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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! 

shark cage diving
Shark Cage Diving

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.

TOP-TIP: Book online in advance and don’t risk it being sold out! You can book with the same guys as me HERE!

cage diving with great white sharks
Cage diving with Great White Sharks – our first glimpse!

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!).

shark cage diving
shark cage diving

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. 

Shark cage diving
Shark cage diving

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.

Cage Diving With Great White Sharks
Our boat for the day while we went Cage Diving With Great White Sharks

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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30 thoughts on “Shark Cage Diving With Great White Sharks in Cape Town, South Africa

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  4. Hi all, you might not believe me, but anytime you’re in the sea (anywhere in the world) you are swimming with sharks! I’m a scuba diver and know what the true story is. Of course some places have more sharks than others, but they are shy animals and so try not to come close to anything ‘foreign’. Only scuba divers get a glimpse of them around us. A swimmer on the surface would never know they were there!
    In South Africa, we are accustomed to diving within sight of ragged-tooth sharks, black tips and hammer heads! (No shark cage necessary). The Tiger sharks and Whites are out there, but you generally need to be a spear diver (with fish) to have lured them close enough to see!
    I do admit though, that I would prefer to be in a cage if a Great Whites came right up to me! S

  5. Hey Johnny,
    Great post here, it brought me a smile to my face. Adrenaline is very high when you parachute, bungee jump or fall off the boat while rafting, but having the Great White face to face with only a thin piece of iron separating both of you (it didn’t look too strong) is unforgettable.
    I did it back in 2007 in Gaansbai (couple of hours drive from CPT) and it was way cheaper – think around 100 bucks. I tried to repeat it last summer during the WC but it got cancelled due to rough weather. Oh well, I’ll have to come back soon then 🙂
    Keep going,

  6. I can’t believe you did this!! I’m so jealous! I have wanted to do this for about 15 years!! I also wanted to skydive…I did that last yr in NZ and it scared the berjesus out of me… so now not sure I want to dive with the sharks.. big kiss, stay safe xx

    1. so much fun and not half as scary as sky diving i assure u of that! get ur flites booked ms powling, i know you’d love this 🙂

  7. I loved South Africa and the cage dive was the cherry on the top! Your photos look much better than mine — very cloudy water conditions on the day we went out. For anyone going — don’t forget your motion sickness pills. Half out boat had their heads over the side for the bulk of the day — and they weren’t staring at the sharks…


    1. so true on the sickness pills, that’s one crazy ride huh!? I found that all over South Africa on boats actually, even just nipping over to Robben Island from Cape Town was very bumpy :S still undoubtedly worth the ride tho

  8. I can’t wait to do this in CT this year! My heart beats faster just reading this story but I think it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Which company did you do the trip with and were they sustainably-focused?

    1. hey Rebecca, i can’t remember the company i’m afraid but i booked it through the biggest/most famous hostel in cape town (longstreet backpackers) so if u go there, they can get u up to speed. The industry runs into issues with conservation bodies quite regularly but i must admit i had no idea it was a contentious issue until i started researching it AFTER i had done it :S I guess it’s a personal choice at the end of the day. Keep me posted with ur dive (if u do it)!

  9. How many years has it been since Jaws came out, and I’m still too freaked to swim in the ocean, let alone get that close to a shark!

  10. holy cow you did it! like jack and jill i live in the bay area and it costs SO much more here with no guarantee. but i’d love to make myself do it. MAKE MYSELF being the operative words 🙂 were you scared before?! on a 1-10 scale, 10 being out of your mind afraid of sharks (as in, you think about them in swimming pools) how scared of them were you before doing this? you may have guessed i’m at least a 9 😉

    1. lol Lorna, to be honest i’m not too scared of sharks. The whole getup is really professional though, you know what? it’s scarier standing on the tiny boat with the sharks swimming around you than it is in the cage – weird i know, but true! Still, what’s life with fear right?! just don’t let it get the better of u!

      1. okay i can believe that a little because of our “jaws” culture (we saw them swimming around boats then jump up and…!)and you’re spot on about fear, so i’m going to do it. i’m saying it here now. thanks johnny! if i can get naked with hundreds of strangers for 2 days, i should be able to take a dunk with sharks, right? did you read about that? okay, maybe not quite the same 😉

        1. yeah i did! that’s so awesome, congrats on having the confidence to do it! sure if u can do that, this will be a breeze 🙂

    1. yeah, in south australia mate – i looked at it last year when i was there. I think it’s around $500 there :S With the strength of the aussie dollar, that is now one very expensive country!

  11. What a fantastic experiences (including your article about the mountain gorillas)!!!! really impressed of what you making out of your travels.

    1. The countdown until your departure is getting closer every second mate, it’s all in front of you! just keep ticking off those days 🙂

  12. Wow, that’s really awesome!! We have a company doing this off the San Francisco Bay, but sighting is not guaranteed. What happens if you don’t see any sharks?

    1. if you don’t see any you get another trip free the following day but it’s supposed to have the highest coastal concentration of Great White’s in the world (so they say) and the most of the companies have a 99%+ hit rate

  13. How freakin’ cool is that Johnny? I’ve been swimming with sharks also, but it was in a tank, not in a cage so it was a totally different experience. I can only imagine the adrenaline rush you would experience in a cage!

    1. i think i was experiencing more fear than adrenaline to be honest elle! lol it was really amazing, i couldn’t help thinking what would happen if i fell in :S

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