Seeing a great white shark up close; it is possible in Gansbaai in South Africa. You descend in a cage into the water when the shark is closeby. And then you suddenly come face to face with the most dangerous predator of the sea.
Great white sharks are scary, but also intriguing. There is really only once place in the world where you can see these predators in their natural habitat. Gansbaai in South Africa is world-famous for the great whites that live there.
And… you can dive with these creatures. Or snorkel, if you don’t want to dive. Though it’s a bit closer to simply standing in a cave until the shark comes past.
Several tour operators offer boat trips to Dyer Island, which is home to thousands of fur seals. The most famous spots are Geyser Rock and Shark Alley – the names speak for themselves. There are many fur seals who live on and around Geyser Rock, which attracts the great white sharks.
What does a great white shark excursion look like?
You go out with a special zodiac (hard plastic boat). You ride to Dyers Island, where these predators like to hunt. The cage hangs on the aft deck and is not launched until a white shark is seen. Then suddenly it is rushing. You must put on the wetsuit, put on the snorkel mask, and go in the cage.
The excursion often takes all day, because you never know when a great white shark shows up. And sometimes they don’t show, at all. They are lured with food, the smell, and sight of which, in combination with rough seas, can make some people feel (sea)sick.
Be prepared for some hectic moments when the shark starts circling the boat. You’ll have to quickly get into your wetsuit and then into the cage. Because the shark can swim away again anytime.
The water is cold, but visibility is usually quite good. It’s good to bring an underwater camera if you have one, though you can take photos from the boat when the shark approaches the boat and tries to take the bait.
It’s possible that you can spend an entire day on the water looking for sharks on a safari, and not see a single shark. If that happens, you can come along again the next day free of charge, in most instances. Do keep that in mind if it’s important to you to see great white sharks. You might want to give yourself a few days.