South Africa is a beautiful country known for its incredible landscapes and wildlife, including its stunning marine life.
One of the activities that South Africa is known for is shark diving, due to its vast population of various different kinds of sharks.
With this in mind, we are going to be looking at the best locations that offer shark diving experiences in South Africa. Let’s get started.
Protea Banks is a well known location when it comes to shark diving in South Africa, established way back in 1994.
Located on the Protea Reef- which is around 7.5km out to sea from the beautiful Shelly Beach- Protea Banks offers various opportunities for shark diving for people of all experience levels.
The reef- a fossilized sandbank of sorts- has a depth of around 27 to 40 meters and is 800m wide and 6km long.
The Northern Pinnacle of the reef is almost completely untouched, with two caves that are used by Ragged-tooth sharks (who have established themselves as a favorite of divers in the area due to their inquisitive and friendly nature!).
The sharks utilize the caves for their annual congregation and migration route, where divers can encounter them during this amazing time
When it comes to the Southern Pinnacle, there are various kinds of sharks roaming that can be encountered during a dive, such as tiger sharks, black tip sharks, bull sharks and bronze whalers as well as large schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks too.
Bull sharks are particularly prominent in Protea Banks, thanks to the area also being a particularly rich tuna fish ground.
Protea Banks is well known for their incredible Sardine Run package, where they offer the chance for divers to experience the annual sardine migration that happens during June and July.
This is an amazing opportunity to not only see the mass migration of the fish, but also a chance to see sharks as well as gannets, dolphins and even whales!
Protea Banks offers tons of versatility in regard to their diving experiences, so this is certainly an excellent choice when it comes to shark diving in South Africa.
- Beautiful location
- Unique Sardine Run package
- Wide range of shark species to observe
- Invested in ECO-Education and ECO-Tourism to protect the reefs and sea creatures.
- Might be a little difficult for beginners
- Free diving only, no cage diving options
This dive site is located in Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa and is named for the rock pyramid that rises a meter above the surface of the water.
The formation itself drops no deeper than 12 meters below the water, though, making it suitable for divers of all experience levels.
The Pyramid Rocks dive spot is known for its seven gill sharks, kelp forests, large reef fish and wide range of other marine life. These allow for plenty of opportunities for underwater photography.
Both shore dives and boat dives are available at Pyramid Rocks, with entry level divers and the more experienced able to tackle the dives with ease.
It is possible to dive at Pyramid Rocks all year round, but for those with little to no diving experience, consider visiting in winter time (from June to September in South Africa) as there is far less wind and surf, which might be a little intimidating for newbies.
- Both shore dives and slightly deeper boat dives are available
- Unique scenery thanks to the pyramid shaped rock formation
- Kelp forest exploration
- Perfect for entry level divers
- All year round diving
- Excellent choice for macro and micro photography
May not be as challenging for more experienced divers.
Aliwal Shoal is a gorgeous and picturesque rocky reef that isn’t far from the coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Named after the Aliwal ship- which almost collapsed in the reef in 1849- the shoal has two nearby shipwrecks (the SS Nebo and the MV Produce) that are incredibly popular with divers.
The reef offers a versatile diving experience thanks to the wide range of marine life that inhabit the surrounding waters.
The Shoal is also part of a much larger reef complex that runs parallel to the coastline, also known as The Crown.
In terms of what kind of marine life is most prominent, the Aliwal Shoal features sharks such as gray nurse sharks, hammerheads and whitetip sharks. It is also home to critters such as eels and turtles.
The great thing about Aliwal Shoal is that they offer various courses associated with diving.
You can learn to dive, continue learning if you already have some experience, and you can even become a professional by taking PADI courses.
They do of course offer plenty of shark diving opportunities too, with shark cage diving and snorkeling available.
The cages used for the cage diving experience are all South African Maritime Safety Authority approved, so you can be sure that both you and the sharks will remain safe throughout your experience.
You can also be sure that the sharks are attracted to the area via environmentally friendly ways, thanks to the session being in line with the strict regulations enforced by the Department of Environmental Affairs Shark Diving Permit that the Aliwal Dive Center holds.
With plenty of opportunities for underwater photography as well as snorkeling, free diving, deep diving, scuba diving practice and training and shark cage diving, Aliwal Shoal is definitely a must if you are looking to engage in a range of underwater activities as well as shark diving.
- Wide range of diving experiences
- The chance to learn more about diving, build on your established skills, or become certified.
- Shipwreck diving experiences
- A variety of marine life in the area
- All year round diving with different species having different seasons
- Eco-friendly methods of shark baiting
- As Aliwal Shore can be found in a protected nature reserve, there are occasional great white sharks spotted, which could be intimidating for some. Of course, your safety is always the top priority, but this may be off-putting for some!
False Bay is located in Cape Town and is another beginner-friendly opportunity to engage in some shark cage diving. No experience is required for this diving trip, whilst the season lasts from February to September.
Divers will receive a safety briefing before they are taken to Seal Island. The crew will then use the chum to bait Great Whites and divers will be able to enter the cage.
If you are a bit nervous though, you are welcome to watch the sharks from the boat.
If you prefer to follow a specific itinerary, then this cage diving experience should suit you down to the ground, as the False Bay team have everything planned for you.
Their online itinerary is a rough guideline to the times you will need to adhere to, but the team will contact you to confirm the exact schedule the day before you embark on your diving experience.
- Structured and well organized
- Nervous participants can stay in the boat if they so choose.
- Exhilarating shark cage diving experience
- Relatively affordable compared to some other choices of shark diving experiences.
- Only one shark diving experience available
- Has to be within the certain months of the season, which might be difficult for those unable to commit to those months.
- The chum baiting method has attracted some controversy due to the unnatural feeding habits it can create in Great White sharks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shark Diving Safe?
It is understandable to be nervous when embarking on a shark diving experience, but as long as you follow safety procedures and keep in mind any and all of the precautions and safety instructions that the team behind your chosen experience give you, you should be absolutely fine.
If it makes you feel any better, humans aren’t the preferred choice of snack for sharks anyway!! Shark attacks are incredibly rare, so as long as you behave responsibly, you won’t have any issues.
Is There a Shark that Is Best to Dive With?
You can dive with absolutely any shark, though certain sharks do have different temperaments that might affect your choice of diving experience if you are nervous.
For instance, nurse sharks are a very relaxed species that tend to be more calm, whereas Great Whites might be far too intimidating to some divers.
Is Shark Diving Safe for the Sharks?
When done responsibly, there is minimal risk to sharks when it comes to cage diving. However, there are certain concerns that stem from the act of chumming.
Chumming relates to throwing fish guts- or chum- into the ocean to attract the sharks. Concerns surround the unnatural impact this can have on the feeding habits of the sharks.
Shark diving can have its benefits though, acting as a conservation tool in various ways.