8 Marine Safaris to do In South Africa

by Ray Kua
Snorkeling with sharks in Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

If you are a fan of marine wildlife, South Africa marine safaris would definitely appeal to you. These safaris give you the chance to swim right next to The Marine Big 5 like the Great White Sharks and Cape Fur Seals.

The first images that normally come to your mind when “South Africa Safari” is mentioned, would be that of Lions, Giraffes, or Elephants. Many fail to realize that can include the Great White Sharks, Cape Fur Seals, and even Crocodiles!

Marine safaris in South Africa is often an overlooked aspect for first-timers to South Africa. Much like many beginners, my research during my first trip was mainly focused on planning for land-based safari.

South Africa is where the atlantic ocean meets the indian ocean
Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean

It was only when I delve deeper into the “What to-do list” in the beautiful coastal towns in Southern South Africa that I chanced upon the possibility of marine safaris. South Africa borders the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, thus making it a heaven for spotting marine wildlife.

The Marine Big 5 is the Southern Rights Whale, Great White Shark, Dolphins, Cape Fur Seals, and Penguins. Marine animals do not limit to these big 5 though, as crocodiles and hippopotamus in their natural habitat are just as fascinating as the Big 5.

Penguin at Boulder Beach
Penguin at Boulder Beach

In my post on “4 Things to Do When Traveling to South Africa”, you would have read up on the different ways you could enjoy a marine safari. Though if you are looking for a completely immersive experience, the best way to enjoy marine safaris in South Africa would be to join the animals in the water!

Yet, you would not be left out if you are not able to swim well, as many other options ranging from a cruise to coastline views still exist.

Crocodile Cage Diving at African Croc Dive
Crocodile Cage Diving at African Croc Dive
Cageless Shark Snorkeling at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa
Cageless shark snorkeling
Swimming with sharks in marine safaris
Swimming is the best way to get up-close in marine safaris

A complete marine safari adventure can actually be planned along the well-traveled route from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park, to Cape Town. With a bit of luck in weather conditions, the routes enable you to experience the complete marine wildlife diversity on offer in South Africa.

Unlike land-based safari which is enjoyable all-year-round, certain South Africa marine safaris are more seasonal. The mystery of the vast ocean is also not visible to the naked eye. This causes unpredictable patterns in sightings such as the sudden dropping in Great White Shark sightings from the Gansbaai’s Shark Alley for the past 2 years

That said, you should still give these activities a shot as it is not everywhere that would have such an abundance of marine safaris like in South Africa.

Marine safaris in South Africa in 6 days

  • 1 Night in St Lucia
  • 1 Night in Durban
  • 4 Nights in Capetown

Contents

1. St Lucia Estuary-Where Hippos Roam

Traveling to St Lucia from Kruger National Park

Hippos are the most dangerous animals in South Africa
Hippos are the most dangerous animals in South Africa

Do a search on google for “most dangerous animals in South Africa” and see what pops up! The St Lucia estuary is home to over 800 of them.

There are two ways to drive from Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp at Kruger National Park to St Lucia. The first way is solely on South Africa’s roads, while the second is a shorter route through Swaziland to St Lucia. Having tried both roads before, I would suggest taking the Swaziland road as it can save you around 45 minutes. Swaziland also has some magnificent landscapes for your viewing pleasure!

Border crossing at Swaziland
Border crossing at Swaziland

The only difference is that you may have to pay a small fee to your car rental company and do a border check at Swaziland. The border process is fuss-free and relatively simple. Just make sure you have the relevant documents from your car rental company and you would be good to go.

St Lucia is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal province. With outstanding natural wetland and coastal sites, it is also where iSimangaliso wetland park is located. The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, widely known as the oldest game reserve in South Africa and home to the world’s largest population of White Rhinos, is also located near St Lucia.

Sunset at St Lucia Estuary
Sunset at St Lucia Estuary

St Lucia Estuary

Due to its exceptional biodiversity and unique mosaic of ecosystems – swamps, lakes, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests, and grasslands – the area supports an astounding diversity of animal, bird and marine life.

Thus with the estuary and lake lands unique ecological processes, it is actually inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

Staying on Mckenzie Street would be a good choice as it contains restaurants, groceries, and souvenirs all lined up next to each other.

We stayed at Flamboyant House which was really value for money, especially so for its centralized location. Their apartments’ design is basic and maybe dated, but the space is HUGE. We had a living room, kitchen, 3-bed rooms for a very competitive price. It also comes with a swimming pool for our downtime in this resort-like city.

Falmboyant House Huts at St Lucia, South Africa
Flamboyant House Huts
Flamboyant House Huts comes with a living room and kitchen
Living room and kitchen
Bedroom of Flamboyant House huts
Two bed rooms of this size
Swimming pool at Flamboyant House Huts
Swimming pool at Flamboyant House Huts

Due to St Lucia being home to around 800 hippopotamus, you could even catch one roaming in the streets during the day! Just be careful as Hippos account for a few hundred deaths every year, even more than sharks. So it is always wise to keep a distance from them.

Hippo and Boat Cruise in St Lucia

St Lucia Estuary is home to more than 800 hippos, but also to more than 1200 Nile crocodiles. It is probably the only place in South Africa where you could view so many hippos and crocodiles up close.

There used to be a kayaking company, St Lucia Kayak Safaris, that runs kayaking trips on the very river the Hippos and Crocodiles reside in, but sadly it has ceased operations due to some licensing issues. Thus explains how dangerous these hippos and crocodiles can be!

Herds of Hippos at the St Lucia estuary
Herds of Hippos at the St Lucia estuary
A pair of Hippos submerged in the St Lucia Estuary
A pair of Hippos submerged in the St Lucia Estuary
Nile crocodile sighting at the St Lucia Estuary, South Africa
Nile crocodile spotted!
Up-close to the crocodile during our Hippo and Boat Cruise and St Lucia estuary in South Africa
Up-close to the crocodile

Heritage Tours and Safaris operates an excellent Hippo and Boat Cruise. At around 15 USD, one would enjoy a 2-hour long boat cruise along the estuary. With a 2-storey spacious cruise, you would be able to enjoy panoramic views of the landscape.

The captain doubles up as a tour guide, explaining biodiversity in St Lucia. I must emphasize that a good captain is necessary as some may not be able to navigate their cruise swiftly to ensure everyone gets a good glimpse of sightings.

Harbor for our Hippo and Croc Boat Cruise at St Lucia estuary in South Africa
Harbor for our Hippo and Croc Boat Cruise
Spacious cruise at Hippo and Boat Cruise at St Lucia estuary in South Africa
Spacious cruise at Hippo and Boat Cruise
Upper deck of our Hippo and Boat cruise at St Lucia estuary in South Africa
Upper deck of our cruise

Bull sharks also exists in the estuary! Keep a lookout for the Nile Crocodiles hidden in the tall grasslands. Hippos on the other, gather in herds and if you are lucky, you would be able to see them come out fully from the shallow waters.

This is one of the few marine safaris in South Africa that appeals to all kinds of crowds be it you are a swimmer or not. Thus you should really not miss this out even though it may be a little out of the way from Johannesburg. But if you plan this trip with our next item, the time spent on the road will be worth it.

2. Shark Snorkelling in Aliwal Shoal, Durban

Snorkel with the sharks at Aliwal Shoal, Durban
Snorkel with the sharks at Aliwal Shoal, Durban

As I was researching on the popular Great White Shark Cage Diving in Capetown, I chanced upon how you could actually snorkel(or even dive) cageless with sharks in Durban’s Aliwal Shoal.

Not for the faint-hearted, this is probably one of the most thrilling (yet safe) marine safaris in South Africa you can do. These sharks are not as large compared to the Great White Sharks, but still, they are big enough to excite your senses.

Durban is about a 2.5 hours drive from St Lucia, while Aliwal Shoal is about an extra hour of drive from Durban. Except for Sibaya Casino and the Entertainment Kingdom in Durban, there is not many tourist attractions for you to enjoy.

Together with its high crime rate, I would certainly advise you to skip Durban city and drive straight to Aliwal Shoal and stay for the night.

The Elephants Tusk
Seaside view in Aliwal Shoal
Seaside view in Aliwal Shoal

We stayed at The Elephants Tusk in Aliwal Shoal. Airbnb style, the room was situated on the second storey and was spacious with a modern design. There was even a swimming pool for guests to enjoy.

As tourists frequent Aliwal Shoal for its water activities, there is nothing much going on when night falls. As such, do give yourself a little splurge on a good seaside accommodation to wind down during this leg of the trip.

Shark Snorkeling with Blue Wilderness in 2017
Shark Snorkeling with Blue Wilderness in 2017!

Blue Wilderness is the go-to shark snorkeling and diving option in Aliwal Shoal. Having gone on my first trip with them in 2017, they have grown in size and shifted to a much larger accommodation in 2019. Other than conducting trips, they contribute knowledge and do research on shark conservation efforts too.

Contrary to common misconception, sharks actually do not attack humans if unprovoked. As long as you do not touch them unnecessarily or startle them, you would be safe.

Personally, I would still stick to the shark snorkeling option even though I have a diving certification. As most of the shark bait would be distributed at near-surface, the sharks would be circling around the surface instead of deep underwater.

Sharks circling at the surface beside our boat in Aliwal Shoal, South Africa
Sharks circling at the surface beside our boat!

Be in your dry clothing and bring along a swimwear. Wet-suits would be provided, along with your snorkeling gears. Snacks are also provided before and after the trip (very tasty sandwiches). An option of purchasing a video of the whole trip would also be made available if you did not bring along your underwater camera. You could also rent the underwater camera for a small fee. Hot shower facilities are also provided for the post-trip.

A lorry brings us from Blue Wilderness to the beach for our shark snorkel
A lorry brings us from Blue Wilderness to the beach for our shark snorkel

After a short briefing, we hopped onto a lorry of sorts, taking us to the beach. Here, we loaded up their speed boat which took us to about 1km away from shore.

Do take note that the ride is very bumpy. As someone who is not a fan of rollercoasters, it is probably the worst part of the trip for me. Bring along some sweets or take your sea-sick pills beforehand!

Once we reached our objective, the guide will proceed to throw shark bait into the water to attract sharks. Not before long, you would see fins circling around your boat! This is also the time where we started to jump into the water.

Preparing for our boat launch for shark snorkeling in South Africa
Preparing for our boat launch for shark snorkeling
At the shore of Aliwal Shoal
At the shore of Aliwal Shoal
Shark fins spotted before our shark snorkeling begun
Shark fins spotted
Suited up for the cold water shark snorkel
Suited up for the cold water shark snorkel
Crystal clear water to welcome our sharks in Aliwal Shoal
Crystal-clear water to welcome our sharks
The sharks are here, signalling the start of our shark snorkeling in South Africa
The sharks are here!
Descending into the shark infested waters in Aliwal Shoal
Descending into the shark infested waters
A shark instantly swim towards me upon my descent in Aliwal Shoal
A shark instantly swim towards me upon my descent
Sharks all around us

This is where you would spend a good 30 minutes to an hour (depending on your fitness) being in the middle of circling sharks. The sharks would get so close that their body and fins would brush against you. Keep your hands to yourselves as it has been mentioned in the briefing so as to not be mistaken for shark bait.

Using a gopro to film my shark snorkeling in South Africa
Keeping my hands to myself even when taking photos
The sharks swims really near you during your shark snorkeling in South Africa
The sharks swims really near you
The sharks can bump into you during your shark snorkeling in South Africa
And even bump into you

You could have the option to swim around yourself, or if you find the waves too bumpy, you could hold onto a log and hang on there for a more consistent view.

The smoothness of your tour in the water really depends on the weather conditions. My first trip was fuss-free with calm and steady waves, while my second time doing it was riddled with heavy and bumpy waves.

Hold on to the log for a smoother swim during your shark snorkeling with Blue Wilderness
Hold on to the log for a smoother swim

Having watched movies like Jaws during my childhood, I never imagined I would one day be able to swim alongside them. At any one time, as many as 20 sharks would be circling around you.

You are able to witness up-close how they interact during feeding and their graceful and elegance movement through the water. One of the most thrilling marine safaris in South Africa you could do, I highly recommend trying for it together with the Hippo and Boat Cruise in nearby St Lucia.

As sharks are an endangered species, do register with companies that are reputable. This would ensure they operate within conversationalist laws and protect these amazing creatures from extinction. Blue Wilderness is a good go-to option, and I guarantee you would not regret your trip with them.

Reliving Jaws through shark snorkeling in South Africa
Reliving Jaws through shark snorkeling in South Africa

Off to Cape Town

Garden route drive
Garden Route drive

If you have time, you could opt for the Garden Route drive to Cape Town from Aliwal Shoal. Otherwise, taking a budget flight from Durban would save a lot of time.

Budget airline with Mango Air
Budget airline with Mango Air
Flying with Mango Air to Cape Town
Flying with Mango Air to Cape Town

Cape Town is famous for its picturesque scenery and its natural landscapes. What many do not know is also the diversified marine wildlife on display around its coasts. From cute penguins to the cage diving with Great White Sharks, Capetown is a gold mine for marine safaris in South Africa.

Picturesque scenery in Capetown
Picturesque scenery in Capetown

As marine safaris in requires appropriate weather conditions, I would suggest arranging activities that require you to head out to the open sea at the earliest possibility. This is so that if the weather does turn bad on the day of your tour, you would have extra days to make up for the experience.

As such, I had planned for a full 4 nights in Capetown. Together with the marine safaris would also be sightseeing which I would cover in my next blog post. One would need about 3 days to complete the marine safaris depending on your fitness and energy level, leaving an extra 1 day as precaution for bad weather.

Snorkeling with Cape Fur Seals

Seal Snorkeling with Animal Ocean
Seal Snorkeling with Animal Ocean

Duiker Island is an island off Hout Bay in Cape Town. It is a small island of an area of only about 0.4 hectares. It is also home to about 5000 Cape Fur Seals.

You could go on a Duiker Island Boat Trip to view these seals onboard, but I would recommend swimming/snorkeling with them. That is if you have the fitness level and swimming ability to do so as you would have to be a decent swimmer to contend with the tides. For a much more tame experience, you could even catch seals at the V and A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Seals sunbathing at the V&A WaterFront
Seals sunbathing at the V&A WaterFront
Up-close to a sunbathing Seal in the V&A Waterfront
Up-close to a sunbathing Seal in the V&A Waterfront

Animal Ocean prides itself on being the best service provider of snorkeling with Cape Fur Seals and they certainly did not disappoint the experience. Again, with snacks and snorkeling gear provided, all you have to do is buy a ticket and turn up.

This is the only place in South Africa and one of the only few in the world where you could snorkel with this much Cape Fur Seals. Marine safaris in South Africa do not get as much fun as swimming with these cute seals!

Gearing up for our Seal Snorkel in Capetown
Gearing up for our Seal snorkel in Capetown
Duiker Island has backdrop to the Table Mountain in Cape Town
Duiker Island has backdrop to the Table Mountain

Upon gearing up, you would be taken on a speed boat ride to Duiker Island before your snorkel. Just like the earlier shark snorkeling trip, the ride would be bumpy too, so get those sea-sick pills and sweets ready.

Once you reach Duiker Island, it is snorkeling time and you would have unrestricted swimming time for about an hour or so. You could even attempt to swim near Duiker Island if the waves are not too challenging. Just take note that unlike sharks, seals are actually more aggressive and tend to bite when feeling a little bit threatened. So as cute as they look, do keep a safe distance and respect the animals!

Island of seals, Duiker Island right behind me
Island of seals, Duiker Island right behind me
Fully suited and ready to snorkel with the Cape Fur Seals
Fully suited and ready to snorkel with the Cape Fur Seals

Swimming near Duiker Island takes a bit of skill due to the waves that accompany the area. The seals roam everywhere and anywhere, and you can catch them underwater or swim along the surface.

Swimming the the seals at Cape Town, South Africa
Hard to catch a picture with the extremely fast seals

Unlike the sharks in Aliwal Shoal, they are much faster and swifter, so getting a picture with them would require some strong balance in the water.

If possible do go for a wristband gear that holds your underwater camera in place, as the waves are strong and may sweep your camera away. Better yet a seal may bite it too!

Snorkeling with the Cape Fur Seals

Crocodile Cage Diving

Le Bonheur Croc Farm
Le Bonheur Croc Farm

There are only two places in the world to offer Crocodile Cage Diving. One is at the Crocosaurus Cove in Australia and the other, African Crocdive, is in Cape Town, South Africa.

African Crocdive is located in the heart of the Winelands on the world-renowned Le Bonheur crocodile farm, housing more than 1000 crocodiles, approximately 30minutes drive from Cape Town. You could also book a transport directly from them to take you to and fro Cape Town. Many tourists also take the chance to do a tour of the Winelands while doing the crocodile dive.

The crocodile farm is like an educational museum of sorts, detailing facts about crocodiles and displaying exhibits.

Baby crocodiles in the museum of African Croc Dive
Baby crocodiles in the museum of African Croc Dive
Educational Museum in African Croc Dive
Educational Museum in African Croc Dive
All suited up for our Crocodile Cage Diving at the African Croc Dive
All suited up for our Crocodile Cage Diving at the African Croc Dive

Crocodile Cage Diving, together with the Great White Shark Cage Diving is definitely the closest you can get to dangerous animals in South Africa marine safaris. With only a cage separating you and these carnivorous animals, it is a must-do for thrill-seekers.

After the briefing, you would be guided to the platform of the crocodile cage are. Here, you can slowly descend to the bottom of the cage through a ladder.

Our cage is circled by crocodiles!
Our cage is circled by crocodiles!
Descending into the Croc Cage at African Croc Dive, South Africa
Descending into the Croc Cage!

The water is shallow, and you would be able to have your head above water if you stand. Anytime you want to peek at the crocodiles, you just take a dive, hold your breathe, and stay underwater.

The water is EXTREMELY COLD! So my advice is other than the wet suit they provide, bring an extra full thermal suit to enjoy the maximum experience. As I did not have one, it shortened my viewing experience to just about 10 minutes. Any more I would have felt near to hypothermia!

Into the crocodile cage in South Africa
Into the crocodile cage!
The crocodiles get attracted to the cage with bait
The crocodiles get attracted to the cage with bait
Crocodiles eating the bait right next to our cage during the dive
Crocodiles eating the bait right next to our cage during the dive

The guide would proceed to throw meat near the cage, attracting the crocodiles to feed on them right next to you.

Unlike the Crocosaurus Cove where the viewing platform is fully covered up, the cage here is literally just a cage. The small holes in the cage create a more up-close yet, intimidating atmosphere with these crocodiles. Do keep your hands inside the cage at all times!

Challenge your fears!
Right beside the crocodile during my Crocodile Cage Diving in South Africa
Right beside the crocodile

You do not need to have much swimming abilities to do this tour. Just basic underwater breath-holding skills coupled with water confidence. What is more important is your courage to withstand the cold water and be up-close to these magnificent reptiles. If you are able to, you would definitely have a thriller of time among you marine safaris in South Africa.

5. Kayaking with Dolphins

Entrance of Kaskazi Kayaks
Entrance of Kaskazi Kayaks
Inside Kaskazi Kayaks
Inside Kaskazi Kayaks
Choosing our Kayaks in Kaskazi Kayaks
Choosing our Kayaks

For people who want to get some exercise in and do not mind a good work out, you could sign up for a kayak tour in Cape Town. Our pick was to do so with Kaskazi Kayaks.

During this 2 hours long kayak, you would not only be able to witness a glimpse of dolphins and other marine animals swimming around you. This is done while you kayak right next to the magnificent Table Mountain. With the splendid views on offer, the guide will guide you to the mid-point before taking a u-turn back to shore.

Kayaking right beside Table Mountain
Kayaking right beside Table Mountain
Kayaking right beside Table Mountain
Exhausted after 2 hours of non-stop kayaking with Kaskazi Kayaks
Exhausted after 2 hours of non-stop kayaking

You need to have good fitness to do this! Out of all the marine safaris in South Africa, this was by far the most tiring one which was more like a sport than tour.

Even though we were tired with the non-stop paddling about half an hour in, we still had to carry on kayaking to keep in touch with the pace of the group. You would need to do this for 2 hours! We were so tired we could barely react fast enough for a photo of the dolphins and penguins swimming beside us.

You do not need to have previous experience with kayaking, but swimming abilities are a must even though you would be on lifejackets. This is because the tour actually brings you quite far away from shore and for your own safety, make sure you can swim well.

6. Penguins at Boulder Beach

Penguins at the Boulder Beach
Penguins at the Boulder Beach

It would be best to include this marine safari when you are doing your must-see Cape Peninsula tour. Along the way, you would pass by Simon’s Town, the home of Boulder Beach. A small conversation fee is needed to enter the area.

Entrance to Boulder Beach
Entrance to Boulder Beach
Penguins' information at Boulder Beach
Penguin’s information at Boulder Beach
Greeted with a sight full of penguins at Boulder Beach
Greeted with a sight full of penguins at Boulder Beach
Penguins are everywhere at Boulder Beach
Penguins are everywhere at Boulder Beach
Penguins everywhere

Wandering freely around the beach, the penguin colony has settled down here since the 1980s. You could take a short walk or a longer hike around the park which is made up of broadways, and penguins may pop out from everywhere!

Do take note that you are not allowed to touch or come into direct contact with the penguins as they are a part of the Marine Protected Area.

Boulder Beach's broadways
Boulder Beach’s broadways
Explore the broadways at Boulders Beach
Explore the broadways at Boulders Beach
Penguins appear can everywhere and anywhere in Boulders Beach
Penguins appear can everywhere and anywhere in Boulders Beach
Penguins appear everywhere and anywhere in Boulders Beach
Penguins appear everywhere and anywhere in Boulders Beach

For a clearer and up-close view, you should attempt to reach Foxy Beach from one of the broadways.

The penguins have their nest sites at Foxy Beach, and a viewing platform here gives you an elevated view of the penguins socializing. If it is wintertime and you are lucky, you may even spot migrating humpback and Southern Right whales in the bay.

Up-close with a penguin at Foxy Beach
Up-close with a penguin at Foxy Beach

7. Cage Diving with the Great White Sharks

Cage diving with the Great White Sharks
Cage Diving with the Great White Sharks

I believe everyone would have seen a movie or a show or two about the dangers of the Great White Sharks. Compared to a regular shark, they are often considered as the most fearsome creature to find yourself within the ocean. This was supposed to be the most thrilling marine safaris in South Africa together with Crocodile Cage Diving.

We had booked our Great White Shark Tour with Shark Cage Diving by Brian Mcfalane. Rated as one of the top few cage diving tours in Gansbaai, we anticipated the best that would come with the trip.

Gansbaai is considered the top spot for sightings of Great White Shark, and is routinely termed as ” Shark Alley”. There was no better way to experience a Great White Shark up close than here!

Gansbaai, "Shark Alley"
Gansbaai, “Shark Alley”
Harbor at Gansbaai
Harbor at Gansbaai

Yet we were caught with some pretty bad news during our shark snorkeling tour earlier in Aliwal Shoal. It had come to the light of shark divers, that Great White Shark sighting has been reduced to almost zero in ‘Shark Alley’, Gansbaai, in the past few days.

A Great White Shark carcass was also found on the shore. The resulting investigation was that the presence of Orcas had appeared, more commonly known as the killer whale, and they were feasting on the Great Whites.

I hoped in anticipation that our tour would go on.

One day before our trip, we received a message from Shark Cage Diving that the news was confirmed and sightings are indeed down to a few over the week. We could still take the chance to go ahead with the trip, and as the website had promised previously if there were no sightings, we would have a full-money-back guarantee.

Very disappointed, but nonetheless we decided to take our chances with nothing to lose.

Briefing before Great White Shark Cage Diving
Briefing before Great White Shark Cage Diving
Sumptuous breakfast spread served at Shark Cage Diving
Sumptuous breakfast spread served
Sumptuous post-trip meal served at Shark Cage Diving
They serve post-trip meal too

We were up early at 4 am where a van picked us up from Cape Town and dropped us off at Gansbaai. Here we were served a sumptuous buffet breakfast before our briefing. The boat that we boarded was spacious, and also loaded with snacks and drinks. The service was splendid just like the reviews described.

Getting ready to board the Apex Predator
Getting ready to board the Apex Predator
Our boat, the "Apex Predator"
Our boat, the “Apex Predator”

After a short bumpy boat ride, one of the workers proceeded to throw a special chum mixture into the ocean. This was, as a read, a mixture of fish guts and other fishy part, all designed to attract the Great Whites to our boat.

Instructions was given on how we were to be deployed. We would simply enter the cage in about groups of 4. We would be able to breathe when we stand straight. Just like the Crocodile Cage Diving, all we had to do was to hold our breathe and lower ourselves down underwater for the sightings.

Yet it was really not our day! The water was very murky and as much as the guide tried to use the chum to attract the sharks, we did not get any to come at all. One Great White did appear around one hour into the trip, but it was only for a sporadic moment and it left afterso.

Cage for our Great White Shark Cage Diving
Cage for our Great White Shark Cage Diving
Upper deck for viewing on our shark diving boat
Upperdeck for viewing too
Boat crew working on the chum bait for the Great White Sharks
Boat crew working on the chum bait for the Great White Sharks
Fishy smell in the Great White Shark chum bait
Fishy smell in the Great White Shark chum bait

I had read that the week that I was there, was also the exact week that begun a long disappearance act by the Great White Sharks in Gansbaai. Since then, the Great Whites sightings have never fully recovered. Recent checks also show that many of the cage diving companies do not offer money-back guarantee anymore.

No great white shark sighting at Gansbaai
No Great White Shark sightings at Gansbaai

It was indeed a near-perfect trip with perfect weather so far. I was able to complete all my marine safaris in South Africa, yet this one came up short. It highlighted to me how unpredictable wildlife is, and we have got to appreciate the chance for any beautiful sightings that come our way.

Fortunately, the news is that Great White Sharks sightings are still present, and copper sharks are more of the frequent sightings now.

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbei of the Planetd and Matthew of Expert Vagabound has a fantastic write up with pictures on their lucky sightings of the Great White Sharks. They had done their dives with White Shark Projects and Marine Dynamics, both reputable companies in the region which you could also choose from. Do give their successful trip a read-up.

Gansbaai, South Africa
Not so lucky in Gansbaai this time

8. Whale Watching

Driving to Hermanus
Drving to Hermanus

Within a short 1.5 hours drive away from Capetown is Hermanus, one of the best spots worldwide for whale watching. Whale watching season though, only runs from June to October, with good sightings only really springing up in July. As such, I missed participating in the sightings as my trips have always not met the months.

That said, if you are lucky and you happen to be in Capetown or traveling along the Garden Route, this would be a great addition to your marine safaris in South Africa.

You could either do a tour with one of the more popular cruises, Southern Right Charters , where they would take you to Walker Bay where the whales are commonly spotted. Or you could even splurge a bit to go all aerial with Oceans Africa or Percy Tours where you would be taken on a helicopter ride and fly ride above the whales.

Conclusion

Snorkel with sharks in South Africa
Immerse yourself in the marine environment

Marine Safaris in South Africa, unlike land safaris, allows you the opportunity to dive and swim right next to the marine animals. This is to the point where they can even brush or touch you. Land safaris on the other hand, would only allow you to be up-close via your vehicle at most.

As such, the thrill that comes with participating in marine safaris in South Africa is unlike those on land. Being able to venture into the marine animal’s habitat and partake in their movements together brings you into nature on another level.

That said, as mentioned before, the ocean is a vast mystery. It is unpredictable and many occurrences are not seen by our naked eye. Sightings are more infrequent and seasonal.

Events like the famous Sardine Run (commonly known as the great marine migration) only occurs between May to July, while Whale Watching season is only between June to October. Sometimes you may get unlucky and Orcas will drive away your Great White Shark sightings like me!

With some luck and some detailed planning of season, you can definitely increase your chances of experiencing the best marine safaris in South Africa.

Are there any other methods or spots that could increase your chance of better Marine Safaris that I have missed out? Together with those who were lucky to experience the Great White Shark cage diving or the Sardine Run recently, do comment, share, and fill us with more travel tips.

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