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Best Great White Sharks & Whales Trips In South Africa


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Africa is well known as the location to catch a glimpse of the Big Five safari land-based animals, but South Africa now has a growing reputation as the place to see the Marine Big Five. Whales, sharks, seals, penguins, and dolphins. Spectacular coastline and a chance to see these amazing ocean creatures in their natural habitat tells you all you need to know about just why it’s so popular.

1. Dyer Island Cruises

One of the optimum locations for sightings can be found just a 2-hour drive from Cape Town. Here, the rustic coastline of Gansbaai and Dyer Island awaits. Gansbaai is a unique, unspoiled natural setting on the Western Cape’s “Whale Coast”, perfect for the marine enthusiast and nature lover. Located off the coast of Gansbaai, Dyer Island is famous for its colony of African penguins; the island is a varied and beautiful wildlife marine biome that has been recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

For fabulous tours in this area, try the international award-winning Dyer Island Cruises. Located near near Hermanus and Cape Town, Dyer Island Cruises, offers amazing whale watching and other eco-tours around Dyer Island and the opportunity to see more marine wildlife in one trip, than anywhere else in the country, including whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, penguins, and marine birds. Dyer Island Cruises proudly offers these tours on their comfortable, custom-built tour vessels, the Dream Catcher, a 14m catamaran, that can accommodate up to 50 passengers and 6 crew members and the Whale Whisperer, a 4m semi-rigid inflatable, that can accommodate 24 passengers and 4 crew members. Both vessels offer ample space, onboard restroom facilities and a PA system.

The team’s mission is to provide excellent trips for the best value for money guaranteed, and they have been recognized globally as a leading provider of marine-based eco-tours. One of the highlights of their tours has to be the fantastic, custom-built, Dream Catcher vessel; comfortable, safe, and with a fantastic observation deck, it’s got to be the best way to view whales. Dream Catcher offers expert crew and guides attend to your every need, incredible wildlife photo opportunities and is perfect for individuals, couples and families of all ages and sizes. A Fair Trade Tourism certified company since 2008 with a Blue Flag boat accreditation, Dyer Island Cruises live by their motto ‘Discover and Protect’. Dyer Island Cruises also offers unparalleled expert knowledge about the entire ecosystem of Dyer Island in South Africa, a varied and beautiful wildlife marine biome recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

One of their best tours is their Marine Big 5 Tour around the World-Famous Dyer Island. The tour introduces guests to the Marine Big 5 or as many of them as possible (whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, and penguins). The onboard marine biologist will also be on hand to teach you more about these amazing animals that visit these breath-taking shores. The duration of the Marine Big 5 Tour lasts between 2 to 2.5 hours, depending upon wildlife sightings and prevailing weather conditions. All tours launch from Kleinbaai Harbour, close to Gansbaai and head to Dyer Island, located 8 km offshore. Situated adjacent to Dyer Island is Geyser Rock, which is home to a robust colony of 60,000 Cape fur seals, present year-round. The journey passes through the world-famous channel known as ‘Shark Alley’, nestled between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. After this, the team will navigate to prime whale viewing areas within the bay, using their two decades worth of experience to increase the chances of sightings. Sightings may include the Southern right whale, Bryde’s whale, Humpback whales and three distinct dolphin species—common, bottlenose, and the endangered humpback variety as well as the possibility to see a bronze whaler shark or the awe-inspiring great white shark!

2. Marine Dynamics Shark Cage Diving

If being off the boat and in the water gets your adrenaline pumping, then the sister company of Dyer Island Cruises, Marine Dynamics, specializes in Great White Shark diving excursions. The fascinating and educational tours show you how to distinguish between a male and female shark as well as how to identify the specific shark using its unique dorsal fin and scars.

Their tours involve a short boat trip onboard their custom-designed boat, Slashfin, the biggest and only luxury cage diving boat in the industry, which will take you to the dive site, then let the excitement commence with the cage diving! The dive master skipper and crew have more than 30 years’ combined experience and Marine Dynamics were winners of the African Responsible Tourism Award 2015 and the Lilizela Award for Best Marine Experience in South Africa, so you’re in very safe hands.

There’s a range of tours that you can take with Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics:

  • The Marine Big 5 trip is a boat-based whale-watching tour giving you the chance to spot as many of the big five as you can. It’s educational, too, an onboard marine biologist will be on hand to teach you all about these fascinating creatures
  • For a much closer encounter, the Shark Cage Diving and Viewing Trip has got to be the one! As well as the chance to view the sharks up close and personally in the cage, you learn a great deal about the legendary great white shark and the conservation work that goes into protecting this spectacular species
  • For a wonderful birding experience and the opportunity to photograph albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters at close range, Dyer Island Cruises run a Pelagic Encounters boat tour
  • How about an entirely different viewpoint? The company also offers a plane-based wildlife viewing tour where you take to the skies and gain a unique view of the breathtaking coastline

However you choose to view these magnificent marine animals, an experience with Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics will be magical, memorable, and humbling and don’t just take our word for it, their thousands of positive customer reviews speak for themselves.

Image courtesy of Dyer Island Cruises.

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