Situated only 8 miles (about 16km) from Simonstown, Seal Island in False Bay is home to 75 000 Cape fur seals, 24 different bird species and is famed as the hunting grounds of the great white shark. The main breeding season for the Cape fur seal is November and December, when almost 20 000 pups are born.
However, it is the winter months that are thrilling. Then the great white sharks are extremely active around the island and natural predations are often witnessed. The high numbers of predator-naïve seal pups in the water around the island make for easy prey for dozens of enormous great white sharks.
The shark diving here is therefore ranked amongst the best in the world. Guests may even be lucky enough to witness a great white shark ‘breaching’. This is a hunting technique that great white sharks employ to surprise and kill their prey. They breach with such force and explosive energy that it propels the shark completely clear of the water. This unique behaviour occurs from May to September. It is most commonly witnessed just around sunrise as the exhausted seals return from their hunting forays. It is an incredibly rare shark behaviour and a ‘once in a lifetime’ sight to witness.
There are only a couple of other sites on earth that offer this kind of shark viewing. It is the single largest factor that differentiates the shark diving experience in False Bay to others. The shark viewing around Dyer Island, Gansbaai, is however an excellent experience in its own right. Guest can get ‘up close and personal’ with these ocean giants from the safety of a steel cage. They also often encounter whales, dolphins and seals on the trips. Additionally, this activity is available all year round.
Insider tip: Guests do not necessarily need to enter the cage at all if they are not keen on this aspect. The sharks approach the boat from all angles and the visibility into the water is often very high. Many guests enjoy an amazing shark viewing experience from the comfort of the deck.
The table below summarises the differences between shark experiences from either False Bay/Simonstown or Gansbaai/Hermanus:
|May - September only||All year|
|45 minutes’ drive from CT||1 hour 30 minutes’ drive from CT|
|Breaching possible on AM tours||No Breaching|
|Maximum 12 PAX per boat||Maximum 40 PAX per boat|
|2 persons per cage||4 – 8 persons per cage|
|Possible to incorporate into Full Day Peninsula Tour||Possible to incorporate into Full Day Hermanus Tour|