Diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa
If you have ever dreamed of a diving vacation that is exciting, unforgettable, extreme and absolutely fabulous in the scariest possible way then nothing could fit the criteria better than diving with the Great White Sharks in South Africa. Here it is possible to turn the dream into a reality.
Cage diving with white sharks is a relatively new sport but is big business in South Africa, and there are many different tour operators located along the coast between Capetown and Gansbaai who provide packages for this amazing sport.
Some of the better know operators are,
The Best Locations
Dyer Island is referred to as the Great White Shark capital of the world, it is home to a resident population of 60,000 fur seals, a favorite food for great whites. The waters between Dyer Island and the town of Gansbaai are known as shark alley. Located about 50 miles south of Capetown the trip can be made in about two hours by car. En route you will pass the town of Hermanus which is known as one of the best whale watching locations in South Africa.
Once you have booked with your chosen dive operator your adventure will begin. You will be taken by boat to the area between Dyer Island and Gansbaai, or False Bay where great whites are known to congregate and feed. Here the crew will use chum and fish heads to attract the sharks. Once the crew knows that they have successfully attracted one or more sharks, divers will be allowed to enter the caged enclosure. The cages are constructed of 12 mm galvanized steel bars and there have been no fatalities to date so you are relatively safe. Divers breath through an umbilical chord connected to the boat, up to six divers can be in a cage at one time, normally one of the divers will be a crew member. The sharks feed at the surface so the cage remains positioned at the surface alongside the boat. The crew remain in contact with divers in the cage at all times in case any of the divers wish to get back on board.
One of the few places on earth where divers can see Great White Sharks up close is in South Africa. Great whites can only be seen in the wild as they do not live in captivity. During the dive, it is possible to spend hours in the presence of these powerful, graceful and yes, somewhat intimidating animals. You can see how they swim, feed, interact with each other and glory in their freedom.
Viewing the Sharks
If you want to see the sharks but are not yet ready to enter the cage you can still view the sharks from the boat, most of the tours will have people on board who are happy to see the great whites without having to enter the cage and the boats are set up for deck side viewing as well, this also means that you can do the trip with family and friends, some of whom may not be divers, and still get some amazing photographs of the sharks at the surface as well. Watching the chumming and baiting is an exciting experience in itself. Each boat has a captain, crew and dive master. and they will let you know if you are able to enter the enclosure.
The Time of Year
The best time of year to take your Great White Shark Diving adventure is between May and October. During this time the success rate of seeing the sharks is much higher. The cold spells and gales during the winter are unpredictable so the tours are weather dependent so take account of this in your planning. You could make the journey in summer but it is important to realize that there is a possibility you may not be successful in a sighting.
The diving operators who provide these adventures have excellent records regarding safety. They are experienced and excel in their abilities. Many of the tour operators include transport from Capetown and back, plus drinks and meals, but check this before booking.
During the boat trip you also have the chance to see whales, penguins and seals depending on the time of year you go. This is not the typical vacation where you stay in a hotel and experience the nightlife and shops of the area. This is an experience designed to provide a dash of excitement, a little adventure, and memories to last a lifetime.
The options will vary depending on which operator you choose for your dive and the number of occupants allowed into the cage will depend upon the size and type of boat. The boats vary from large catamarans with more than enough space to relax before suiting up, to smaller single hull vessels. It goes without saying that only certified divers are allowed in the cage and only crew members will be outside or on top of it during the dive.
Getting to South Africa
If you are a resident of the United States or Canada and have a passport, you do not need a visa to travel to South Africa provided your stay will be for less than ninety days. Your travel documents must be valid for thirty days longer than your intended stay. There must be two blank pages in your passport for the Embassy to affix their seal and for your departure stamp. Then all you need to do is make a reservation for your flight to begin your amazing adventure.