were kitting up he got involved in helping and did not watch the surf - this resulted in the boat going over a swell at a bad yet avoidable angle - and people being flung into the tanks and getting hurt. This did seem to give him enough of a fright to remain focused on the rest of the trip.

Room Tip: Go ensuite - its the biggest - and did not get as flooded as the rest
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank CathrynSouthAfrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Coral Divers

Address: Private Bag 320 | Mbazwana, 3974, Sodwana 3974, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Sodwana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 18 Specialty Lodging in Sodwana
Price Range: $45 - $65 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Coral Divers 3*
Number of rooms: 84
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

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