I have just returned from a trip to South Africa with my girlfriend, we travelled along the garden route from Port Elizabeth - Mossel bay, then from Oudtshoorn - Cape Town (Route 62). Anyways down to business, one of the main attractions we wanted to do in SA was shark diving, obviously with a company operating from Mossel bay we thought this would be ideal as it was on the garden route......how wrong were we??
First of all we should have seen the warning sign, only one operator working in that area. When we turned up on the morning of the dive the first person we met was a South African girl who had wasted 3 days of her holiday hoping to see sharks in Mossel Bay, she had also met people in the hostel who had gone on the boat the previous 3 days to her and they had not seen any sharks either, that’s approx one week of no sightings, you are issued with a voucher for a free trip if no sharks are sighted but for the majority of people on holidays this is useless due to time constraints. My advice for anyone wishing to see sharks is to drive down the coast to Kleinbaai (Gansbaai) to Brian McFarlane’s boat Apex Predator (www.sharkcagediving.net ).
One thing which caught me out in when booking Mossel Bay was the mention of seal island and breaching, being an avid national geographic fan I had heard of seal island on numerous documentaries.....little did I know there’s a load of “seal islands” in south Africa, practically one in every bay...however the most famous one is Dyer island which can be easily reached from Kleinbaai (@15 min boat trip)., this is where the famous shark alley is located.
Having not seen any sharks in Mossel bay we bit the bullet and wrote off the loss knowing we would have to pay for it again somewhere else to actually see the sharks. We eventually got around to booking with www.sharkcagediving.net (where I was not blasted with buzz words like “seal island” and “breaching” while booking, I was simply told there was 11 sharks the day before and 9 the day before that) and we were not disappointed, we saw approx 5 different sharks on our trip and this was classed as a very slow day. Brian’s boat stay’s out on the water a lot longer than the other operators, he has a bigger boat with a bigger cage, allowing more people in the water. He only has one sailing a day which departs at 10 and stays out all day long, other operators in the area have two sailings each day.
Summary - Drive the extra couple of hours down the coast for (practically) guaranteed shark sightings, do not fall into the trap for the sheer Garden Route convenience of the Mossel bay operator where there is a good chance you’ll be left disappointed.