Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai – Gansbaai, South Africa - Atlas Obscura

Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai

Gansbaai, South Africa

An odd little fishing town that is inundated by tourists looking to be locked up in a cage and surrounded by great white sharks, because why not? 


With shark attacks epitomizing the stuff of nightmares, it somehow comes as no surprise that tourists will gladly pay to get as close to that experience as possible, without actually losing a limb.

Intrigued? A typical shark cage diving excursion takes about three to five hours. You hop on the boat and are hustled away to prime shark territory near Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. It’s a rocky ride for some people, so if you have motion sickness this rocking rollicking boat could pose a problem. But you should probably tough it out because, sharks.

The boat is side anchored at the shark-infested destination and you get wet-suited up. Your boat crew will begin to chum the water and a Tuna head attached to a strong rope is thrown in the water. Soon, you’ll see the almost cartoonish dorsal fins cut through the water. Once there are a good number of the beautiful animals swimming around, you jump into the cage, which is attached to the boat, and hold your breath. There’s no breathing equipment used here, so your sighting of the shark is contingent on how long you can hold your breath underwater. That being said, you will usually only need to have your breath held for 10 to 20 seconds at a time.

After a few languid minutes of paddling around in your safety zone, you almost expect a scary background score to start playing as sharks up to 5 meters long finally take the bait and swim next to you in the cage. A cheap thrill and a sharp adrenalin rush? Yes. A close-up of nature’s incredible beauty? Yes. Smartest way to get a close-up view of the infamous ocean predator? Debatable. For the weak of heart? Definitely not.

The dives are weather dependent, so it’s a good idea to stay in Gansbaai either overnight or for a day or two. The surrounding area is beautiful and unspoiled and there are some exciting things to do. There are eight shark dive operators that are all based out of the same harbor. Southern Right Whales are plentiful from June to December, so there is always a chance that you could see them on your ride out to or back from Dyer Island.

Know Before You Go

Travel on the N2 towards Caledon and then onto the R43 past Hermanus and Stanford to Gansbaai. Travel time is approximately 2 hours from Cape Town (around 160km)

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