Although I’m scared of the dark, and have slept with a night light for as long as I can remember, I’m pretty adrenaline seeking. This has included bungee jumping, skydiving (and generally jumping out of things in general) and shark tank diving!
Now, I understand that their are many people that have different opinions about this idea in regards to responsible tourism. After talking to people who were both pro and con diving. I decided that I wanted to do it but of course it’s up to you. The way that I see it, it’s not capturing or hurting the shark, and I have friends that were studying the environmental impacts on sharks in Capetown and explained that it doesn’t endanger sharks and if anything demystifies assumptions about them. However, I also have friends that disagree. If you do, please feel free to comment below! I am in no way a shark-expert.
Is it safe?
If you too googled “is shark cage tank diving safe?” honestly it is. Of course you have to follow the rules and keep your hands and feet inside the cage as directed but other than that it’s not that dangerous, especially if you are not able to hold your breathe that long, you are not actually submerged for that long and they will tell you when the shark is approaching so your only underwater for a minute or two.
Where to go?
There are many places to dive in Capetown, but just know that the sharks are quite far from Capetown since the city is so urban and populated. So, you’re going to have to ride on the boat for a while. And since these days start early, it means quite the wake up call.
For me, after visiting Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), the ferry ride was so incredibly rocky that people were throwing up and I (a fisherman’s daughter that grew up on a boat) was getting sea sick, I wanted to avoid the Capetown waters as much as possible. I then found an alternative place to dive: Gaansbai Bay. A small town about 2 hours out of the city, it’s quite the drive, but worth it. I’d rather be 2 hours in a car than 2 hours on a rocky boat. Because the town is so out of the way, the sharks are much closer and the boat ride is only around 15-20 minutes in comparison to the hours near Capetown. The tour company will usually pick you up from your accommodation.
What Company Should I Use?
I used Shark Diving Unlimited and loved them. The staff was great, the crew was awesome, we saw sharks, and had a wonderful day. They were very friendly and professional and I felt 100% safe at all times.
What does the day look like?
Pick-Up (or around that time depending where you’re accommodation is and who else is on your route)
Arrival and Breakfast. Sharks Unlimited provides a delicious buffet of hot coffee and a hot breakfast including eggs and sausages and pastries (not just bread and butter!). There’s also a safety briefing that was well done, but you know food. Also, I dive on a regular, so it wasn’t anything new for me.
Our boat was a little late, but we we’re on our way soon enough.
We arrived to our location and started suiting up. Wetsuits, face masks, and dive shoes are provided so you don’t really need anything but a bathing suit. Because there are only so many places in the cage, we took turns. The crew has a bait-like buoy that is used to lure the shark closer to the cage and then you go under when it is close.
After a couple of hours (or depending on the sharks), we headed back.
You go back to the office and can purchase videos/photos. Shark Diving Unlimited was so kind to us, because of the late crew and hiccups, they actually gave them to us for free! They also provide hot showers and light snacks before heading back on the road.
I arrived back at my hostel. For the record I stayed at Ashanti Lodges (but had previously stayed at Atlantic Point which I did not like as much).