A great white-knuckle ride
Shark Alley, a sea channel off the Cape coast, is a hunting ground for sharks, including massive great white sharks. Adrenaline junkies looking for intimate shark experiences can do so on cage-diving expeditions in the channel, although equally as impressive sightings are afforded those visitors who’d prefer to stay dry.
Shark Cage- Diving
Shark Alley is renowned the world over as one of the top commercial cage-diving destinations. Not surprising, given that it is home to one of the largest populations of Great White Sharks in the world.
Lying just a few kilometres south of the small fishing village of Gansbaai, Shark Alley is actually a narrow channel of water that runs between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. It's thanks to the 50 000-odd Cape fur seals on Dyer Island that the channel is so named, for these furry mammals are favorite snacks for Great White Sharks. As a result, the sharks trawl the alley in their thousands looking for their next meal.
Cage-diving is definitely the most thrilling of all activities, where divers are lowered into the water in secure cages, providing face-to-face encounters with these creatures of the deep. Divers don't have to be scuba-qualified to cage-dive, as the cage actually floats, with part of it remaining out of the water.
Visitors preferring to watch from the safety of the boat certainly won't miss out on any of the action, as the sharks remain just under the surface of the water and come right up to the boat. During peak season, between June and September, onboard spectators may also see Great Whites breaching – a fascinating and awe-inspiring display of these sharks' unique hunting habits.
Whale-watching along the Gansbaai coast is also excellent, particularly between May and December when Southern Right Whales come to mate, calve and nurse their young.
There are also a number of hikes and walking trails around the cliffs of De Kelders at Gansbaai, which feature caves to explore, abundant fynbos and spectacular ocean views.
How to get here
Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Cape Town International Airport. From Cape Town, take the N2 highway east to Hermanus and then the R43 to Gansbaai.
Best time to visit
Between June and September to see Great White Sharks and between May and December to view Southern Right Whales.