Dun dun, dun dun, dun dun dun dun… and so on. Cage diving with sharks is the Marmite of all adventure holidays: a beach break with bite for some, a bait worse than death for others. As a lifelong shark enthusiast, it’s my dream trip, so here’s the de-fin-itive Smith guide to shark-spotting – just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
Destination Neptune Islands in South Australia
Best for Great whites, copper sharks and mako sharks – start in this Jaws-dropping spot, where the gnashing-great film was shot. Out-of-this-world shark cage-diving starts here; dip your toes carefully in the waters around Dangerous Reef (yes, really).
When July to October
Stay Head to eco-haven Southern Ocean Lodge for luxurious lodging, and kangaroos, wallabies and fur seals (a great white’s favourite snack) on your doorstep.
Best for Whale sharks – these gentle giants appear around the Gladden Split reef two days before the full moon to feed on the eggs of black snappers that congregate to spawn. Fang factor is low – just dodge the giant tails.
When Springtime (March, April, May and June)
Stay Shoreside at Turtle Inn. Ready, set, hammock.
Destination Gansbaai, South Africa
Best for Great whites – head eight kilometres off the shore of Cape Town to aptly-named Shark Alley, a teeth-filled waterway packed with blockbuster-worthy dorsal fins. Cue Jaws music…
When All-year round, but waters are clearest from March to September
Stay Bunk close to the action at Birkenhead House in Hermanus – the cliff-edge setting is perfect for whale watching (bonus).
Destination Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Best for Tiger sharks, bull sharks, black-tip reef sharks and white-tip reef sharks: the whole gang. Cut your diving teeth here: superlative shark dives let you hang back and watch the feeding frenzy while wranglers lay the bait. If that’s not thrilling enough, night dives are dark, deep and dangerous (sort of) for hardcore shark fans.
When These sharkies like to party all year long.
Stay Snap up a room at tropical scuba site Royal Davui Island Resort for killer cocktails that will knock your dive-socks off.
Destination Guadalupe Island, Mexico
Best for Great whites – carcharodon carcharias if you’re being fancy. These toothy beasts roam the crystal-clear waters around Guadalupe Island, waiting to scoff unsuspecting resident seals. Get up close and personal (but not too close) with these fishy carnivores by being lowered in a cage, or watch from a boat a respectful distance away.
When August to mid-November
Stay Book a room further down the coast at The Resort at Pedregal on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, where the predator-packed Pacific waters meet the Sea of Cortez.