I am so glad you are finally going to check shark cage diving in South Africa off your bucket list! Are you prepared? Such a once-in-a-lifetime experience must be done right the first time. That is why I put together this list of the best tips to know before shark cage diving in South Africa. After reading this article, you’ll be ready to make the ultimate memory!

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Choosing a Tour

The first step to ensuring an awesome shark cage diving experience in South Africa is choosing the right tour. First things first, regardless of the tour company you choose, your tour should leave from Gansbaai. This fishing town is the shark cage diving capital of the country and is famous for its dense population of both Great White sharks and whales. For that reason, numerous Shark Week shows were filmed there!

Marine Dynamics, which is probably the most well-known shark cage diving company in South Africa, hosts tours out of Gansbaai. I booked my tour with this company, and it did not disappoint. However, there are many other companies to choose from. Make sure to do your own research to ensure the experience you’re looking for! Viator is the best place to find these tours and compare your options. I’ve linked some tours below, for your convenience.

Gansbaai is the best place for shark cage diving in South Africa

Tips to Know Before Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

The Water is Coldest in the African Summer

The African summer (November-March) is a popular time to visit South Africa. However, the warm weather brings cold water, as the Antarctic icebergs melt at this time. In late November, the water was 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit). Pretty cold!

You May Not See Great White Sharks 

South Africa is THE place to see Great White sharks in the wild. However, in 2017, two orcas predated these icons of the sea. They were found to have killed 17 sharks in one day! Therefore, many Great White sharks evacuated the area. When I was there, in November 2022, they told us that the last sighting had been in May. 

Don’t cancel your shark cage diving tour just yet – there are plenty of other species of sharks you can see. Bronze Whaler sharks (AKA Copper sharks) are the most common; I saw several, and they were incredible. 

Your Trip May Be Canceled If There Are Orcas

As I just mentioned, orca attacks have driven many Great White sharks out of the South African waters. Although they do come back, if an orca is in the area, they will not stick around. Tours can be canceled upon an orca spotting. My husband’s shark cage diving tour was canceled in 2017 for this very reason; luckily, he got to go back and do it in 2022!

Take Motion Sickness Pills (Even If Not Prone to Seasickness)

Looking down at rough waters for hours is a recipe for disaster. Even if you are not prone to seasickness, there is a very good chance you’ll get sick on your shark cage diving tour. My husband and I never get seasick, but both of us fell victim. Take a motion sickness pill; you’ll thank me later!

Wear a Bathing Suit

Make sure to arrive in your bathing suit, or at least bring one to change into before boarding the boat. You will change into your wet suit on the boat in front of everybody, so you will need to be already wearing your bathing suit. I recommend arriving wearing a bathing suit with your clothes or a coverup on top. Footwear does not matter, as the wet suit has booties. 

Bring a Reliable Underwater Camera

You’ll undoubtedly want pictures and videos of your shark cage diving experience. We brought a good (but old) GoPro, which only lasted about 2 minutes in the cold water before its fully charged battery died. My best advice is to invest in a very reliable underwater camera that can withstand those temperatures.

You May Have to Wear Weights 

It is not uncommon to be given weights to wear during your experience. They will help hold you underwater to see the sharks (don’t worry – you’ll still be able to come up for air).  

It Is Not As Scary As It Sounds!

I was very scared to go shark cage diving. It was my husband’s idea: I only went because I have major FOMO. Despite all that, I am so glad I faced my fears. It was not scary at all. I felt very safe and secure inside of the cage. If you are scared like I was, I hope this little pep talk helps! 

Wear Sunscreen

This might go without saying, but don’t forget to wear sunscreen. You’ll be on a boat for hours with the hot African sun beating down on you. Adding to this, the sun reflecting off the water can intensify UV exposure. This is not the time to skip on the sun protection! 

As always, make sure your sunscreen is reef-safe. This is a great option.

Sit On The Top of The Boat

When we arrived, the staff told us the top of the boat was the best place to sit for shark viewing. I made sure to get a seat up there, and they were right. From the top, you can see sharks approaching from all angles and get some awesome pictures. We did get a bit sick staring down at the water, as I mentioned before, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! 

Marine Dynamics has a great shark cage diving tour in South Africa. Sit on top of their boat for the best views!

No Snorkeling or Scuba Diving Experience is Required 

Because shark cage diving has the word “diving” in it, I assumed I’d need some diving experience to participate. Luckily, neither diving nor snorkeling experience was required. We were given a snorkel mask without a breathing tube, so we were instructed to simply come up for air. 

I am not sure whether every shark cage diving experience is like this, but this is how Marine Dynamics operated. Be sure to double-check the requirements with your tour operator beforehand. 

Be Prepared To Be Physically Challenged  

Bobbing up and down, holding onto the cage, and fighting against the rough waters to do so can be very physically taxing. After we finished shark cage diving, I felt like someone had beat me up. Even my husband, who is very physically fit, was pretty winded. Be prepared for a workout! 

Now you’re all ready to have the best shark cage diving experience ever! Do you have any questions before you go? Contact me or let me know in the comments below.

Will you also be heading out on a safari during your trip to South Africa? If so, check out this article!

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