Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
Yes
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Gansbaai, South Africa, is home to a relatively large population of great white sharks due in part to its proximity to several large seal colonies off of the coast. The sharks vacated the area for a couple years due to the presence of orcas in the area hunting them down for their livers. The orcas are now gone, and great whites are back and have been spotted on almost all the tours going out. While no tours can guarantee sightings of these apex predators, chances are better here than almost anywhere else in the world. The location is frequently featured in documentaries and has been the highlight of several Shark Week episodes over the years. So, if you find yourself in Cape Town or in the vicinity, this is a bucket list item not to be missed.

The drive from Cape Town takes about two hours, but most tour operators provide door-to-door transportation, so inquire when booking. If staying in Gansbaai, there are many options for accommodations, but book early. All the necessary equipment is provided by the tour operators, including wet suits and snacks. The waters of Gansbaai are seriously cold, and its possible to spend 30 minutes in the cage at a time, so make sure the wet suit fits well. It’s also a good idea to bring a rash guard for a little extra insulation.

If getting up close to sharks in frigid waters isn’t high on your list, but you want to observe, there is an option to stay on the boat and watch from above. Bring a warm coat, beanie, and gloves as the air temperature can be cold as well. Also, several species of whales migrate of the South African coast and whale watching tours can be booked in the area seasonally.

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Close encounters with wild apex predator. Guided day tours.

Cons

Cold water. No guarantee of shark encounter.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Boat ramp(s)
Wildlife
Fishing
Marina
Flushing toilets
Family friendly
Guided tours
Potable water
Bird watching
Whale watching

Location

Field Guide

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