Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

Shark cage diving is one of those things you see on National Geographic and think, “Wow, those people are insane.” While that well may be, but did you know that you don’t have to be a professional to get close to a great white? Shark cage diving in South Africa is an activity that really anyone can do! Once you get over the fear of being eaten alive, it is actually quite fun.

Great white shark south africa

Where To Go

A few hours’ drive south of Cape Town is the small town of Hermanus. Hermanus is the epicenter of the shark cage diving business in South Africa. Tourists and professionals alike come to the town to dive. In addition to being a tourist destination, there is also actual research going on that is meant to help the great white sharks. Their population is threatened and, while they don’t receive as much attention as the similarly threatened (but cuter) penguins, great white sharks are still vital to the surrounding area.

great white shark south africa

We chose to dive with Marine Dynamics, which is located in Gans Baai, about 30 minutes south of Hermanus. They were fantastic! 

The Boat Ride

The ride out to the dive location was fast and fun! The waves were high but things settled down a bit by the time we got to the exact location – right next to Dyer Island. As we anchored alongside another boat, they shut the engine. We gently bobbed up and down while waiting to suit up.

Shark Diving cage south africa

The Gear

The water is cold-ish but I was given a wet suit, goggles and a weight belt. There was no SCUBA gear. This differed quite a bit from my expectation. I had envisioned a cage thrown into the middle of the open ocean that would be accosted by sharks from all directions. However, the cage was attached to the boat. The top of the cage remained out of the water – so even while the cage was closed, you could still stick your head above water to breathe. This setup made the entire experience more relaxed.

Shark Diving getting out of cage South Africa Gans Baai

The Dive

Everyone who wanted to dive was split into 3 groups. We would take turns in the cage with each group taking about 10-15 minutes, which is really quite enough time with a shark.

shark fin great white south africa

The top of the cage had a small section that opened up so that a group of 5-8 divers can climb in. Once in the cage, I tucked my toes under a bar by the bottom of the cage to submerge myself under water. We were instructed to never stick our hands outside of the cage (…). A member of the crew threw chum into the water (gross fishy parts) while another crew member repeatedly tossed out a seal-shaped piece of wood on a rope. The idea was that the shark would mistake it for an actual seal. It seemed like a lofty goal at the time, but everything worked out.

Shark Diving cage South Africa Gans Baai

Seeing the sharks swimming up to us one after another was amazing! It was terrifying, but at the same time I felt safe. We saw 11 sharks with the longest measuring at over 12 feet long! Not a bad day indeed.

Shark Diving South Africa Gans Baai

I would absolutely recommend shark cage diving to anyone going to South Africa – trust me, you will not be scared! It is not an super expensive activity (about $130) but the memories will stick with you forever. If you go with a friend, don’t dive together. One person can take photos from the boat while the other is in the cage. It is also worth borrowing or investing in a GoPro. We had ours with our waterproof case and I got some great shots. I ended up just holding it the entire time rather than affixing it to myself. If you’d like to see the footage, it is heavily featured in our recap video of South Africa and Namibia here:

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