If you are an adrenaline junkie like myself, you really need to visit Gansbaai and go shark cage diving. I am a Great White lover and any opportunity to get nearer to these majestic creatures is one I will gladly take. I contacted a company called Shark Diving Unlimited, in my opinion the best shark cage diving company there is in the area, to go Shark Cage Diving In Gansbaai.
They have an incredibly professional and friendly team, who also research the sharks. What appealed to me was that unlike some of the other companies, the boat is not overcrowded, they take smaller groups of people, which also increases your chances of getting in the water with a Great White Shark.
I arrived in Gansbaai, which is just past Hermanus and when I got to Shark Diving Unlimited we were welcomed with breakfast and a brief chat about the day ahead. We got our stuff together and took a walk down to the boat. The excitement really starts to build as you get nearer to the water. Once on board we set out to Shark Alley, one of the most popular shark cage diving spots. When we got further out and in a good location the engines are switched off and the crew start to prepare the chum.
Before they even started chumming, we had sight of two great whites in the water. When they are so close to the boat and you see them for the first time, that’s when you realise just how large and beautiful they are. It’s also when you realise that you are now also more petrified than excited to get in the water! So the chumming has started, they tie a fish head to a float and some rope and we get our wetsuits on, ready to brave the waters.
The cage is put alongside the boat and allows for five people at a time. Rules are strict for obvious safety reasons, like no putting your hand through the cage… well there went my chances of stroking one! I put on my goggles and climbed into the cage. Holding the bars above my head and resting my knees on a bar under the water against the cage, I was ready to dive. The chum will bring the sharks into the area and the fish head is used as bait to lure them closer to the cage for a close up view.
As the shark is coming, they tell you to go down, you hold your breath, lower yourself in the cage and watch the shark swim closer towards you as the crew pull the bait nearer to the boat. Once the shark had passed in front of us and was no longer visible, I came up for air! Wow, all I wanted to do under water was gasp with excitement and pure awe!
We were all laughing and talking so much about what we just saw… adrenaline was now rushing, and we were told to go down again. Taking a quick gulp of air we go under, this time to see the Great White grabbing the bait and thrashing it under water. It is unbelievable the power these creatures have.
Diving like this really makes you appreciate the Great White and helps you realise that they are not out there to get you when you dip your toes in the water. They were not interested in the divers in the cage, they only wanted the fish and otherwise would simply glide past the cage if the fish bait wasn’t in the water. There was never any aggression shown or any attempt to latch onto the cage with its teeth as some people expect.