July 1 - 11, 2026

+++ Sardine Run South Africa +++

If you like the following, this trip might be for you:

Boiling Ocean

Every year between May and July, billions of sardines spawn in the cold waters before moving northwards along the East coast of South Africa. This migration open the floodgates for one of the most thrilling nature spectacles in the world. The sardines are hunted by gannets, while sharks flash through the water, dolphins chase the bait balls and and whales get into position to strike at any moment. As this insanity takes place, the action is so wild that the sea seems to be boiling.

Travel with Locals

Our guides at Offshore Africa have been leading Sardine Run adventures for more than 30 years. They have literally seen it all. We are proud to work with true South Africans that know these waters inside out and most of all make sure we are in safe hands! Much love for Rob and Debbie, who do the absolute maximum to get you the best Sardine Run experience. There will be an airplane exclusively skimming the water for our group to help spot the bait balls!

Insane Diversity

The diversity this trip has to offer is truly unparalleled. Diving birds, huge pods of dolphins (sometimes numbering in their thousands!), multiple shark species, migrating whales: it's all here. To encounter one of these species alone would be a joy, to see them all together hunting the same prey is just total madness. The Sardine Run is one of the most unique animal spectacles in the world.

Small Group

This trip is intimate. Each boat only hosts 6 people, making the action not only controllable, but also guaranteeing space and time for every guest to enjoy the spectacle. We want to safeguard small circles, away from the crowds ensuring the most authentic experiences.

Advanced Trip

The pace of the search and getting in and out the water makes this trip quite intense. One should therefore not disregard the effort involved. Although the hours of searching, waves, rough seas are definitely worth it, they definitely require a good physical condition.


Respect for wildlife is an absolute priority both for us and everyone we work with. During this adventure we make sure animals are never being chased or forced into interactions, and have their natural behaviour impacted as little as possible. As divers we try to lead by example, and we expect our guests to do so too!

Adventure Trip

This trip is not your average diving holiday, but an intense high reward diving adventure! Jumping in and out of the zodiac, cold South African winter and the hot afternoon sun gives a full spectrum experience!

Sardine Run South Africa!

"The Sardine Run ocean safari is our passion and the absolute highlight of each year for us. We never know what each day, let alone each hour will bring on these days and this, coupled with the most incredible marine sightings, makes the Sardine Run ocean experience the single best event on the marine calendar."

- Rob Nettleton & Debbie Smith, Offshore Africa -

Sardine Run South Africa!

"Birds bombing into your picture. Sharks popping out from every direction, dolphins joining the hunt... This place is crazy: the ocean just seems to come alive. There is nothing compared to it."

- Peter Löseke, Behind the Mask videographer -

Meet your BTM Trip leader

Timon Koch

UW Photographer and Trip Leader

Sardine Run with Offshore Africa

1 to 11 July, 2026

Trip price:

€ 4.899
  • per person (see details below for what is included in this price)


  • 10 nights at St. Johns River Lodge
  • breakfast and dinner
  • packed boat refreshments: water, snacks & drinks
  • airport transfer from Mthata Airport
  • 8 days boatcharter with a group of max. 6, incl. guide, tanks and weights
  • Diver permit to dive within Pondoland marine protected area
  • Full and exclusive to Offshore Africa aerial support (spotting) with an aircraft & pilot.  This is NOT shared aerial with any other operator.
  • The trip will be led by UW Photographer Timon Koch!

Not included:

  • Int. flight to Mthata Airport (UTT)
  • alcohol/non-alcohol drinks
  • Transfers – can be arranged at an additional charge
  • Equipment rental – MUST be pre booked. R 80.00 per item, per day OR R 400.00 full rental per day
  • Additional chargeable land-based activities i.e. guided hikes / cultural tours / afternoon flights
  • Diving insurance & travel insurance
  • Air fares / taxes
  • Visas
  • Crew tips

Our terms & conditions apply!

We highly recommend DiveAssure insurance, which covers force majeure cases and single missed days of diving due to sickness. 

Get in touch!

July 1 to 11, 2026

From Mthata Airport we will have a transfer to our accommodation St. Johns River Lodge. We will be a small group of max. 6 people with a private boat charter for 8 days of Sardine Run. The Sardine Run is a unique natural spectacle that only exists in South Africa. As special as this spectacle is, one should not disregard the effort involved. Hours of searching, waves, rough seas and no guarantee of success can drain your strength. This trip is only for advanced divers and snorklers who are not prone to getting sea sick.

The important thing is to never forget that this is a natural spectacle. And nature is not always that predictable.

Typical Day on a Sardine Run Ocean Safari Trip

Daily outings last for approximately 6 – 8 hours depending on sea / weather conditions and the amount of activity about. With the action being fast and furious in conjunction with variable sea conditions, long boat rides and the whole day out at sea, outings can prove strenuous, therefore it is recommended that clients be relatively fit.

Departure time is usually 06h30 and return time depends on the action on the day. We try to stay out at sea for as long as possible, giving our clients a good chance to capitalze on whatever Nature has to offer.

Each morning at around 06h20, our boats will depart from our home-based jetty to collect clients by boat. We then head down the Umzimvubu river and into the surf zone at Port St. Johns. After a typical and highly exciting African surf launch, crew will start looking for all types of action, from whales, dolphins and ocean bird action to the little silver sardine / bait fish type action. Our skippers will be in touch with our “eye in the sky” pilot for an update on sightings.

Sardine / bait fish activity is usually sighted from large flocks of cape gannet sightings or by the more trusted large pods of common dolphin activity.

Our communication with our pilot and other spotter networks is vast and we are also in communication with Natal Sharks Board members that conduct regular flights further afield. Our local knowledge of “hiding” places also comes into play here and all avenues are explored to find action for you.

Once action is located, our experienced crew will determine whether this action is fast moving, necessitating snorkel viewing, or more static, whereby we can go straight onto scuba equipment for those wishing to use scuba gear. First hand action will be experienced by snorkellers, divers and boat based passengers, which ensures an exciting day out for everyone where no one is left out of all the excitement that nature brings with her.

Port St. Johns River Lodge

Our accommodation choice is Port St. Johns River Lodge, which is regarded by many travellers as a “home away from home”. Port St. Johns River Lodge has a full bar and restaurant on site and is situated alongside the picturesque mighty Umzimvubu River with spectacular views of Mt. Sullivan & Mt. Thesiger. The lodge is situated across the river from the operating base from Offshore Africa, which makes it easy to collect and drop off daily.

Quick Facts

  • WIFI
  • Drying room for wetsuits
  • Hot shower rinse-off at boat jetty area
  • Walking distance to convenience shop / liquor store / fuel station
  • Swimming pools (1 heated / 1 un-heated)
  • Family room and Twin bed rooms available

Port St. Johns

For many years the Pondoland Wild Coast has shrouded its secrets from the masses and to this day is a little known and forgotten part of South Africa’s East coast.
This stretch of coastline is regarded as the most dramatic stretch of coastline on the continent of Africa and truly lives up to its name…the “Wild Coast”. Port St. Johns lies exactly in the middle of this amazing stretch of coast. Port St. Johns is located on the eastern seaboard of South Africa approximately 380 km south of Durban. (4 hour drive) and is within the province of the Eastern Cape. The WILD COAST lies between the southern border of Natal, Port Edward and the port town of East London approximately 300 km further south and happens to be the most rugged and naturally unspoiled piece of coastline to be found on the African continent. The time forgotten coastal town of Port St. Johns, situated on the magical Pondoland Wild Coast has become one of the most popular destinations from which to experience the Sardine Run in all its glory.

Offshore Africa

Offshore Africa is owned, run and managed by Rob Nettleton & Debbie Smith, a highly qualified team whose experience spans in excess of 30 years in the dive industry. Offshore Africa pride themselves on their knowledge & experience, their personal service, the flexibility of their business to suit their clients and above all, the Sardine Run ocean safari is Debra & Robs passion and the absolute highlight of each year for them.

„We never know what each day, let alone each hour will bring on these days and this, coupled with the most incredible marine sightings, makes the Sardine Run ocean experience the single best event on the marine calendar.“

Offshore Africa has been operating on the Wild Coast for many years and has extensive home-based knowledge. They are the only locally based sardine run specialist operator based in Port St Johns, successfully running sardine run trips from their base in Port St Johns since 2008. They are therefore ideally located to offer you a superb, fun filled trip, coupled with a highly experienced Sardine Run specialist team of skippers and dive guides that form part of their team.

We offer a boat based adventure for everyone, whether a diver or non-diver. All nature lovers, bird watchers, photography enthusiasts, dolphin and whale enthusiasts, snorkellers and scuba divers will thoroughly enjoy this incredible event of nature, which has been likened to the land based “Wildebeest migration of the Serengeti” and the marine equivalent of this has since been called “The Greatest Shoal on Earth”. Join us for an experience of a lifetime in the most beautiful and scenic place of Port St. Johns, Wild Coast, Transkei.

Personal note to you from Offshore Africa…

The Sardine Run is one of the hardest products in the dive industry to market and to work with. The main reason being is that every outing is dependent on what nature offers us on that particular day. BUT…it is not just about sardines and baitballs. It has been and is still rated to be the marine equivalent of the famous Wildebeest migration that takes place on the Masai Mara and Serengeti plains of central Africa and is just as thrilling and spectacular to witness whether above surface or underwater. Just the amount of oceanic predators and bird life make this an enthralling experience and offers phenomenal photographic opportunities both above and below the water.

Something that few people realize or read about regarding the Sardine Run is the fact that aside from sardine (Sardinops Sagax), there are at least another 5 or 6 species of bait fish doing their own mini or not so mini migrations at the same time (Anchovies, sugar mackerel, red eye herring, East coast herring, Sauri & a few more). Each of these species attracts predators in all shapes and sizes and is preyed upon at every given opportunity. Some of the these species have a tendency to “ball” as a defensive strategy, as sardine does, while others just scatter and create chaos.

A few things are guaranteed on every outing: – huge pods of dolphin sometimes numbering in their thousands, numerous species of sharks (if visibility allows) are seen individually or in large packs on most “jump-ins”. A huge variety of oceanic bird life including the well-known Cape Gannet, which arrives in their thousands, 5 species of Albatross, Petrels, Cormorants, Terns and of course, through it all, we have the annual Humpback Whale migration offering loads of breaching and surface displays due to the topography of our coastline.

The attraction of it all is the fact that one just never knows what one will come across or experience on any given day.

6 spaces still available

Top rated operator