One of the most prominent adventure activities you are told about when you announce you are heading to South Africa is “Are you going to go Great White shark cage diving?”. More so over climbing Table Mountain, paragliding or zip lining.
After spending an incredible Christmas with my family in Cape Town we had the perfect opportunity to do it – my sisters 21st was approaching and she was just as eager as we were to dive into the water and do the ultimate adventure, getting up close with these feared animals.
An Eco Shark Cage Dive
These operations are set up to allow you to experience these amazing animals, but also to learn about why we need to conserve them. We decided to go with Marine Dynamics due to their ecotourism and conservation efforts in both the area of Kleinbaii and the sharks themselves .
The second point that really convinced us to go is that the bait is never fed to the sharks and is only used to entice them closer. The “chum” trail used is just a mixture of fish oils with no dead fish or guts that they can eat. A marine biologist is also on boat at all times sharing information about sharks as well as conservation efforts and why we need to look after these animals.
Yes we realise that the sharks are still being enticed and lured out of their natural state, but if you are going to shark cage dive do some research and pick a company that is assisting in the conservation of sharks.
What to Expect When Shark Cage Diving in South Africa
- First of all don’t expect to easily get out here, Kleinbaai is a good 2-3 hour drive out of Cape Town so unless you have a car rental (like we did) then you may need to add on the optional bus transfer.
- There is also about a half an hour (or more depending on where the sharks are) boat ride out to the spot, so if you feel sea sickness come prepared.
- Watching the sharks from above is just as thrilling as being in the cage.
- The anticipation is where the experience really shines. The nervousness and down right terrified looks on everyone (and probably yourself) is part of the trip.
- The sharks swim fast so expect quick sights as they swim past the cage.
- No scuba gear – just snorkel gear, so take you breaths quickly before the shark passes.
I won’t lie to you, during the drive over I was in shock that I would be doing this, my stomach couldn’t eat from the included buffet and my mind was off somewhere else on the cruise over to the spot to even remotely think about sea sickness.
We watched the sharks make their way over towards us, jumping into the air as the groups in front of us slowly went into the cage with just as much fear in their eyes. Our turn approached and as I reluctantly lowered myself into the chilly water I couldn’t help but feel the fear disappear and excitement take over as our first Great White Shark swam less than an arms length away. Being this close to these breathtaking animals was truly a surreal experience for me!
Is it worth it?
So after all is said and done, the fear has washed away and you are back on your trip home, is that high still there? Was it all worth it once your heart stopped racing?
This is where I have some mixed feelings, Jess on one end loved it (but has said one time is enough) and I felt a little bit disappointed. There was a lot of hype going into this experience and I think it was all up to the day and the visibility.
We unfortunately had poor visibility, around about 4 metres (potentially less) which meant that we only really saw the sharks when they were right up and near the cage. I feel like if the visibility was higher the entire time you are down there would be more thrilling, not just the moments the shark came up to the cage. This is nothing to fault the company or the location, just the day we went.
After speaking to some friends who experienced the same cage diving they also agreed with us. If you do want more of an adrenaline rush like us they recommended next time we try the open water shark diving, yep no cages! This is definitely on our list when we hopefully do return to Cape Town.
A Quick Tip
As you are on a boat with quite a few people, you will be placed in groups and called when it is your time to go inside the cage. We found that the best time to go is the 2nd dive. The first dive you may not have multiple sharks and by the third and fourth dive the sharks have slowly lost interest.
Yes as incredibly thrilling as it sounds to go up and close with these animals we thought we would take this moment to bring to you the importance of shark conservation. Until recently we were uneducated and unaware on why there is no reason for us to fear these animals at all.
In 2015 in Australia there were only 2 (yes 2) recorded fatal attacks by sharks – the country where the majority of attacks happen in the world. Flip to the other side and humans kill over 100 million sharks per year! This fantastic video by JacksGap is a great place to start as it certainly helped inspire us to look into this issue.
Book a shark cage dive experience with Marine Dynamics for R1,750 or about AUD$152 per person.
What’s the most adventurous thing you have done whilst on holiday?
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