The Sharklady Adventures Great White Cage Diving South Africa Ripoff post is part of the South America & Africa Points Heist Trip Report.
Warning! Warning! Warning! Do not go shark cage diving in Gansbaai before reading this post. The first time I was in Cape Town, I tried to book Great White cage diving. The night before, the company cancelled because it couldn’t provide transportation. This time, I went out of my way to make sure that I would not miss out on the experience. I survived bungee jumping in Victoria Falls and was excited to defy death by swimming with Great Whites. Or so I thought.
The night before, the tour company, SharkLady Adventures, called to confirm that they would be arriving at 3am. We were told that there was no guarantee that we would see Great Whites because, according to the tour operator, they had not been seen in a few days. Hoping for the best, I went to bed early and prepared for the three hour drive to Gansbaai. Upon arriving, I was told the same line: “We do not know if we will see Great Whites, they haven’t been around for a few days.”
After a safety demonstration, in which the tour guide said that punching an attacking Great White in the nose is not advisable, we were ready to set sail. The boat headed out a few nautical miles from shore and each member of the group was told to change into wetsuits (which were still wet) and wait for our turn to head into the cage. It was very cold day and I was not looking forward to going into the freezing water. At the same time, it was not pleasant to sit on the deck in a damp wetsuit as the howling winds swirled.
For about an hour, the crew threw chum into the water along with a fishhead on a string which apparently would entice the Great White to pay a visit. Simultaneously, the crew continued to say that they did not know if we would see sharks today. All of a sudden, a shark appeared. The crew tried to get everyone excited, but nobody was thrilled because these sharks were not the Great Whites that we had hoped to see.
In case you forgot what a real Great White looks like, here are the photos from SharkLady’s brochure:
One group after another went into the cage. One group after another came out of the cage quite disappointed that they could not reenact a scene from Jaws. Finally, it was my turn to go into the cage. The water was absolutely ice cold. I sat in that damn cage for thirty minutes while the crew tried to attract the sharks. The same docile ones came by. Like the other groups, I did hear the duh nuh overture.
Finally, we were pulled from the water and went back to the safety of land.
The whole thing was a waste of time apart from these sexy glamour shots that I had to take to compete with this guy who brought his own wetsuit (same guy who brought his own goggles).
On the way home, I googled ‘Gansbaai No Great Whites’. Here were the results:
Irritated, I began reading reviews including this one. As it turns out, the orca has been killing the Great White sharks in numbers for months. It devastated the population of the Great Whites in Gansbaai and has crippled the cage diving industry. Instead of telling us about this new phenomena, the crooked tour operators pretended that it was an anomaly.
On the drive back, I emailed the tour company the following:
My fiancee and I booked your company this morning for shark cage diving. We were disappointed with the experience and are requesting a refund. To be clear, the refund is not because we did not see Great Whites. The refund is because we were not told ahead of time that there were killer whales in the area and the likelihood of seeing great whites was diminished. Other companies contact clients and provide this information ahead of time along with the option to cancel the trip.
Had I been given this information, I wouldn’t have woken up at 3AM, drove six hours round-trip, and wasted half a day to not see great whites.
This lack of communication is unacceptable and if I do not receive a prompt refund, I will have no choice but to contact Protea by Marriott (the hotel that referred me), followed by my credit card company to dispute the charge.
Again, not seeing Great Whites is not the issue. The issue is not being given the information ahead of time and the opportunity to cancel. Here is the TripAdvisor thread that details another tourist’s experience. Note that he or she was given the option to cancel at no charge. Also note that it was written on October 21st which shows that the companies were aware of the issue then. Indeed, our guide today told us of the killer whale problem but only after we had arrived.
The more I read, the more angry I became. I followed up that email with another:
Upon further research, the problem is worse than I thought. Operators have known for months of the Orca problem. This isn’t an unfortunate coincidence. This is deception. See the screenshot attached.
Why not be honest with tourists instead of carrying on the charade of taking people out on the boat and pretending to be excited when a different kind of shark shows up? That’s like going on a safari and equating a hyena with a lion.
I expect my refund today.
SharkLady Adventures ignored me. Chase denied my claim because SharkLady by conflating that there is no guarantee to see Great White disclaimer with not telling its guests that there’s a massacre being carried out by Willy being free. I’m still working with Marriott to see if they will do anything. Bottom line, TPOL was hustled!
When I was in Tahiti, I swam with Blacktip reef sharks. That was an experience. This was a scam ripoff in the amount of $330 for two people.