Tidal Tao ~ Tidal, because our snorkelling and beach experience is always dictated by the tides.
Tao, a Chinese phrase for the "way or path" / a philosophy or code of behaviour
At Tidal Tao, we are dilly, silly and plain old passionate about the ocean and our neighbourhood of Salt Rock, near Ballito, on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. This is possibly some of the best snorkelling experiences South Africa has to offer, year round warm water, incredible fish and marine life, all in shallow, safe, protected tidal pools and natural rocky reef areas.
The coastline, known as the Dolphin Coast (just north of Durban) between Ballito and Sheffield Beach, offers a surprising underwater wonderland. The coastline here is a wilderness, a wilderness that rivals any big game reserve or national park in it's size and diversity of animal species, we see whales on ancient migrations pass our way each winter, dolphins playing in the surf, we have recorded over 150 species of fish in water less than waist deep, over 100 species of Nudibranchs and some of the southern most shallow water corals in the world. It's a special place and worth protecting. We estimate that you see about 5% of what is actually in the water, stick your head under with a mask and snorkel and an entirely new world is suddenly opened up to you. And that is our mission, to just get people in the water, exposed to the amazing variety of life in our oceans in the hope that you will be as amazed and appreciative of this natural beauty as we are.
We really hope you join us on a snorkelling trip and you can see first hand what we get so excited about.
To find out more about how you can get involved in our conservation work Conservation Projects
If you can swim, then we can teach you to snorkel. If you're wondering what to do in Things to do in Ballito And Salt Rock, then a snorkel with Tidal Tao is a must. Fun and safe for the entire family. We have 5 star ratings on Trip Advisor, safe, reliable and focus on small groups with personal attention. We hope you join us and see for yourself what we get so excited about
About Our Snorkelling Trips & How We Work
This really is about as close as you will get to Scuba Diving without Scuba Diving (and at a fraction of the cost) - If you have even be contemplating Scuba Diving one day, then we highly recommend that you get a taste for underwater life with a mask and snorkel.
All trips are done at specific tides or in specific pools / reefs (we call them holes) where you are totally protected from the open ocean. You have NO chance of being washed away or drowning out at sea OK. So stop worrying....you'll just have a lot of fun and see amazing stuff. Snorkeling is perfect if you're looking for things for kids to do in Ballito, they just love it!
All trips are in small intimate groups. This ensures that you get personal attention, can ask questions, are well looked after and most importantly, ensures that we do not do any damage or harm to the marine environment. We have all the gear you may need for hire.
You can expect to see a huge variety of fish life, octopus, sea hares, corals and critters you only thought existed in your wildest imagination. BUT this is a bit like visiting the game reserve, some days you can see Lions, Elephant and Leopards falling out the trees, other days you just see a lone Impala. We can however guarantee fish, lots of fish...if you don's see fish we will give you a FULL REFUND
We will give you all the information you need on what to bring, where and when upon booking. Our schedule is based on weather and tide forecasts. should we cancel a trip for any reason and you can not make the alternative date, we guarantee a FULL REFUND.
Meet The Team
- Michy Morris, founder / owner of Tidal Tao is our main guide, official Nudibranch spotter and wave watcher. Michy has been in the ocean since she can remember, surfer girl extraordinaire and critter spotter of note. Michy has been involved in a wide range of conservation and tourism initiatives through our sister company ETC-Africa, dealing with tourism planning through to carbon footprint management. The ocean is where Michy feels most at home and a snorkelling trip with her will leave you understanding just why she loves the salt water so much. Michy is known for her amazing patience, great with kids in the water and ability to find you some amazing creatures underwater.
- Elzanne “Zanie” Odendaal is the latest addition to the Tidal Tao team. Marine guide, animal lover, scuba enthusiast. Zanie is deeply burdened with a life-mission of conserving and protecting the natural environment. She recalls that her intimate passion for the ocean was a treasure she inherited from her father and has ever since been an undeterred, selfless trooper for countless conservational causes. She realized that one of the most powerful tools for enhancing conservation was marine education and could clearly see difference in people’s attitude, once they experienced the depth and richness of what our wonderful planet has to offer With her natural apt for sparking the adventurous spirit in kids and her keen interest to listen and teach others, Zanie offers an experience not be missed. Inspired by matriarch pioneers such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle, Zanie aspires to one day making a substantial difference to her dearest species, Sharks. In her free time you’ll find her exploring rocky crevasses under the sea or in KZN's rural areas helping needy animals.
- Andre Steenkamp is our environmental education specialist and leads our very popular night walks. Andre is probably one of the world's best environmental educators and dripping with enthusiasm. His sense of humour (which can be rather shocking at times, so prepare yourselves) will have you in stitches. If you ask Andre what he is interested in, he will say "everything" ...Andre has an incredible pool of knowledge of virtually every critter you come across, from the strange shell on the beach to the ants in your kitchen, Andre will be able to tell you something about it that will make you say "wow" - on the downside, Andre is terrified of cold water, but he survives in the ocean OK.
- Junior Gabela is our Tidal Trail guide and environmental education guide, starting out his career as a BirdLife South Africa Accredited Bird Guide in Amatikulu Nature Reserve, Junior has also grown a successful canoe and birding tourism company in the area. When not guiding, Junior works with groups of rural school children introducing them to the wonders of nature. Junior has also spent many years working on various monitoring projects along the coast focused around estuary ecosystems, so he knows his stuff. Junior is a hive of information, has an insatiable appetite for finding new things and one of the friendliest guides you will ever meet....and as dilly about the ocean as he is about birding, be warned, he is a twitcher of note. Did we mention that he somehow manages to juggle a family life too?
- Duncan Pritchard leads most of our environmental / conservation efforts, a passionate underwater photographer with a background environmental issues, non profit organizations and land based conservation. He has worked in conservation and tourism across the globe, from Australia to Botswana to Canada and Mexico. “with all my years of exploring the ocean and being passionate about snorkelling, I've never had such a variety of marine life, so easily accessible from the shore, and all that in a semi-urban built up area, Snorkeling the Dolphin Coast is amazing and conserving this treasure has become our mission”