Great White sharks are the most famous of sharks to the non-diving community, they’re world-renowned and feared because of the movie Jaws. This movie instilled fear in people of sharks that still evens lasts to this day sadly.
For some people, the very thought of encountering these sharks underwater is terrifying, but for a lot of the scuba diving community, the thought is thrilling. Even the most seasoned divers will likely experience a feeling of vulnerability when they first dive with the ocean’s most intimidating predator.
Some Quick Facts About Great White Sharks
Before you decide to dive with Great White sharks or not you should know about this marine create and make your decision from there.
- Locations– Coastal waters all over the world but the highest concentration is off the coasts of the USA, South Africa, Japan, Oceania, Chile, and the Mediterranean.
- Odds of Being Attacked – 1 in 3.7 million. On average, shark fatalities are limited to 2 per year, and that’s across all species, around the whole world. You are in fact far more likely to be killed by a coconut, your flip-flops, or a vending machine.
- Average Size– 1,150 to 2,400 pounds (520 to 1,100 kg) Females:15 to 16 feet ( 4.6-5m) Males: 11.2 to 13.2 feet (3.4 to 4.1m)
- Diet– Fish, seals, sea lions, sea turtles, seabirds, and sometimes whales (not humans)
- Life Span– Average is about 30 years but some are as old as 70 years.
- Preferred Water Temperature- They like colder waters between53 – 75°F (12 – 24°C) but have been found on the other side of those temperatures.
- Top Speed: 35 mph (56 kph)
- Tooth Count: 300 serrated teeth in five rows that fall out are replaced as they age and they have over 200,000 teeth over a lifetime.
- Predators: Humans, Orcas (killer whales), and other sharks are the only creatures brave enough to attack them.
- Extinction Rate– They listen as a Vulnerable species and humans kill 100 million sharks every year.
What Is Shark Cage Diving?
Most people do not get in the water to dive with these sharks without a cage.
These sharks are not always aggressive per se but a lot of these dive operations do bait the sharks and this can lead to bites. It is just safer in general and also puts the diver’s mind at ease even if they are not baiting or chumming the water.
The shark cage is usually a metal or high-tensile strength material that gives divers and non-divers a safe space to be underwater with minimal risk. You can wear your dive gear of a hookah, or even snorkel depending on the site.
Cage diving is very safe but you should still take some safety precautions.
- Never put any limb outside the cage. Extending a limb exposes you to the risk of losing it.
- Remain calm and try to breathe normally. One is to conserve air and the other is that you probably won’t be in the cage alone and running into people is dangerous and not polite.
- Hold on to the cage were instructed to. If the cage ever moves, you will not smash into the walls or roof.
- Don’t enter the cage with your camera. Get in safely and have a crew hand you the cameras to avoid dropping or it hits the cage.
Know that you are educated and excited to dive with sharks check out the list of the best places to go diving with Great White sharks below.
Diving With Great White Sharks In Isla Guadalupe, Mexico
Isla Guadalupe is undoubtedly the best place in the world to go diving with Great White sharks. This uninhabited volcanic island is a solid 150 miles (240 km) off the coast of Baja California. This beautiful but remote island is only accessible by a few epic liveaboards.
Departing from San Diego in the USA or Ensenada in Mexico, most liveaboards offer 5 or 6-day trips with three days of cage diving! The water ranges from 70 to 75°F (21-24°C) and notoriously the visibility often soars above 100 feet (30M). That’s pretty warm and clear in the world of Great whites. The tour is suitable for all levels of divers and non-divers alike.
The best times are from July to November for a chance to witness this wildlife encounter. The juvenile males turn up early for the chance to mate, while larger more established males come from September onwards.
The females appear later in October, and while this is when the weather starts to change, it’s a great time to visit with sharks en masse. Nearly 300 Great whites visit Guadalupe every year so the statistics are in your favor for an epic experience.
Diving With Great White Sharks At The Neptune Islands, Australia
Deep in the Southern Ocean lies the Neptune Islands, a rugged place that seriously puts South Australia on the map for Great White shark diving. The Islands lie in the Spencer Gulf, a three-hour boat ride from Port Lincoln, just west of the capital, Adelaide. It’s the only part of Australia where you can get face-to-face with the ocean’s biggest apex predator.
The best time to go is from May to October when juvenile seal pups first start testing out their swimming skills and are easy prey for the sharks. The operators run year-round and the peak season is over the Christmas holidays.
The best thing about Port Lincoln is there are a couple of operators offering both day tours and longer liveaboards. They even offer the unique opportunity to do ocean-floor shark cage diving. Most shark cage diving is done at the surface by hookah or snorkeling, but these operators offer this with both hookah and scuba diving.
The reason is to see the sharks at the bottom versus at the surface when they’re investigating the cages or feeding. All operators here do use chumming techniques (which is a debate on ethics and you should make your own choice whether this is something for you).
Australia is actually the home of shark cage diving – giving an authentic experience to witness these incredible creatures in their homes. You may notice a running theme here Great Whites like cold water and the temperatures can drop down to 57°F (14°C) in the winter.
The liveaboard operators actually helped take the footage for the infamous JAWS movie, and all operators are involved in research of the animals, transparently documenting their sightings of the Great White sharks.
A side bonus is that this location is the chance to swim with the endangered Australian sea lion. Of course, this is done in a safe place away from where the big sharks like to hang out. Known as the puppies of the ocean, it’s a very different experience from swimming with sharks, but just about as fun.
Diving With Great White Sharks At Farallon Islands, USA
29 miles from San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Bridge lies the Farallon Islands, a National Marine Sanctuary, and home to an impressive five species of sea lions and seals. The elephant seals seem particularly delicious to migrating Great Whites, who stop here to feed on their journey to the mid-Pacific.
The sharks appear from July to January and you could be lucky enough to see some of the 100 different documented sharks that pass through each year. This includes some of the largest Great Whites to have ever been recorded! This is the only place in the USA you can consistently find and dive with them..
The best time to dive is from late September to the end of November during the peak hunting festivities. Beware though – you shouldn’t be so scared of the sharks but of the water temperature! It’s usually a chilly 53 to 57°F (12-14°C).
At the Farallon Islands, they used mammal-shaped decoys to attract sharks, rather than chum or shark bait, which is good. From a conservation perspective, this significantly reduces the environmental impact of the activity and limits interference with normal feeding.
From an ethical and sustainability standpoint, this is one of the best places in the world to dive with Great white sharks. The operations allow these creatures to thrive and exist relatively undisturbed. They also support vital research and it helps raise public awareness of these incredible creatures, dispelling myths about how dangerous they are and how we can coexist alongside them in harmony.
Diving With Great White Sharks In Western Cape, South Africa
Dyer Island- South Africa’s southwestern tip was colloquially known as the Great white shark capital of the world. Home to a 200-mile (320 KM) stretch of coastline between Gansbaai and Mossel Bay, peppered with the big dogs of the ocean. A few miles out from Gansbaai is Dyer Island, populated with 60,000 Cape fur seals and many penguins, which attracted what was once the densest congregation of Great whites.
Shark Alley is the infamous dive site, although since 2017 the number of sharks has dropped off a cliff. It’s thought Orca predation pushed the population downwards, and now the area has been taken over by Bronze whalers. The area is very accessible and popular as you can access the sharks by day trip, even to non-divers, which is much easier and more affordable but, less exclusive.
You can dive with sharks here all year, but the best chance of sightings is between May and October. It’s a bit chillier down here, with the water temperature dropping to 57°F (14°C) in July and reaching 73°F (23°C) at the end of January.
False Bay -False Bay is easily accessible just off the coast of Cape Town. Just 22 miles (35km) south is Seal Island, which was once known as another of the Great whites hotspots. The sharks used to ‘fly’ to the surface to attack their prey. Diving with great whites in the Western Cape province of South Africa is possible all year round. The coast is calmer during the winter months of June to August, although you can expect colder water then too.
Operators still run in both Dyer Island and False Bay, although the shark sightings have dropped off, it’s not to say they won’t return in the future.
Dive In With The Greats
Do we have you convinced that diving with Great white sharks, the scariest fish in the ocean is a great idea? People wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a good idea, right? So dive on in and tell us about your experiences in the comments below!