Every diver’s dream is getting close with one of the giants of the sea – the Great White Sharks. Known as the largest predatory fish on the planet, they can grow up to 20 feet and weigh a whopping 5,000 pounds. The size, feistiness, and notoriety of Great White Sharks as predators bring the thrill to cage divers. If you’re in the hunt for the best spot to cage dive with Great White Sharks, you’re at the right post.
What is cage diving?
Cage diving has been a favorite attraction in many dive spots with regular sightings of Great White Sharks. In cage diving, the divers will hop inside a large cage. This is to keep them safe and to prevent physical contact with the sharks.
Before, cage diving was for scientific observations only. Over time, it became a tool for underwater photography as well as recreational purposes.
Movies like ‘Sharknado’ and ‘Jaws’ have sparked the interest for the creatures. This led hundreds of divers flocking into cage dive sites to lay eyes on the Great White Sharks perceived to be vicious beings.
Still, safety precautions have to be observed on each dive. Cage shark diving isn’t for the faint of heart. You should keep the following points in mind during the cage dive:
*Never extend your hands outside the cage. The cage is made to contain you inside. Extending your hand exposes you to the risk of losing a limb.
*Remain calm. You’ll be in the cage with other divers. You should remain calm and graceful to avoid bumping others.
*Hold on to the cage. During the dive, you should have your one hand holding to the cage. If ever the cage moves, you will not crush to the walls or roof.
*Don’t enter the cage with your camera. You should enter the cage first then ask the crew to hand the camera to you.
Best Places to Go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
1. Gansbaai, South Africa
If you’re looking for the best place to dive with Great White Sharks, you should go to Gansbaai in South Africa. Gansbaai is located in Western Cape. The town’s main livelihood is fishing, but it’s also a popular tourist destination for its cage diving activity.
Here, the waters of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean mix, so are the marine life present underwater. With Cape Town considered as the Great White Shark capital of the world, there’s no doubt that Gansbaai sees hundreds of tourists on any specific day during the peak season.
Over 100 species of sharks can be found in South Africa. Back in 2011, the Lonely Planet rated cage diving in Gansbaai the best underwater experience. In Gansbaai, you’ll get up close with Bull Sharks and Great White Sharks.
The main cage dive point here is the ‘Shark Alley’. This is located between two islands and stands true to its name. Underwater, the Shark Alley is full of fins.
2. Crystal Coast, North Carolina
If you don’t want to go outside the U.S., you can head to Crystal Coast in North Carolina. This place is popular for wreck dives with over 2,000 sunken ships resting on its waters. Still, one of the main attractions here is cage diving with sharks.
The Crystal Coast is home to hundreds of sharks, including the Great White Sharks. Aside from that, you can also see bonnet, sharp nose, smoothhound, and bull sharks.
Aside from cage diving, you can also find dive shops here that offer scuba diving with the Great White Sharks. Just remember that they don’t feed the sharks here to prevent altering the ecosystem of these marine animals.
The best part here is that the sharks gravitate toward the wrecks. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
3. Neptune Islands, Australia
In South Australia, the Neptune Islands are famous for one thing: cage diving with the sharks. You can join a cage dive here all year round, but the best time would be between May and October. During this time, the water temperature is manageable and the weather is suitable for a dive.
During peak season, the Great White Sharks migrate to the Neptune Islands to feed on sea lions and seals. Tour operators utilize this season to get up close with the marine animal.
The immersive cage dive is done at the surface for non-divers. But if you have an open sea dive certification, you can join their ocean floor dives. Such open dives allow you to witness the Great White Sharks without the limits of the bars. Still, you should practice caution.
4. Tiger Beach, Bahamas
The Tiger Beach in the Bahamas got its name due to the presence of tiger sharks. Still, during peak season, you can chance upon some Great White Sharks underwater. You can also see Lemon Sharks and Reef Sharks during the dive.
The dive will be done about 20 miles away from the shore. This area is known to be the favorite hangout spot for a variety of shark species.
If you want to see hammerheads, bull sharks, dolphins, and other marine life, you should join the cage dive in Bimini. This is about 50 miles away from Miami in Florida.
You should arrange the dive before you arrive at the location. This way, you’ll be reserved a spot on the boat and in the cage.
5. Isla Mujeres/Isla Guadalupe, Mexico
Mexico is known for its tropical beaches, but for divers, this is also the top place to dive with Great White Sharks. Isla Mujeres is located nearby Cancun so expect that it can get really packed during the peak season.
From May to September, a large group of whale sharks visits the waters of Isla Mujeres. If you’re lucky, you can also chance upon several Great White Sharks during the dive.
If Isla Mujeres failed to show you the vicious Great White Shark, Isla Guadalupe will not disappoint. Here, you’ll see large Great White Sharks that will approach the cage with very minimal baiting.
The waters of Isla Guadalupe have excellent visibility of up to 150 feet. This makes cage shark diving more enjoyable. On the bay alone, three are over 100 Great White Sharks according to dive operators.
One of the most popular cage dives in Isla Guadalupe is the Nautilus Explorer. In this dive, you can watch Great White Sharks 40 feet underwater. Their cages are double-deckers to accommodate more tourists at a time.
6. Farallon Islands, California
Who would have thought that off the coast of San Francisco is a shark dive spot? The remote islands of Farallon are great to dive with Great White Sharks for those with a strong heart. This is a relatively far spot with no electricity and population except scientists.
The Farallon Islands become the playground of Great White Sharks during winter. In fact, the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is home to the world’s largest Great White Sharks. The sharks here range between 15 and 20 feet. They love staying within the waters of the island due to the large population of seals.
The best viewing season for Great White Sharks here is from mid-September to November. You must book your dive first and secure an educational permit from the marine sanctuary office.
Take note that you’re required to purchase insurance and sign a waiver before the dive. Take note that dives here are pretty expensive but truly worth it with the size of the sharks.
7. Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is a tropical paradise with a highly diverse marine life. It has shipwrecks, hundreds of marine creatures species, and several sharks to boast. You can get up close with the sharks without a cage, but if you’re not a certified diver, you can try the Northshore Shark Adventures instead.
Northshore is one of the most popular cage dive operators in Oahu. They boast 100% shark sightings on each dive. Also, they have a cheaper fee. They offer hotel pick-up to bring you to the dive spot.
This dive operator uses a large aluminum cage with an open top that floats on the surface of the water. Joiners of the dive aren’t required to have special skills or gears, but a snorkel and pair of goggles.
8. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Lastly, you can head to the Cocos Island in Costa Rica to watch some Great White Sharks. The most common sightings here are Galapagos, Whitetip reef, and Nurse Sharks. Still, there are instances when Great White Sharks show up in the dive, too. You can also chance upon a school of Hammerhead sharks and some Thresher sharks.
Aside from cage dives, you can also join an open sea dive so you’re not limited to the cage alone. However, this requires a dive certification.
The best locations to cage dive with Great White Sharks will let you observe the famed creature up close. You can see their rows of large teeth as well as the intimidating size. Above all, it allows you to appreciate the wonders of the underwater world.