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Holding your breath as a great white passes in front of you is a sharp thrill rarely matched outside a steel cage submerged in South African waters. And, Cape Town, and some nearby coastline, is THE place to make your super predator dreams come true. Even if you dont get in the water, watching the chunky shadows snake up the chum trail gets your heart beating faster than you thought possible.  

Yes, you might experience a fear like youve never felt before. But expect nothing less from a primal and evolutionarily perfect hunting machine. And when youre done? The sheer exhilaration at having shared the same waters with a 3 – 4 metre beast will keep you on an endorphin high until sunset. The bonus DVD some tours offer is a nice touch too. Dont watch Jaws before you sail, take your seasickness pills and keep your arms inside the cage 

The sharks

Most of you will be here for the Great Whites. Whether youve been glued to Air Jaws on the Discovery channel or cant look at the ocean without thinking Youre gonna need a bigger boat, Cape Towns the place to see them (more on that later). But, if youre experienced in the open water, you can also spend time in the company of bronze whalers, blue sharks and mako sharks. And, when the dive company tells you youre going to get close to these sharks, believe them.  

Great whites are nosey types that arent too shy to inspect the cage youre in. Blues and makos? These bold scamps – that can be up to 4.5 metres of solid muscle – often like to bump into divers and their cameras. Nerves of steel arent optional in Cape Towns waters. On the cuter end of the shark spectrum, shark diving trips close to Cape Town occasionally get visits from chilled and chubby broadnose sevengill cow sharks.  

Cape Town great white shark
Cape Town False Bay

Where and when to see them

First up, it helps to know before you go that you dont really go shark cage diving in Cape Town, as such. Gansbaai and Hermanus are the ocean life hot spots – but theyre only 1.5 – 2 hours away by car. If youre keen to stay local, there are cage diving options in Cape Town – but youre still looking at a 45 minute drive to Simons Town. From there youll be headed to False Bay – the stunning spot where the Air Jaws and Discovery crew film those famous breach shots. As for when to go, weve got great news. You can see sharks year round from Gansbaai. Cage diving trip sightings do vary by season though. For big numbers, youll want to be watching the chum slick like a hawk from June to September, though that is South Africas winter. January through to March – Cape Towns summer – is the low season. Though you can still expect to see a few sharks in the water.

Orbzii Tips: If youre wondering whether all that travel is worth it, you dont just get to see sharks in these locations. In Simons Town you can chill out with 2,500 African penguins on Boulders Beach. Hermanus is THE place for whale watching – in season you can see the whales from the shore. And Gansbaai is the shark capital, with the best options for multiple shark spots. 

Cape Town’s Shark Diving Companies

Sharklady Adventures
(Gansbaai / Kleinbaai)

Kim – the Sharklady – MacLean has been passionate about sharks, and great whites, for decades. One of the first to tag South Africas great whites, she was also the first to get people in the water with the fearsome fish. Well connected – youll see quite the lineup of famous faces on the walls in the office – the Sharklady has used her shark powers for good. Chairing the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, her tours are as much about education as they are adrenaline boosting dives. Her boat is small – and so are group numbers. Great for getting close as can be to the sharks – and thats before you get in the water. Kims team dish out a basic brekkie before you sail – and warm you up with soup when you get back.

Cape Town shark lady adventures
Facebook @sharkladyadventures

Cost: Special offers start at R800 per person (~£37) – prices usually come in at ~R1600  

Orbzii Tips: Cage diving can be a misleading title. With this group youre in the cage and hold your breath to go underwater. This is due to sharks being put off by scuba bubbles etc. And while yes, the tour does include a breakfast. Its basic food designed to line the stomach to help with seasickness. 

Cape Town great white shark tours
Facebook @GreatWhiteSharkTours

Great White Shark Tours
(Gansbaai / Kleinbaai)

If the small boat tours are tipping you towards bigger boat territory, hop aboard the Apex Predator. Specifically designed for shark cage diving – it also benefits from a flushing loo, changing room and some protection from the sea spray on the journey to the shark grounds. Tour numbers can reach as a high as 40 – so its a less intimate experience – but the larger hull should quell any seafaring nerves. At this point, its worth getting into this companys chum details – as grim as it sounds. The ingredients are a trade secret’ – with the owner taking years to perfect his recipe. What we can say is – sometimes you can be on a boat and see no sharks, meanwhile a boat in the same area is seeing sharks. Chum? Luck? Or just the random behaviour of wild animals? Who can say, but if hes that cagey about his chum – we reckon it must be good. 

Cost: R2300 / ~£105.50 – One of the pricier trips, but this comes with breakfast and light lunch – plus top notch kit, dry wetsuits and towels. 

Orbzii Tip: Though they offer two prices, one for the full experience – wetsuit and time in the cage – and one to watch only. We recommend paying for the full experience – and deciding when youre at sea if you want to sit the dive out. Changing, getting in and out of the cage, and getting warm again afterwards, means you miss out on the above the water action. To see the most sharks, sometimes youre better off viewing from the boat. But an extra £9 to avoid dive FOMO is worth it. 

African Shark Eco-Charters (Simon’s Town)

Another big name in the shark business is Rob Lawrence. Working with Cape Towns sharks since the late 80s, Robs in demand. His Simons Town operation has been used by Discovery, the BBC, Animal Planet and National Geographic to get some unique footage. All fancy enough – but what about the tours? Top. Notch. Enthusiastic reviews, online accolades and they are the only shark cage diving company in Cape Town to offer scuba dives in their cages. Their boat is small but sturdy – so youll be viewing sharks with up to 18 other people max. The best bit? Youll be headed to Seal Island. From May to August, this is the place to witness the impressive breaches this part of the world in renowned for. As for that eco nod in the name. Its backed up with an environmental policy and a do no harm approach to all tours.

Cape Town African shark tours
Instagram @africansharkeco_charters

Cost: R1650 / ~£76 

Orbzii Tip: Seen the seals and fancy getting closer? This company offer seal snorkelling trips where you can expect the more playful members of the colony to frolic in the water with you. 

Planning your trip

Shark diving is among Cape Towns top attractions – but its worth noting a few things before you jet out to see the white pointer in the flesh. Numbers are in decline off the coasts here. Although protected, the sharks food supply hasnfared as well. In an intriguing twist, Cape Town also has a couple of notorious orcas who have been suspected of preying on the smaller sharks. All of which is not to put you off cage diving in Cape Town, just plan accordingly. If youre flying here specifically to see a species, book your shark cage dive early in your trip. Weather could postpone your excursion – and if you dont see a shark you can book another dive during your stay. 

Sea bands and nautical-themed outfits in the suitcase? Lets get you within touching distance of a great white sharpish with the Orbzii app. Dream, plan and book – but dont touch – your shark trip today.