Where to Dive with Sharks in Capetown, South Africa

Where to Dive with Sharks in Capetown, South Africa

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!

Ethics

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.

Photo Credit to Henirich Du Pleiss of Shark Tank Unlimited

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?

4:00AM:

Pick-Up (or around that time depending where you’re accommodation is and who else is on your route)

God, I smiled for the photo because it was SO EARLY. 

6:30AM:

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.scrambled-eggs-940587_960_720.jpg

7:30AM:

Our boat was a little late, but we we’re on our way soon enough.

8:00AM:

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.

10:00AM:

After a couple of hours (or depending on the sharks), we headed back.

12:00PM:

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’m a frequent scuba diver, and I do believe in tipping the ship crew for a job well done. I’ve been with absolutely terrible dive instructors/crew and it ruins the whole trip no matter what you see. Completely optional, but I think attitude and safety makes all the difference.

3:00PM:

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).

Tips and Things I wish I had Known

  1. This is a given but sleep early and pack your things before, especially if you were like me and are staying in a hostel. No one wants to be “that girl” that wakes up the entire room at 3:30AM.
  2. Have some sea-sickness pills on hand. It didn’t occur to me until the night before when it was too late to get any from the pharmacy but luckily my roommate Gian gave me a couple of hers just in case.
  3.  Go to the bathroom before you get on the boat. It’s a long time before you get access to a proper toilet. For anyone who doesn’t dive, you can’t pee in your wetsuit; the neoprene actually keeps the liquid inside the suit as much as possible until you take it off and no crew member wants to deal with that.
  4. Try to schedule the shark tank dive as early as possible on your trip. This excursion is very weather dependant. And most companies will actually allow you to reschedule the trip if you’ve paid the deposit of if you don’t see any sharks. I put this to the end of my trip and was super lucky to have a beautiful day, but I had friends who did the same thing a few days earlier and got on the boat only to see nothing. They couldn’t reschedule because they were flying out the next day. Be conscious of your schedule!
  5. It’s cold. I went in June, and I’m from Canada. It’s cold, yo.

Overall, I don’t think I could have asked for a better day shark cage diving. Thank you Shark Tank Unlimited!

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