This lovely town is a favourite holiday destination, best known for its beautiful lagoon which empties into the sea through a spectacular mouth known as The Heads.

The nearby forests have many lovely hiking trails and are home to a few elusive forest elephants.

The water is clear and warm for most of the year, with the winter months offering the best visibility, although good visibility of 15m (50ft) and more can be expected under ideal conditions in December and January.

Up-welling occurs after a strong south-easter, which makes the water much colder; sea temperatures of as low as 9ºC (48ºF) have been recorded. There are no major rivers flowing into the sea, except for the algae-rich water of the Knysna Lagoon.

This does not greatly influence the visibility but does bring nutrient-rich water to the nearby reefs, encouraging prolific growth of invertebrate life.

The inviting aquamarine to emerald green waters of the lagoon offer protected diving even when the sea is rough, so the visiting diver does not have to leave without the chance of getting wet.

The visibility changes quickly with the tides and winds. The best time to dive is on high tide when the ocean water pushes in as far as the bottom bridge over the lagoon.

The lagoon area is under the protection of the National Parks Board, whose offices can be found at the end of Thesen's Jetty. They insist that divers tow or display the flag Alpha when diving in the lagoon as boat traffic can be heavy and hazardous to the unwary.

Exciting drift dives can be done on an incoming tide and a great distance can be covered in a relatively short time. Local divers have covered the 3.5km (2.25 miles) from the Heads to Thesen's Jetty in a time of one hour and 20 minutes.

Non-diving companions can go for long and scenic walks in the nearby forest, do a bicycle or horse trail, paddle a canoe across the lagoon, explore the Featherbeds Nature Reserve, visit a museum or even pan for gold in one of the streams in the forest.

If this all sounds too energetic, there are a number of good coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and craft shops to visit.

See also Encounter Magazine's comprehensive guide on Scuba Diving in South Africa.

Diving Sites

Access: By boat launched through The Heads or from Buffels Bay.
Average depth: 30m (100ft)
Maximum depth: Beyond sport diving depths.

A large pinnacle rising to 27m (90ft) below the surface, this fabulous reef is covered in colourful hard and soft coral and hosts a multitude of big gamefish, rockcod and other species. Dagleish Bank is a dive site that is not regularly visited due to the rather long distance from the launch sites, and is therefore still relatively unspoilt.

Access: By boat launched through The Heads.
Conditions: Diving is possible even when there are fairly big swells running.
Average depth: 20m (65ft)
Maximum depth: 24m (80ft)

There are overhangs, drop-offs and caverns covered in soft corals. Game fish, rays and sharks, such as ragged-tooths are often seen. This reef is so extensive that its can only be fully explored by doing a number of dives.

Then there are also Bruce's Bank and The Pinnacle diving sites, as well as wreck-diving on The Fairholme (1888), The Paquita (1903) and The Phantom wrecks, with fascinating little seahorses to be found at Thesen's Jetty, under the jetty itself, and not in the junkyard!
  • Diving at Knysna
  • Diving at Knysna
  • Diving at Knysna
  • Diving at Knysna

Diving at Knysna Map: