For the adventure seekers, a little excitement and thrill is always on the cards when planning their activities on their vacation. And if you’re heading to southern Africa, then shark cage diving in South Africa might be on your list of holiday activities.

Shark cage diving with great white sharks is becoming a growing trend in Cape Town. Tourists and locals simply enjoy getting close to the hunters of the sea.

If you’re thinking about going shark cage diving, there are a few safety tips you’ll need to know before making the big dive.

Shark Cage Diving in South Africa Safety Tips

  1. For first time divers the entry into the cage can be a bit overwhelming but it must be done carefully to avoid injury.
  2. The safest entry technique is to make a controlled seated entry using both your hands to guide yourself into the cage.
  3. Be aware of your equipment and hands at all times as it could get crushed between the cage and the boat.
  4. Hold onto the cage with at least one hand at all times.
  5. Never extend your body out of the cage!
  6. Consider fellow divers in the cage with you and try to avoid collisions with them by remaining calm.

Shark cage diving is a tricky activity to plan as it remains dependent on the water and weather conditions of the day. Always be prepared as sometimes weather conditions become unsafe while out at sea and dives can often be cancelled at a moment’s notice.

The best time to go great white shark cage diving in South Africa

The South African winter season from June to August is the best time to witness the breaching process but the rough sea conditions play an integral role in a successful dive. Breaching is a hunting technique of the great white shark. You can see them propel out of the ocean in pursuit of their prey. You’ll get to see one of the world’s most feared sea creature up close.

It’s one of the best experiences in South Africa, so definitely worth trying to include on your itinerary.

Best time to go shark cage diving in South Africa
Best time to go shark cage diving in South Africa

Did you know…

  • That there are actually only 5 – 10 fatal shark attacks per year worldwide?
  • But…100,000,000 sharks get killed by humans per year!
  • There are 30 fatal attacks per year from domestic dogs in the USA only!
  • 150 deaths from elephants per year
  • 400 deaths from toaster electrocution per year
  • 32% of  all shark species are threatened with extinction
  • 145 countries worldwide exchange shark products

Shark cage diving Gansbaai

A prime location to witness for shark spotting is Dyer Island near Gansbaai. There are several tours heading from Cape Town to Gansbaai for the day, otherwise you can also book accommodation in Gansbaai to stay overnight.

On a recent visit to Gansbaai in the Western Cape to visit the newly built African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, we were invited to go Shark Cage Diving with Marine Dynamics. This was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had no idea what to expect, and was completely blown away by the beauty and tranquillity of these amazing animals. You might not believe me when I say that a great white shark coming straight towards your cage with all teeth showing is tranquil, but somehow it is. It’s amazingly calm under the water.

Shark cage diving with Marine Dynamics

Marine Dynamics is part of Shark Watch SA who do great work on the protection and research of the Great White Sharks in the area. They also work with the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary in the conservation of Penguins and other marine birdlife in the area.

Gansbaai is home to much marine life. Not only are hundreds of great white sharks attracted to the bay, but there are also dolphins, whales in season, thousands of seals on Dyer Island and birdlife (including the highly endangered African Penguin). Shark Watch SA, Whale Watch SA and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary are all doing great work to conserve all of this marine life and working hard on developing further research.

If you’re interested in going Shark Cage Diving I highly recommend going with Marine Dynamics, I haven’t tried any of the other companies but Marine Dynamics definitely knew what they were doing. A marine biologist accompanies you on every trip, we had Kelly join our trip and she was full of knowledge about the sharks and happy to answer any question. I think it’s great to have someone who knows the sharks inside out, and is always looking out for the best interest of the sharks.

What to expect when going shark cage diving

You start off the morning with breakfast and quick introduction video to get a taste of what’s to come. You then all hop on the boat (Slashfin) and head out to the shark spot. We were lucky enough to pass a school of about 50 dolphins swimming around the boat on the way. When the sharks arrive you all take turns on hopping into the cage, 8 at a time for about 20 minutes at a time. You get a full wet suite but it doesn’t keep out the cold. The water is absolutely freezing in the Western Cape, so be ready for that!

Once in the cage you wait for the sharks to come past the cage then you duck under water and watch them glide past. If you’re lucky enough (or unlucky if you’re scared) a shark will come straight for the cage with their mouth wide open. I thought I’d be scared, but surprisingly it wasn’t scary at all. It was pretty cool to get so close to the sharks and see them in their natural surroundings.

After the diving you go back to the restaurant, have a hot meal and watch the video of the trip you’ve just done.

The whole trip was really educational and I walked away knowing a whole lot more about sharks and overall marine life conservation.

African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

Make sure to also pop into the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary around the corner from where you meet for the shark cage diving. The sanctuary opened its doors in February this year and is a state of the art facility that takes in injured, diseased and distressed birds to be treated and rehabilitated. 

They make sure to keep the birds in the sanctuary for the minimum amount of time, making sure that they are properly rehabilitated and able to survive again in the wild before releasing them. The African Penguin is an endangered species, so they are doing everything that they can to keep the species thriving in the area. You can stop by the sanctuary and see what birds they have at the time – you might get to see an African Penguin or another interesting seabird.

African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, South Africa
African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

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  • I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.