The adrenaline rush I felt great white shark cage diving in South Africa was like no other. The great white shark is one of the top predators in the world and it's believed there are only 5,000 alive today, so coming face to face with a few of them was exhilarating! If you're considering going shark cage diving in Gansbaai, South Africa (two hours from Cape Town), here is what you can expect.
Great White Shark Cage Diving Video
Shark Cage Diving Starts Early
The shark adventure begins in the morning and takes place in Gansbaai, South Africa, which is internationally known for its large population of great white sharks. In fact, 2,000 of the 5,000 great white sharks are believed to be in South Africa. If you've watched Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, they filmed here. Anyway, the shark excursion starts early in the morning. My husband and I arrive at the Great White Shark Project building just before 7 am for a brief introduction to the dive, then we head onto the boat for a 20-minute ride to Dyer Island. This area draws hundreds (or more) of great white sharks because they like to snack on the large population of seals that live there.
The crew anchors the boat as we suit up in wetsuits (complete with hoods and booties), a snorkel mask, and a weighted belt to help us stay underwater. Next, the crew throws a rubber seal decoy into the ocean and begins chumming the waters. An enormous fish's head is the main bait. Ew.
First Great White Shark Sighting
Then the waiting game begins. The water is super cold so we wait on the boat for a shark to come near us before jumping in. After about 20-25 minutes a great white shark jumps out of the water right by our boat! It is bananas! Next thing you know, the crew is calling for the first group of six people (including my husband and me) to hurry up and get into the cage.
Into the Cage
We hang out in the cage for about five minutes before the crew yells, "down, down, down!" That's our cue to grab onto the cage, pull ourselves underwater, and look for a shark. During our 30-minute cage dive, we see not one but four different great white sharks! The sharks come close enough to the cage that you can reach out and touch one (obviously, don't do that!).
By the looks on our face, you can tell it was a thrilling experience, and also that we are weirdos. 🙂 Check out this video to see the underwater GoPro footage I captured while shark cage diving in South Africa.
If You Go Shark Cage Diving
- Prepare for cancellations - Shark cage dives are often canceled due to the weather. In fact, that happened to us. If possible, plan for a make-up day during your vacation, so you have time to reschedule.
- Set your alarm clock - Cage dives often start early in the morning. If you are staying in Cape Town, it will take about two hours to get to Gansbaai, so it's ideal to stay in the area the night before the dive.
- Prepare for seasickness - A lot of people get seasick on these trips, so you might consider motion sickness tablets before you get on the boat.
- Towels & showers are available - In addition to providing wetsuits and snorkel masks, most companies will provide towels and a shower.
- Dive with a reputable company - Our travel agent arranged our dive with the White Shark Projects, which seems to be an organized, knowledgeable, and ethical company. We had a good experience with them. We've also heard good things about Marine Dynamics, which has a registered trust for research, conservation, and education.
If you like animal adventures, be sure to check out my experience meeting elephants in Thailand!
Also, let's connect on Instagram with my travel account: @lizzyfaytravels!