There are a few companies that offer shark cage diving along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast. We had the opportunity to go with Aliwal Shoal Scuba located in Umkomaas and had a blast.
What to expect
From their office, you change into wet suits and are driven a short distance to where the boats are. You get onto a rubber duck which travels 20 minutes to the site. It’s a lot of fun but it was also the longest 20 minutes of my life because you have to hold on tight as it can get a bit bumpy. If you’re prone to sea sickness then take something beforehand.
Is shark cage diving for you?
When you decide to go “Shark Cage Diving”, it means you’re going to be in a cage with sharks around you. That’s what you sign up for and this activity may not be for everyone. The thought of sharks circling you conjures images from movies like “Jaws” and “The Deep Blue Sea”. There was a group of friends with us that got into the cage first while we had to wait our turn. These poor souls were terrified and didn’t even stay in there for the full duration. I guess it’s a mind or matter situation and you have to be optimistic that you’re going to have a great time and not get eaten. (Just kidding) We were scared too but excited. When we got into the cage our experience was totally different, instead of feeling terrified, the experience was very tranquil. I know that sounds weird but it was very peaceful. The sharks were swimming around the cage curiously but never attacked the cage. We never felt like we were in danger while in there. We learnt that they aren’t the mindless killers that we see in the movies.
We saw only black tip sharks but apparently the species depends on the season. There is nothing like looking out into the blue ocean and then seeing silhouettes of something swimming towards you and as they get closer, you realise that it’s a group of sharks and they swim around you while you’re safely inside the cage. What we found interesting was that we were in the cage and there’s a diver taking pictures of us from outside the cage. Not once did the sharks pose a threat to him. We were in there for about 30 minutes which seemed sufficient. On our way back, we had an additional but brief surprise when we saw a whale.
You have the option to purchase all the photos taken by the diver which is given to you on a disc. Since this is a once in a life time opportunity you’ll feel compelled to buy it like me however it’s fairly expensive. I would argue that it’s worth it but it could be a bit cheaper since they are just burning unedited digital copies to disc.
Apart from that shark cage diving is awesome and everyone should try it. Let us know how your experience went and which company you used. I look forward to your feedback.