Great White Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

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Gasping for air I plunged under to see the massive Great White Shark heading right towards me. I quickly tucked my feet under the lower bar that’s placed there to hold you under the water keeping in mind to keep my hands and feet in the cage at all times.

Not only could messing this up result in the loss of a said appendage, but it would also result in the cage being pulled and heading back to shore.

Just two hours from Cape Town, just off the coast of Gansbaai, is a place called Shark Alley. This area is known around the world for its heart beating, stomach-turning, nerve twinging encounters with Great White Sharks. While it can be done in a couple of other places in the world, this is the best place in the world to shark cage dive.

We were picked up in Cape Town at 4:30 AM and driven to Gansbaai. After finishing our coffee we all boarded the White Shark Diving Co boat and found our seats.

If the thought of jumping into a cage with sharks swarming doesn’t get your stomach going, the boat ride out to the dive site will for sure. Even with a nice morning, the waves were rocking and rolling. Some of the waves were easily over 10-foot swells and half of our boat was seasick within minutes.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Southern Africa (Travel Guide). 

Gansbaai South Africa Sunrise
Sunrise over Gansbaai

Enroute to the dive site the crew prepared the chum and the seahawks started to swarm our boat. Knowing they would get a tasty treat they would try so hard to keep up with the boat as we crashed through the waves.

Our crew would hold their hands out with pieces of fish up in the air and they would swoop down, picking the chunks out of their hands.

The chum puts an oil slick across the surface of the ocean that alerts the sharks and brings them to the boat. The staff throws in a blood/fish part mixture into the water. To be clear, this is not feeding and they are not getting large pieces of meat.

The large tuna head that’s on the main chum line is not fresh and never during the dive encounter does the staff allow the sharks to take the bait line.

We split off into three groups of four people, and the captain asked which group was ready. I quickly jumped up and began preparing to get into the cage. Lina gave me that typical look, the “thanks Dave for volunteering us first” look.

With our hearts beating in our throats we climbed into the frigid waters of the ocean. The water was cold, probably some of the coldest water I have felt in years.

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Great White Shark Cage Diving South Africa

Rules of Shark Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

Don’t hang your feet or hands out of the cage.

Things are monitored strictly.

Safety is the main concern. They do not want an accident and if an accident does occur it will be detrimental to all cage diving in Africa.

We had a main safety briefing before boarding the boat. In this briefing, they explained everything that was going to happen from the time we step on the boat till we’re all the way back onshore.

All of this was repeated twice to ensure everyone understood the rules surrounding this risky venture.

We spent 17 weeks Overlanding from Cape Town to Cario. Oasis Overland Trip Through Africa – What to Expect

Great White Shark Cage Diving South Africa

Getting in the water with Great White Sharks

Being in the cage is a surge but it is also chaotic. I am not sure the breath-holding method is the best way to experience the sharks, but it is what we had to do.

Once in the cage the crew would act as spotters and warn you when the sharks would come near the cage. They would shout “Get down!” and you would take a breath and stick your head in the water to view the sharks.

Related Article:  The Best GoPro Accessories for Adventure Travel

Throughout our dive we hard three large great white sharks playing with us. One even slammed into the cage fitting the top part of his mouth through the cage.

The wave just happens to take the cage right into the shark pushing the middle two divers to the far back of the cage. This was one of those wow moments and also one of those moments where we needed to check out swim trunks.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Southern Africa (Travel Guide). 

Great White Shark Cage Diving South Africa

All places in the cage are good but where are the best for photos? I found the far left in the cage to be the best for photos because they like to circle around the back of the boat. Being on this site you could see them coming.

This would be the first person in and the last to get out. The middle was a little hard to see sharks coming from the sides but it gave us the best head-on views. It really did not matter where we have placed the views of the sharks coming into the cage was amazing.

After our first dive, we both stumbled out of the cage wide-eyed and excited. We welcomed the provided drinks, snacks, towels and headed to the front of the boat to see the view from the top of the water.

The view from the surface was even better than below as we had a shark jump out of the water right in front of the cage, something we wouldn’t have had a good view of from the cage. We got a total of two cage dives that lasted ten minutes each. Each dive had lots of shark action.

Book You’re South Africa Shark Cage Dive Today With Our Friends

Great White Shark South Africa

Choosing A Company

We went out with White Shark Diving Co and have nothing but positive things to say about our experience. The staff is seasoned and has all been with the company for many years. They are professional and know the area.

Lastly, they are passionate about their jobs and the Great White Sharks. They are a wealth of information and can tell you just about anything you could care to know about the sharks.

There is nothing like viewing great white sharks in the wild. This is a great experience for anyone who loves viewing nature along with getting a heart beating adventure.

Go with a company who is not just looking to push people in and out of the water, go with a company that is looking to get you close and into the water but also teach you about these amazing creatures.

Looking for other adventures? Check out Cape Town to Nairobi- Must Have Adventures

Great White Shark Breaching South Africa

Facts About the Great White Shark

Great White Sharks are one of the most misunderstood animals on our planet. While they are a fierce predator when you enter their domain, they are not an animal that should be viewed so negatively. We learned a lot about them during our visit to South Africa and wanted to spread some positive facts with you as well.

The white shark is a macro-predator meaning it will prey on anything the same size as itself or smaller.

The white shark is a scavenger and will take second prey including trash, handouts and off fishing lines.

The white shark cannot produce body fat and is composed of skin, muscle, and cartilage.

The white shark regulates its body temperature at a constant 25’C regardless of the surrounding water temperature.

Great White Shark Cage Diving South Africa

The jaw of the white shark is not fully attached to the skull and is highly flexible. It is them ost efficient cutting instrument of any living creature.

They are unchallenged masters of all they survey.

The Great White Shark is one of the ocean’s most ferocious predators- yet it is an extremely vulnerable species that has almost been hunted into extinction thanks to the negative publicity and hyped Hollywood movies like JAWS.

Only about 30% of people bitten by sharks die- usually due to blood loss or victims drowning before rescue teams arrive.

One great white shark weighs around 1200kg and the females are bigger than males.

Great White Sharks are a protected species in several countries, including South Africa.

Great White Shark Cage Diving South Africa

One reason for low numbers is slow reproduction. Females take up to 15 years to mature and have only a couple of pups in their lifetime.

White sharks are intelligent and natural learners but they cannot be trained by human contact.

A day out on the water in the presence of the great white shark is a memory that will last a lifetime if you can muster up the courage to hop in that cage. For us, it was a great adventure that we wouldn’t hesitate to do again.

What to take with on a Shark Cage Dive in South Africa

Most importantly bring your swimsuit/bathing costume along with an extra pair of clothing to change into after. We love our rash guards, they are something every traveler should have.

We recommend some warm clothes – even in summer, it can get chilly at sea. You will be cold jumping in and out of the water.

Sea Sickness Pills or Bands. Almost the whole boat will be sick, some people will not even get into the water because they will get sick.

Waterproof Backpack

Waterproof Bags for Camera/Phone/Etc.

Beach Towels (They will give you one but it is better to have your own. Everyone’s towels will look the same and they all will be wet.)

Waterproof Camera

Camera (We carry the Canon 6d DSLR camera with Canon 24-105L lens.)

Portable USB External Battery Charger Power Bank (We do not go on any adventure without ours!)

Sunscreen

Lip Balm

Water Bottle, Fill up right out of the tap or even out of rivers with Lifestraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1,000 Liter Lifestraw Filter.

Sunglasses

We like and use: Costa Polarized Sunglasses and Suncloud Polarized Sunglasses.

Sun-Hat

Day Bag (We love our PackSafe Venturesafe X30 backpack because it locks up 100%)

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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.



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7 thoughts on “Great White Shark Cage Diving in South Africa”

  1. This is awesome. I’m more of a “feet up on a lounge chair” kind of traveler but if I had an adventure bucket list, this would certainly be on it. I’d be scared as …….. but would love to experiences this.

    Reply
    • I won’t lie, it’s a thrilling and terrifying adventure to undertake! But it’s EPIC. I am scared of sharks but seeing those massive Great White Sharks up close like that was simply amazing. So much respect for those incredible animals!

      Reply
  2. Courageous!
    We’re in Cape Town right now and have had a few people mention that we should do this – but water activities not my thing and I wonder if I’d get a heart attack seeing the jaws of a Great White up close. How long was your experience and how much did it cost? Just curious…
    Don’t think I would do it though 😉
    Frank (bbqboy)

    Reply
    • It is definitely a scary thing!!! My heart was pumping hard the whole time but it was so worth the fear. Such a cool experience to see them so close! Even if you don’t get in the cage, just seeing them from the boat was amazing!Our trip lasted most of the day, its a long drive from Cape Town to Gansbaai, so started at like 4am and was back in Cape Town by 3-4pm or so. Cost R1450 for the dive and R350 for round trip transport from Cape Town.

      Reply
  3. Hi Dave,
    Wow great work on this post. Thanks for writing it. Brought some memories back of a study abroad I did over 10 years ago. While out in South Africa did this trip and it was incredible. The tour that we did was quite similiar though I’m a bit fuzzy with the details.

    This experience is truly incredible. Though we didn’t have any of the sharks banging around I could only imagine what that would be like. Anyone that’s ever done a Shark Week marathon should check this place out.

    My own experience was quite tame and the sharks kind just swam around and in front of the cage but I felt self-conscious of sticking my arm or feet out. There’s so much finesse and power displayed in these giant water creatures.

    Will have to go back one day and take my wife on a trip there! Hope the rest of South Africa treated yall well!

    Thanks again!

    Love from the Philippines,
    Mark and Camille

    Reply

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