When is the best time to see Great White Sharks in Cape Town, South Africa?
The best time of the year in Cape Town for Great White Shark sightings is February to end September. Thereafter we advise having us book your dive in Gansbaai. The Western Cape is known for its storms so, if possible, schedule a few days for your White Shark experience, as the cage-diving boats will not be able to launch during the sea storms.
Is shark viewing and cage-diving eco-friendly?
Yes, if it is done with respect towards the sharks and other wildlife and remains sensitive to the regulations in place. Our ethical commitment toward the sharks and their conservation determine our every decision and we will not in any way jeopardise the wildlife.
Do you respect the sharks?
Apex Shark Expeditions is dedicated to showing the sharks the utmost respect. We strive to show you the real Great White Shark, not the image popular culture portrays.
Do you feed the sharks?
In South Africa, law prohibits us from feeding the sharks. We also avoid feeding the sharks for ethical and general conservation reasons. We use a point of interest to attract sharks to the boat – like a tuna head that is attached afloat and a rope and pulled away from the sharks. This bait is used solely as a lure, however some sharks will manage to take the bait.
Is shark cage-diving safe?
The South African cage-diving industry is regulated by a code of conduct and regulations from Marine and Coastal Management (DEAT – Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism).
Our main priority is the safety of our guests. Our equipment meets all the required safety standards and the experience of our crew ensure that you’re in good hands.
Can you guarantee White Sharks sightings?
Nature is unpredictable and we cannot guarantee that you will see White Sharks from the surface or from the cage. However our success rate is higher than 90% throughout the season.
How do I get to False Bay, Simon's Town departure point?
You can acquire directions to the M3 highway, from your hotel. Take the M3 Southbound highway towards Muizenberg. Once off of the M3, follow the signs to Muizenberg. From Muizenberg follow the Main Road through to Fish Hoek and then Simon’s Town. This is all on one road and the ocean will be on your left hand side.
Once you reach Simon’s Town, pass the train station on the left side. Approximately 1 kilometre from the train station, turn left into Wharf Street. This will take you into the large parking lot with Simons Town Pier in front of it. All trips depart from the end of the Pier.
How far is Seal Island from the departure point?
It generally takes between 25 – 30 minutes from Simon’s Town Pier to Seal Island. This will also vary depending on the sea and weather conditions, as strong seas and / or strong headwind conditions can lengthen this time considerably.
How long will we stay at sea?
We will be at sea for between 3 and 4 hours.
What type of vessel is used for the shark trip?
White Pointer II is the name of our 32 ft. catamaran vessel. This boat was specifically built for the purpose of working, viewing and diving with Great White Sharks in the waters of the Western Cape. The boat carries all the necessary safety equipment and is certified on an annual basis by SAMSA, the authority responsible for maritime safety in South Africa.
How many guests aboard?
We take a maximum of 12 guests on board, offering the smallest trips in the industry.
What is the air and water temperature?
Depending on the time of year, the air temperature can be anywhere between 12 and 30 degrees Celsius and the sea temperature anywhere between 12 – 17 degrees Celsius.
Can I pay a little less if I only wish to surface view without going into the cage?
Unfortunately not. Great White sharks are surface feeders and as such, guests who choose not to cage dive will have good sightings of the sharks from our vessel.
Can I bring alcohol on the boat?
No. Alcohol is probably the biggest inducer of sea-sickness and we would recommend that you avoid alcohol as much as possible prior to your trip.
Can I smoke on the boat?
No. White Pointer II is a non-smoking vessel. This is both for the comfort of all passengers and for safety reasons.
Will I get sea-sick?
Hopefully not, but unfortunately sea-sickness may be a part of the experience. You are welcome to take sea-sickness tablets before and / or during your trip, should you feel you need them.
What can I do to avoid sea-sickness?
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule that prevents sea-sickness, but here are some tips which may help you prevent it:
1. Avoid any alcohol the evening before your trip, or at least drink with moderation. Alcohol and hangovers are a near guarantee for sea-sickness.
2. Take an anti-motion sickness tablet the evening before your trip, and another one an hour before boarding the boat (these are available at any pharmacy without prescription – we recommend Dramamine or Stugeron).
3. During the trip, stay outside of the cabin, remain in the fresh breeze, and avoid the toilet. Keep your eyes on the horizon from the start, and try not to look through your camera's view finders for too long (most compact digital cameras offer a screen, use this option). If the sea is choppy, avoid going on the top deck where the boat's movements will be accentuated. Wear comfortable and loose clothing items, or just make yourselves as comfortable as possible by opening buttons or belts.
Do you serve food and refreshments on board?
Yes. Rolls with cheese and meat fillings; snacks, from sweets to fresh fruits; and a range of soft drinks and bottled water.
What should I wear and must I bring anything along?
Warm clothing in winter: June to September – Closed shoes, long pants, waterproof jacket and cap / beanie. In summer: October – April – a wind breaker, cap / hat. All year round – bathing suit, camera with a large memory card.
At what point in the day is the water rougher, morning or afternoon?
It depends entirely on the weather on the day of your trip.
How long do we have to wait for the sharks to appear?
Patience is an important prerequisite to see wildlife. This is especially true with marine wildlife. Sometimes we wait only a few minutes and other times, we are still waiting several hours after anchoring. Occasionally, we do not see any White Sharks. Nature and wildlife are unpredictable and sharks are elusive and cautious creatures.
How long do the sharks stay around the boat?
We cannot give a definitive answer to that question. We believe that White Sharks have different personalities, probably the result of previous experience. One shark might come up to the lure, have one quick look, not feel confident about the situation, and leave moments later. The next shark might be much more relaxed and remain around the boat for hours. Remember that White Sharks are curious animals, but their caution is a much stronger instinct.
Do I need to go into the cage to see White Sharks?
No. One of the great advantages with White Sharks is that they are very active at the surface and can be easily observed from the boat without having to go into the shark cage. Surface viewing can sometimes be better than from the cage when underwater visibility is limited. Surface viewing is great and provides you with the best opportunities to capture these amazing and beautiful animals on camera!
What is your policy regarding children?
We do not recommend our trips for children under 10 years of age. Children are prone to get sea-sick as do adults, but the effect of sea-sickness on children is much more pronounced with dehydration being a big factor.
Can you arrange transport and accommodation?
We most certainly can organise transport and accommodation. The transfers start from R 500 per person return. We would, however, recommend that you stay at least one night in Simon’s Town, preferably the night prior to your trip as our trips depart at 06h50.
We can arrange accommodation tailored to your needs and budget. Simon’s Town offers many options, from backpackers and guest houses to exclusive lodges. Prices range from R 250 per person per night, upwards.
How many days should I book?
As many days as your budget allows. If you just want to see a Great White Shark, then one day should be enough (weather permitting).
If you are a shark lover, then we would recommend that you spend at least five days with us. Great White Sharks are intelligent animals and present very different behavioural patterns and attitudes. They display different characteristics; some being very shy or extra cautious, while others are playful and curious in the extreme. Every day at sea is different and we can never predict conditions, situations or encounters. The weather is also a factor, as all trips are weather permitting.
What can I do during my stay in Simon’s Town?
Simon’s Town is a quaint naval town with restaurants and shops. Activities include excursions to Cape Point, some 20 minutes away, or a brisk walk to the penguins at Boulders Beach. Ocean kayaking and hiking in the surrounding mountains are also great options.
How deep does the cage sit in the water?
The cage remains afloat and about 70 centimetres of the cage floats above the water at all time. The cage is also solidly attached to the boat with two thick ropes that further prevent it from sinking or drifting away from the boat. The bottom of the cage is lying about two metres below the surface.
What must I wear to cage dive?
We advise donning your bathing suit under your clothes when getting dressed for your trip. A second skin may add extra warmth for the guests who are prone to the cold. Wetsuits and all other dive gear, including towels will be provided.
Will I scuba dive in the cage or just breath hold?
We prefer not to use scuba equipment which produces a lot of noise and bubbles under the water. This often keeps the sharks from coming close. You will have a better chance of seeing the sharks if we can communicate the direction the sharks are coming from, especially when the water visibility is poor. However, if you prefer using scuba equipment and you are a qualified scuba diver, we will provide you with a regulator to dive in the cage once everyone else has had their dive.
Am I allowed to scuba dive in the cage if I just have a PADI Open Water scuba certification?
Yes, however we wouldn’t recommend the use of scuba equipment in the cage due the affect the bubbles and noise have on the naturally cautious sharks. In high visibility conditions, this becomes less of an issue, but when visibility is not great, we would advise against the use of scuba equipment.
Is the cage attached to the boat?
Yes. The cage is designed to float, leaving a free board of about 30cm (about one foot). The cage is solidly attached to the side of the boat by two thick ropes that prevent the cage from drifting away.
How many people does the cage accommodate at a time?
We have a five man cage.
Does the cage have a lid?
Yes. The lid is closed once you are safely in the cage.
How long can I stay in the cage?
This depends on the number of guests on the trip who wish to go into the cage. Your first cage dive will be relatively short, just long enough for you to see a White Shark. Once everyone has had a chance to see the sharks from the cage, you can then return for a second dive, time allowing. You should get 20 – 30 minutes in the cage.
Is the cage safe?
Yes. 100% safe. It is constructed with galvanised steel and equipped with several independent flotation devices which keep it buoyant.
I can’t swim, can I still cage dive?
You need to be comfortable in the water and with the environment one finds themselves in with shark cage diving, it is not advisable.
Are we allowed to take our cameras into the cage?
We encourage it.
Do the crew take pictures or film our experience?
Unfortunately not. Please bring your own camera.
Do you allow children in the shark cage?
Children 12 years and older will be allowed into the cage. Parents will need to vouch that their child is comfortable in an aquatic environment.
Can ladies cage dive whilst on their menstrual cycle?
Yes, this has no affect on the cage diving experience.
Do you cancel in the event of rain?
We have a dry cabin on board so rain will not impact the experience too much. It is wind and swell that we are most affected by.
When will I know if the trip I am booked on is going ahead or not?
We receive our final weather report at 14h00 each day and the decision to put to sea is made by the skipper based on this weather update. We will, therefore, confirm or cancel the afternoon prior to your trip.
When do you require payment for the trip?
If it is a morning excursion, after the trip. Althernatively, before the afternoon trip.
What experience do your guides have?
Our guides have worked with the sharks and wildlife around the island for long periods. They are passionate about the animals and will ensure you receive an educational encounter you will remember.
Will the trip be just about sharks or will it include other wildlife as well?
We like to think of our trips as marine safaris, as we observe and enjoy all the wildlife we come across including dolphins, whales, penguins and seabirds.
Is free diving offered on the Mako and Blue Shark trip?
While we understand that many of our guests may not want to cage dive in the open ocean and that we used to free dive with Mako’s and Blues, today we cage dive for the following reasons.
While we realise that we appear to have done an about turn on our previous offers, we have come to understand the conditions and wildlife we work with better. Our success rate and knowledge of the offshore environment has also improved greatly.
Remember that this trip is not just about sharks, but also a huge assortment of wildlife and we make sure to showcase as much of this wildlife as possible, on each trip.
What is the duration of the Cow Shark dive?
Bottom time for this dive is just under one hour.
Where is the Cow Shark dive site?
It is a kelp forest dive close in shore.
Is there any likelihood of seeing a shark on the Seal dive?
No, we have not seen a shark in this area before. It is a non-breeding colony of seals and the dive site is protected by boulders and shallow canyons.
Can I come view the seals, but not dive?
Yes, we charge a reduced rate for guests who want to come and watch the seals from the boat while the snorkelers / scuba divers are in the water.