Shark Cage Diving With Great White Sharks in Cape Town, South Africa
I spent 2 weeks in South Africa, and without doubt Cape Town was my favourite spot. It was my hop-off spot for my epic 6 months Cape Town to Cairo overland trip, but it’s also the coolest place to hang out when you’re in South Africa. It’s also one of the few places in the world you can go shark cage diving with Great White Sharks. Yup!
Where can you go cage diving with Great White Sharks?
Although most shark cage diving trips leave from Cape Town, it’s not actually in Cape Town where you do the activity. Cage diving with great white sharks is actually done from Gansbaai (Gans Bay). It’s 2.5 hours drive south, about 185km from Cape Town. It’s easily done as a day trip from Cape Town though, so no stress there.
How much does it cost to go shark cage diving in Cape Town, South Africa?
Prices have actually come down since I did it. Now, if you book online in advance, you can pay as little as $100 for each shark diving experience. That fee will include pick-up from your accommodation, drive to Shark Alley in Gansbaai (about 3 hours drive), breakfast, boat fees, all equipment required and a drive back to your hostel.
Are you guaranteed to see Great White Sharks when you go shark cage diving in Cape Town?
In a word, no. The group that went the day before me didn’t see any, but we saw so many that people began to get bored going in the cage (believe it or not!). You have about a 90% chance, and normally operators will let you come the next day for free if you didn’t see any on your trip (so leave a day free!).
Is Shark Cage Diving Ethical?
In South Africa, sharks are designated as ‘marine tourism species’, meaning legally controlled tourism activities minimize disturbances and prohibit the animals from being impaired or injured. This does not mean, however, that every single cage diving operation is ethically run. If you’re dubious about it, like with all animal-driven activities, then it’s better to steer clear.
What is the Great White Shark Cage Diving Experience actually like?
You get picked up from your hotel around 7am, the drive then takes about 3 hours. You get a safety briefy, and an explanation, then you hop on the boat, suit-up with the rest of the group and sail out to sea.
To set the record straight – no scuba diving skills necessary here, you don’t even get a snorkel near your face. The way this crazy game works is – you go out on the open sea, a cage is attached to your boat, the staff coax the sharks in, once the awesome creatures are spotted 3 people jump in the open-topped cage, as the staff lure the sharks right by the cage you simply submerge yourself, hold your breath and have a look right down their throats! You’ll be wearing a wetsuit and a mask.
The sharks get to within inches of your face, to the extent that if you were so inclined you could quite easily stick your arm of the cage and say goodbye to it forever (not recommended). I cannot stress the amazement I experienced during my afternoon on the water. From the first silver glimpse you catch of the shark when it approaches the boat, to staring it in the eye from less than a meter, my heart was racing and I had a smile from ear to ear throughout the day.
We had 6 or 7 Great Whites come up to the boat and I was in the cage on 3 separate occasions which was more than enough for me. Get yourself to South Africa and see for yourself, Jaws will never be the same again.
Final Thoughts On Shark Cage Diving With Great White Sharks
When I went shark cage diving, it was before I gave up meat, and the ethics never crossed my mind. Older and wiser, I’m still not sure. South Africa is a country struggling, and they need tourist dollars. So in that respect, it’s helpful. Also, they don’t harm the sharks, so again, nothing wrong. The only potential issue would be the sharks association with humans and food. So if that bothers you, I respect that. For me, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it. And looking back, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Face to face with an apex predator. Wowzer.
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