Sardine Run FAQ

When is the Sardine Run?

The Sardine Run isn’t a fixed event on the calendar. For the area where we operate, it typically kicks off in mid to late May and stretches well into July.

The sardine shoals’ movements depend on factors like ocean currents and water temperature and understanding these changes is crucial to having a successful season.

Do I need to be a diver to experience the Sardine Run?

No – Most of the diving is done on snorkel as the action is very near the surface. This means snorkeling is also an option and you do not need to be a scuba or freediver. Even for our guides it is very rare that they use scuba during the week.

For scuba divers (when possible), we require a minimum number of dives logged beforehand and at least being at an advanced level to be able to enter the water with scuba gear.

For non-divers, action can also be observed from the boat. While diving/snorkeling offers a front-row seat to the action, you can still witness the amazing spectacle from the surface.

Is the Sardine Run for everyone?

The Sardine Run can be physically demanding. Whether diving or snorkeling, participants should be in good health and comfortable in the water. In short – there will be no ‘hand holding’ and we expect all participants to be self sufficient in the water.

Days can be long and you can expect anything to happen, ranging from intense action the entire day at sea, with repeated entries and exits, to other days with little to no action and many hours cruising in an open boat with no shade.

What should I expect on a day to day basis during the Sardine Run?

Be prepared for a full day of adventure and being at sea for between 5 to 7 hours. Days start early (usually at sunrise) with a surf launch from the beach. Once we are on the water we start searching for the sardine action, often using birds or other predators as clues. Water temperatures can be cool (19 degrees and 21 degrees C. or 66 to 70 degrees F), so a good wetsuit is important. Visibility can vary, and the ‘dives’ can be either close to, or very far from shore.

Once we find activity, we decide if snorkeling or diving is suitable (based on sea state, visibility, what is going on etc). We then do a quick on-site briefing to tell you what the plan is and get you in the water.

These dives are quick bursts of excitement – 5-10 minutes of pure adrenaline before popping back up to chase the action and dive back in. Although less likely (but not impossible), on other occasions the activity might be more stationary and can last for hours.

You can expect massive balls of sardines with common dolphins torpedoing past, seals (sealions), gannets and more hitting the ball and different special of sharks working from underneath. It truly is one of the greatest natural events on the planet and something breathtaking to see up close.

If you plan on jumping in, know that this adventure isn’t for the timid – it’s for those who crave an unforgettable, heart-pounding experience of a lifetime!

At the end of the day we head back to the beach, walk back up to the lodge and unwind. 

What about safety?

Safety is paramount during the Sardine Run. Choosing a reputable operator with experienced guides who focus on ethical and responsible practices is crucial. The Oceans Around Us crew and partners has decades worth of experience in South African waters and you could not be in better hands. 

We do full briefings for guests before all trips (safety, animals, rules, conduct etc.), our crew are certified as Emergency First Responders and we also have all essential safety equipment onboard our boats. 

What is the weather like between May and July?

Being in the southern hemisphere, South Africa experiences its winter during these months. Weather can vary from rainy to (more often) dry weather. In terms of temperatures, the highs can be around 21.3°C / 70.3°F and lows of 14.7°C / 58.5°F (and even less than this at night and in the early morning). 

It is a good idea to have a windproof jacket or waterproof poncho for the boat to counter the windchill or to stay warm if it rains (even if you are in your suit). 

What is the accommodation like?

We are very fortunate to have our base be in a very quiet and beautiful part of the wild coast. We rarely encounter other operators (unlike other popular locations) and we have no ‘competition’ to get out to sea.  The lodge is right on the edge of an estuary and looks over endless white sandy beaches. Some mornings it is even possible to see the sardine action right from the balcony during breakfast! 

Rooms are spacious and comfortable, meals are absolutely incredible and you will stay well fed during your time with us. We can also cater for different diets (vegan, allergies etc).

What should I pack?

In terms of clothes – keep in mind that the temperature can fluctuate from cold to nice and warm, so pack layers. It is also important to bring sunscreen and a hat. Sunglasses are highly recommended. 

For the boat – all your own dive gear apart from weights and dive cylinder. This means (minimum) a mask, snorkel, wetsuit and fins. Keep in mind that we are in a remote location, so if you forget something we might not be able to help you. A windproof jacket (or poncho) to wear over your suit. A small 5L dry bag for your personal effects (sunglasses, phone, hat etc) is also a good idea. A small dry microfiber cloth is also good to have in your drybag to clean glasses/camera lenses. 

We walk roughly 600m each way to and from the boat (morning and afternoon) over grass, a bit of firm and then soft sand. Many of us do this barefooted, but if you prefer to wear something on your feet which can get wet, consider flip-flops or Crocs. 

For underwater photographers – it is advised to bring a cooler bag to carry and store your camera in. They work very well (even for bigger setups), offer great protection and is very easy to pack in your luggage.  Although we have sufficient space onboard, we do not have unlimited space for multiple hard plastic camera cases/buckets onboard. 


Have more questions?

If there is more you would like to know, please send us a message and we will do our best to help.

The Sardine Run is an unforgettable adventure that showcases the power and beauty of nature. By planning and preparing with these FAQs in mind, you can ensure a safe and amazing experience on this South African diving must-do.

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