In September of this year I was lucky enough to experience the Great White Shark dive in Guadalupe, Mexico. I went out with Great White Adventures, on board the Solmar V. This scuba diving adventure starts off in San Diego, California, where you can be picked up at one of two hotels. It’s probably best to stay the night at one of the hotels, as transportation to Mexico leaves at 9am. The bus takes about two and a half hours to reach the docks for the Solmar V in Mexico.
The boat ride out to Guadalupe was around 22 hours, and it was a very rocky ride. I usually don’t get sea sick, however this trip out was different! Once on the boat, divers are welcome to fish off the back of the boat, lounge around or watch TV in the dining room. There is a great selection of movies and documentaries to watch during the trip. After a nice dinner and chat with fellow divers, I was off to bed.
I woke up to an anchored boat in Guadalupe, Mexico, excited and nervous to get in the water with the Great Whites. After breakfast and a thorough briefing, the first set of divers geared up for their first hour in the cage. The boat has a maximum limit of 16 divers, the surface cage can hold eight divers and there is another cage that goes deeper to around 40 feet in the water and can hold four divers. For the first half of the day we only used the surface cages so we could get used to being around the sharks. Each lot of eight divers would stay in the cage for about an hour then we would switch out.
It’s best to bring a 7mm or 8mm wetsuit as you are not moving underwater; you are simply sitting in a cage watching these magnificent creatures. Once you are ready to enter the cages you are outfitted with ankle weights to keep you weighed down in the cage, along with a 40 or 50 pound harness. This way you can easily move around in the cages and not have to worry about buoyancy.
As my first time entering the cage I became very nervous. Even though I had watched divers for almost an hour, I was definitely uneasy. I sat down on the end of the boat and slipped into the cage, I was handed my camera and down I went. The boat uses a hookah system so you can stay down for as long as you want. I was able to stay down for almost four hours once, but got very cold from not moving around, so I would not recommend doing this.
After a few days, it was easy to be in the cage alone or with only one other diver. The cages that are lowered to 40 feet provide an entirely different experience from the surface cages. At the surface the sharks are lured in with Tuna that sits very close to the cage, along with a milk crate full of fish that sits between the cages and the boat.
The sharks come in and around the cages and even bump into them. It’s a much more engaging experience on the surface. The lowered cage however, exposes you to an almost sublime experience. You watch the sharks swim above and around you. They don’t come close to the cage, but simply dally with you from a distance. It’s at depth that you get a real sense of their size. Strangely, at no point was I ever worried about a shark attack. Once I shared the same environment with them, I had a really hard time understanding how people all over the world are so afraid of these creatures. Harmless obviously isn’t the term to use, but this word did cross my mind.
The unique opportunity offered by this trip is that you don’t need to be a diver to go into the surface cages, only for the lowered cages. So the experience is open to both divers and non-divers. These dives are available from August through October. Check out the video below to see how up close and personal you can get with the Great White sharks. I hope you’ll consider this adventure as your next dive.
Nadia Aly is the CEO and Founder of ScubaDiverLife.com. You can follow her diving adventures on Twitter @DigiTalkVan.
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