Guided by torches and the light of the moon we scrambled down the rocks into a natural gully off Sheffield beach.
Carrying snorkels and flippers we followed Mitchy Morris, our anticipation building with every step.
Ballito has more to offer than sandy shores and sunshine. A mystical world of fantastical creatures and colours exists, largely unnoticed by the average person, all along our rocky shores.
This local has made it her ambition to introduce people to the wonders below the waves with her company Tidal Tao.
Mitchy offers snorkeling safaris off Salt Rock and Ballito – a brilliant introduction to the world under the sea.
My husband and I joined Mitchy on one of her more advanced, exploratory trips, a Night Snorkeling Safari.
What we discovered was life beyond all expectations.
Unlike her day trips, the night safaris are focused less on the fish and more on the little critters and invertebrates.
Before we donned our gear, Mitchy took us through the motions of safety, what we could expect to see and how to identify the more unusual species we would likely see.
When I slipped into the cool water I did wish I had worn a wetsuit but I was soon too lost in my explorations to notice the cold too much.
Unfortunately Tidal Tao is not yet able to hire out wetsuits, although they do provide all the other necessary gear.
The gully was teeming with life, from brightly coloured nudibranchs, sea slugs and flatworms to octopus, massive sea urchins, shrimps, crayfish, scorpion fish, soft corals, damsel fish and crabs.
Floating above looking down on all this with my underwater flashlight I was careful to touch as little as possible as every rock was host to flowerbeds of anemones and other life forms.
Mitchy tells me Ballito is very special because we have a huge variety of nudibranchs, indicating that the water quality is very good.
The experience left me with a new appreciation for this beautiful natural resource.
Our rocky shores should ever be protected and cherished for future generations.