When is the best time to see Great White Sharks?
South Africa (Gansbaai), is the only place where you can view Great White Sharks in a very short period of time, in their natural environment. We have more than a 90% sighting rate throughout the year.
The year can be divided into two seasons:
April to August/September, White Sharks are observed mainly around Dyer Island and Geyser Rock.
September to March, the Sharks use an area located three kilometers to the north in the shallow bay known as Shark Bay.
How cold is the water?
In winter it is 15-20 degrees Celsius or 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit.
In summer it is 10-15 degrees Celsius or 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do I need to go into a cage to see Great White Sharks?
No, Great White Sharks are very active surface feeders, and can be observed from the boat without having to go into the shark cage. Surface viewing from the boat is always better than from the cage, as the underwater visibility is often limited between 3-6 meters on average. On rare occasion during winter, the visibility can be 10 meters and more. Surface viewing provides you with a fantastic opportunity to capture these majestic and beautiful animals on camera!
How long do we have to wait to see Great White Sharks?
We cannot predict how long it will take for the first Great White Shark to appear in close proximity of the boat. Patience is one of the most important prerequisites to see wildlife. We must also remember that we are working with wild marine animals. It sometimes takes a few minutes and sometimes up to an hour and more for a shark/s to appear. There are no resident Great White Sharks around the Dyer Island and Geyser Rock area – these sharks are transient.
How long do the sharks stay around the boat?
We cannot predict how long the sharks will stay around the boat. Great White Sharks present different behavioral patters. Some are relaxed while other sharks are more active. Great White Sharks are curious animals, but also very cautious. On average Great White Sharks could remain around the boat for minutes at a time, but this is completely unpredictable and we cannot guarantee the length of any viewing period.
Is it safe?
Yes it is safe. Any licensed South African shark cage diving operator is regulated by a Code of Conduct enforced by “DEAT” (Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism). In our company’s existence of 24 years, we have not had any incidents or accidents.
How do I get to Gansbaai?
Gansbaai is located about 175 kilometres or 120 miles southeast from Cape Town towards Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of the African continent.
From Cape Town, take the N2 highway in the direction of Somerset West, continue over Sir Lowry’s Pass onto the mountains past Grabouw until the N2 drops down to Botrivier, where you turn off the N2 onto the R44 towards Hermanus. In Hermanus, just follow the Gansbaai signs, but basically just drive straight through Hermanus and you will reach Stanford and then Gansbaai.
Where is the meeting point in Gansbaai?
Our office is located in Kleinbaai Harbor opposite the launching and boat parking area. When you arrive in Gansbaai, continue past the three 4-way stops in the main road, leave the town behind driving past the industrial area on the left, until you reach a 4-way stop, where you turn right towards Kleinbaai and the ocean. Follow this road until you get to the harbor. The launching slipway will be on your left and our office on the right.
Is your company eco friendly?
Yes, we are Eco orientated and believe in participating , facilitating and supporting the following;
- minimization of tourism’s own environmental impact;
- conservation of biological and cultural diversity, through the protection of ecosystems;
- affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury;
- promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to local populations;
- sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous people by having their informed consent and participation in the management of ecotourism enterprises;
- increase of environmental & cultural knowledge;
- local culture, flora and fauna being the main attractions.
Is it true that you are teaching sharks to associate humans with food?
No it is not true;
Sharks are not resident in our area of operation
We do not touch the sharks.
We do not feed the sharks.
We chum responsibly and within the given code of conduct guidelines of bait allowance on the boat.
Through enforcing the above, we do not condition the sharks in any way.
What is your conservation involvement?
Our motto; “Research, Education, Preservation” prevails, as our 3 company directors are extremely passionate about wildlife and sharks in particular. Our company serves on various national and international wildlife conservation boards and trusts, thereby ensuring that our crew remain focussed on research and conservation at all times. Every excursion we undertake, is based on creating awareness that the great white shark is an endangered specie and that each one of us can make a difference. We aim at educating young and old, that sharks are highly misunderstood and forms a vital part of our marine eco-system. Therefore it is vital that they should be protected, not harmed. We also focus on the anatomy of the shark, the reasons why we have to dive responsibly with them and also explain that great white shark by-products reach high prices on the international markets, being the main reason for their slaughter.
Our Managing Director is acknowledged worldwide as an international wildlife facilitator and rehabilitator and an expert in oiled wildlife and has dedicated most her life to rehabilitation of wildlife. Mariette grew up as animal rehabber under the watchful eye of her grand father who was also a well-known hands-on animal rehabber. Her passion lies predominantly with marine animals and the rescue of sea birds. Mariette was the logistical co-ordinator for the largest oil spill in the history of mankind, “The Treasure Oil Spill”. She has been involved with marine bird rescue since 1990, and forms part of the global oiled wildlife networks by supporting them with hands on logistical advice. Mariette was the chairperson of the SANCCOB Executive committee from 2001 – 2002 and has recently been elected Chairperson of the SANCCOB Board of Directors. Mariette was also the founder of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, a non-profitable organization where she served in the chair for more than 12 years. She was also elected as spokes person for the non-consumptive fishing sector in National Parliament. Mariette was appointed Zoo Administrator under Sen. Paul Bremmer in Iraq to save the war stricken wild animals belonging to Saddam Hussein from severe death while there was a raging war. Her tremendous efforts and input over the years has been recognised across the globe with various NGO’s and she most often do presentations on her animal rescue endeavours. A lot of her hands on work and courageous efforts to save wild life have been captured in written books and well known global magazines.
Mariette is a well-respected figure amongst international emergency relief teams worldwide, and as contract member, is on 24 hour call to assist with any wildlife crisis globally. Mariette also dedicates her time to the mitigation of “human impact on aquatic birds, marine life (including sharks) and other wildlife” worldwide, which is achieved through participating in emergency response and rehabilitation. Mariette unconditionally dedicates her time to the education, research and planning of operational wildlife projects and regularly receives invites to give lectures on the successful facilitation and rehabilitation of marine and other wildlife.
Throughout our tours, we strive to raise public awareness and a better understanding towards this highly misunderstood predator, who nearly faced extinction due to brutal and unnecessary killings over the years. We work towards putting the “jaws perception” back into perspective and encourage our visitors to contribute towards preserving our heritage. Informative educational information is provided, with an emphasis on conservation and preservation, thereby ensuring the continued existence of Great White shark.
Our tours are 100% eco-friendly and we refrain from using anything other than natural products, to attract the sharks. Utter care is taken when handling the sharks, ensuring that they are not harmed or unduly disturbed in any way.
Our Tour Guide daily collects data on the size, sex, scar markings and times that sharks are sighted. Areas visited and where sharks have been encountered are plotted on our Global Positioning System, and all data forwarded to Marine and Coastal Management in Cape Town, for further analysis. This information is also made available to scientists.
Is shark cage diving and viewing a preferred tour?
Yes, our company respect the guidelines and regulations that is in place to mandate your safety and that of the sharks.
We have a commitment towards the protection of sharks, the marine environment, education and conservation.
Can you organize transport and accommodation?
We can organise transport and accommodation for your excursion and visit to Gansbaai.
BUSSES – We own two brand new 22-seater luxurious buses, fully equipped with TV and air-conditioning for your comfort. Buses are driven only by PDP licensed drivers and tour guides. We are the only company in the industry that is in possession of a valid permit to operate our buses between Cape Town and Gansbaai.
Accommodation upon request – Various Options.
How many days in advance should I book a tour?
Every day is different at sea, and we can never forecast what the conditions, situations or encounters will be like. Through experience we have learnt that a 1-day tour is adequate to enjoy the great white shark. Should availability allow, bookings can be made on short notice – a day prior to the tour. If you are a Shark lover, we would recommend our 3 day tour.
What can I do during my stay in Gansbaai?
Gansbaai has become a popular tourist coastal town over the past decade. The town of Gansbaai stretch over a distance of 20 kilometres of coastline from De Kelders to Pearly Beach, and offer amazing walks along the rocky shore of De Kelders, or along the beautiful beach of Uilenkraalsmond. De Kelders offers some beautiful shore based whale watching from June to December. Walks in the unique Fynbos Biome can also be undertaken, and a guided tour is highly recommended so that you can learn more about the hundreds of indigenous plant species. Gansbaai is definitely a place where you can get in touch with nature on a different level.
Am I allowed to scuba dive in the cage with a PADI Dive Certification?
Yes, but we recommend that you do not use scuba equipment in the cage due to the potential negative effect that the bubbles and noise create, keeping the naturally cautious Sharks at a distance.
Will I scuba Dive or just hold my breath?
In most conditions, we prefer not to use scuba equipment that produces a lot of noise and bubbles under the water, which often keeps the Sharks from coming close. You will have a better chance of seeing the Sharks if we can point out the direction to look, especially when the underwater visibility is poor. But if you insist on using scuba equipment, and if, and only if, you are a qualified scuba diver, we will provide you with a regulator to dive in the cage once everyone else has had their diving time in the cage. (This is only available on request, so if you want to use scuba gear for your dive, you should pre-arrange this with us long in advance.)
How deep is the cage in the water?
The cage remains afloat and about 50 centimeters of the cage floats above the water at all times. The cage is also thoroughly attached to the boat with two thick natural fiber ropes that prevent the cage from sinking or drifting away from the boat. The bottom of the cage is about 2 meters below the surface of the water. The ocean floor is about 15 – 20 meters from the surface all depending on where we anchor.
How many people can go into the cage?
Maximum of 5 divers can go into the cage at any time.
Does the cage have a lid?
Yes, our Shark cage has a lid which is always closed once the divers are all safely in the cage.
Is the cage safe?
The cage is built according to a special designed Naval Architechtual Engineering plan and inspected throughout the year. We adhere strictly to all specifications as stipulated by the Naval Architectual Inspector
Do you welcome children on the boat?
Children are welcomed onboard, provided they are aged 5 years and older (under parent supervision).
Legal guardians will be asked to sign additional liability waivers for those under 18 years old.
Do you allow children in the cage?
Children aged 10 years and older may dive in the cage (under parent supervision
Legal guardians will be asked to sign additional liability waivers for those under 18 years old.
Can I dive if I am physically handicapped?
Yes – We have accommodated various handicapped people on our trip and in the cage. We are the only operator with handicapped facilities.
Can I dive if I am pregnant?
We do not recommend that woman pregnant more 2 months dive in the cage.
How far is the island from the launching site?
It takes between 20 and 30 minutes from Kleinbaai harbor to the anchor location in Shark Bay. The time will also vary depending on the sea and weather conditions, as strong seas and/or strong headwinds can lengthen this time considerably.
Do you guarantee sharks?
We cannot guarantee that you will see Great White Sharks from the surface or from the cage. Wildlife is unpredictable and cannot be guaranteed. However, we can confirm that our success rate is approx. 98%.
Do I get a refund if I do not see shark?
No, sharks are wild animals and cannot be guaranteed. However, should you have the misfortune of not seeing a shark on any specific tour, we will offer you a second tour free of charge (transport excluded).
How long do we stay on the ocean?
Approx. 3 hours.
What determines where you anchor each day to find sharks?
Many diving magazines and books have wrongly inferred that Shark Alley is the main location to anchor and see Sharks in Gansbaai throughout the year. However, various factors play a part in where we choose to go and ‘look for Sharks’.
The two main criteria we consider when launching are:
- a) Weather conditions, which ultimately affect client comfort and safety on board;
- b) Where the sharks have been sighted previously. Shark sightings are seasonal in the area and their presence can fluctuate between an inshore reef system and various spots around Dyer Island.
If conditions allow us to safely enter Shark Alley, we will make a journey through there after/before a cage dive to view the seal colony. However, this narrow stretch of water is a very delicate marine environment and certainly not the only – or ‘best’ spot to see White Sharks in the area.