The best place on the planet for shark cage diving is without a doubt in the little town of Gansbaai, approximately two hours away from Cape Town, South Africa. It has one of the most lucrative marine and tourist industries within the region, however the success did not come without its share of controversy.
Most of the tour packages are full day, costing approximately $100 US or 1,000 Rand, the South African currency. It includes transportation to and from Cape Town or surrounding towns, a light breakfast and lunch. The actual dive lasts for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Your session is recorded both for liability purposes and for the tour operator to sell you the over priced video of your expedition.
After the boat is loaded up, it takes about 15 minutes to arrive at the dive site. The crew member starts “chumming” the water with baits which consist of a mixture of fish blood, guts, and saltwater to attract sharks.
One controversy of this practice is the attracting of sharks so close to humans can often result in sharks becoming desensitized to human contact and the metallic cage can cause injuries to the sharks. However, those in the industry have argued that lucrative shark watching is the best way to fight the shark poaching industry, discouraging poachers from hunting sharks for their fins; a high-prized Asian delicacy.
In my experience, it is certainly worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime, the dive lasted no longer than 10 minutes and there were approximately 12 of us on board. I was allowed a second round, but I refused due to a touch of sea sickness. Is it worth the $100? Perhaps… but if it must be given a rating, I’ll give this activity 3 out of 5.