Shark Cage Diving in South Africa is perhaps one of the most thrilling experiences one can have while traveling. A primal fear exists in all of us that would initially cause us to reject the notion of getting in the water with some of the ocean’s top predators, Great White Sharks. The truth is that there are many misconceptions about these animals, and shark cage diving in South Africa is perfectly safe!
In addition to Kruger National Park, which is home to the Big Five, South Africa boasts prolific marine life including the Marine Big Five: whales, penguins, dolphins, sharks, and Cape Fur Seals. The latter of the five is what makes South Africa such a fertile hunting ground for the Great White Sharks.
The seals like to congregate on two islands, Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. The sea channel between them forms the infamous “Shark Alley” where the Great Whites hunt for seals. Dyer Island is also known as Seal Island for its large seal colony of 64,000 strong. Each year around 12,000 seal pups are born in November and December.
When to go: There are Great White Sharks in Shark Alley all year, but for best visibility try to go in the winter months from March to September. The best time to schedule whale-watching excursions is from July to November (see picture below).
Where to dive: All shark cage dives are done in Shark Alley, which means you’ll have to take a boast ride out from whichever harbor your shark cage diving tour company operates from. Shark Alley is 5 miles off the coast of Gansbaai, a town that has a handful of diving companies. There are also tours operating from the nearby town of Kleinbaai. I used Marine Dynamics Shark Tours (also known as Shark Watch SA) located in Kleinbaai.
You can arrange your dive as a day trip from Cape Town (2-hour drive) or stay in the nearby Grootbos Private Nature Reserve like we did. From the reserve, it’s only a 40-minute drive to Kleinbaai. This is also a popular day trip from Hermanus (about 40-minute drive). Most tours begin in 9 or 10 in the morning and last approximately 4 hours.
Not if you choose a fully licensed and insured tour company. South Africa has strict regulations about the equipment, cages, even the type of chum used to lure in the Great White Sharks. If you are prone to seasickness, take a tablet before your tour. The cage itself is made of galvanized steel and is attached to the boat at all times. If it were to ever detach, it is strung with buoys so it will float in the case of an emergency. And most importantly, THE SHARKS CANNOT GET INTO THE CAGE!
Tip: Bring a change of dry clothing including a towel and underwear to change into after your dive. Since there are limited private changing areas, I recommend for women to wear a whole piece bathing suit under their clothing so that changing into the wetsuit in front of all the other passengers isn’t an uncomfortable experience.
The average cost of a shark cage diving tour is R1600 (about $136 USD) per adult. If you want your dive recorded by a professional videographer, you can choose to do so and pay a little extra for the memories. I brought my GoPro with a head strap and caught my dive on film.
All in all, I am inclined to say that shark cage diving in South Africa, one of the world’s best destinations to see Great Whites, is a must-do if you find yourself in Cape Town or Grootbos Nature Reserve. The thrill of seeing these amazing creatures up close is unlike any other, except for maybe Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.
If you’ve been shark cage diving in South Africa, tell us about it! Leave us a comment below.
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Theresa Stafford Grantsays:
I spent 2 weeks with Marine Dynamics as a volunteer on Slashfin. I loved it. Shark Alley is fantastic. Their whale watching boat The Whale Whisper was fun, also. I preferred the cage diving over the whale watching as I love great whites and it is much more exciting. I have also done cage diving at Seal Island with Apex Shark Expeditions and Shark Explorers. I loved both places, however, Seal Island has a special allure and charm for me. For breaching predations Seal Island in the early morning is the best in the South African winter months. For cage diving I prefer Shark Alley. The Western Cape is spectacular.
Hi Theresa, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!