A grey fin emerging from the distance, piercing eyes and porcelain like sharp teeth are what makes Great White Sharks so menacing so what else is there to do but jump in the water and see them from behind bars whilst they circle the boat.
Great White Shark Cage Diving was number one on my list of things to do in South Africa and I’m so pleased that I got the opportunity to spend time with these incredible animals in their natural habitat.
Gansbaai is located two hours from Cape Town, this small beach town is where most of the Great White Shark Cage Diving tour operators are located. Our pick up was from our hostel at 4.15am so I spent those two hours catching up on sleep before disembarking in Gansbaai. The transfer was part of the cost but some tour operators charge extra for this so when booking do check this.
There are several different tour operators doing Great White Shark Cage Diving so it was definitely hard to choose. We ended up booking through our campsite in Cederberg as they had a really commentate rate compared to what I had seen online. The company was called White Shark Ventures.
I paid R1300 (£75) compared to R1650 what I had seen online for the exact same company, so definitely do shop around or get in touch with an agent who get special rates.
Whats included: Transfer, breakfast, boat trip, wet suit, snacks on board, four guides, lunch and transfer back to Cape Town.
Upon arrival at White Shark Ventures they served us breakfast and gave us a briefing as to what to do when you’re in the water. It was very simple, keep your hands inside the cage. It’s a no brainer! Once in the cage I did feel very secure and even though a week previous to this trip a Great White Shark had got inside a cage in Mexico I knew straight away that it was a rare occurrence.
To help people who suffer from sea sickness they provided sweets to suck on and showed people where the best spots on the boat were to sit. The water was a bit rough and unfortunately people were still sick, Sam who was in our group actually vomited on to a Great White Shark that was passing by!
We got on to the boat and went offshore for about 15 minutes, there were several boats already out there doing Great White Shark Cage Diving . No more than 6 as they are heavy restrictions as to how many boats and how many hours they can be with the sharks.
I quickly got into one of the wetsuits that was provided to be in the first cage for the morning. The wet suit was 5mm thick with a hood and I also put booties on and didn’t feel too cold once in the water.
Straight away sharks began to appear in the water around the boat and the nerves really set in. I felt extremely wary and my heart began to beat very fast. But I overcame and jumped into the cage that was already in the water and held my breath for my first dip into the underwater world.
Check out my video from my Great White Shark Cage Diving experience here to see what it’s really like in the cage
There was a man yelling “down” when a shark was right by the cage, we all held our breaths and saw a HUGE shark approaching. It came right up to the cage and then veered off to get a good look at all of us.
We all came up shouting and screaming totally overcome with the fact that we had just seen a Great White Shark but there was no time to chat as he yelled “down” again and down we went. Another shark, another and then another appeared and we were all scrambling to hold our breath and get back down to see these majestic creatures glide by us.
In the cage was four people at a time and once they felt we had seen enough another group got into the cage. During the whole experience you could get into the cage three times which I thought was fantastic.
Whilst waiting for my turn again I went to the top of the boat where you could see the action unfolding and they view up there was just as good. You could see the sharks approaching, see them move around the boat, go for the bait and it was also great to see the people in the cages reaction.
I jumped into the cage for a second go and it was even better than the first time, the biggest shark we saw that day appeared out of nowhere and went straight for the bait so I got a great look at its teeth and I was more than pleased to be in the comfort of my cage!
The Great White Sharks come to Shark Alley because there is a huge seal colony just off shore, they come here to eat before moving on. The Sharks in the area are never the same and the guides said they rarely see the same shark.
The tour companies try to be as ethical as possible but of course in order for you to get a good experience they do need to bait.
I personally really wanted to choose a company that didn’t bait but after some research and now going with a company that do bait I can see why it is not so bad.
- These sharks only spend two weeks at a time in this area called ‘Shark Alley’ so they are not getting so used to food being given to them that they don’t know how to hunt
- If you didn’t bait you wouldn’t get such a good experience as the water can be murky and unless the shark is within a metre you can’t see much underwater
- They are not taunting the sharks, they make sure they eat the bait.
I’m sure everyone has an opinion on this but I would have been gutted to have paid so much money and not seen sharks so close up.
Great White Shark Ventures was an excellent company and I really enjoyed my experience with them.