Scuba Diver's Bucket List Number One Thing to Do: Diving with a Great White Shark

great white shark diving

I have travelled the world over just to get wet and thought I had gotten fairly blasé about dive destinations but I have just returned from the most incredible of trips.   The owner of the dive shop I frequent was going to Guadalupe Island to dive with the great white sharks and invited me to come along.   Getting there was an adventure in itself.  We met at the dive shop ad 3 AM, drove to San Diego, took a bus to the border, walked across the border, picked up the bus again to Ensenada and then boarded the boat for a 20 hour boat ride.   By the time we arrived at the island the next morning we were more than ready to get wet.


As they were lowering the cages into the water one of the crew members called out that he had seen the first shark.  We were briefed on the shark cages (two at the surface and one that got lowered to 30-40 feet) as well as the weighting and hookah apparatus.  We then changed into our wetsuits, donned weight harnesses and had the divemaster hook us up to the hookah and hand us our regulator.  


A buttslide later I was in the cage with three other people (one of whom was not a certified diver and had never been underwater before).  We waited and waited and were a little disappointed that there were no sharks.   We finally started seeing a few sharks deep in the water.   But, by the afternoon, the sharks came and they were everywhere.   We saw them from our surface cages and we saw them below. 


I was then given my turn in the submersible cage.  It was like an elevator ride down to the deep.  The sharks came and then the divemaster opened the door to our cage and motioned for us to exit and step on top of the cage.  I was a little leery but had seen others do it earlier and they all seemed to re-emerge at the surface with limbs and fingers intact.   So I also climbed up on top of the cage.   The next thing I knew there were sharks coming from everywhere and circling around and around.  It was the most incredible experience and the biggest high of my life.   And, no, I never felt the least bit nervous or threatened because it was apparent that they didn’t have the slightest interest in eating us! 

We got to shark dive the next day too although I chose to spend the morning watching the surface action from the boat and watch my friend (who’s a professional underwater videographer) try out various cameras and rigs.  I saw one large shark do a breech – he jumped all the way out of the water, twisted and splashed down.  Unfortunately I started the camera too late and didn’t catch it.  The afternoon was a repeat of the submersible dive and, again, it was the most incredible high I’ve ever experienced.  Absolutely exhilarating!
We got weathered out the third day but were treated to a cruise around the island where we saw sea lion rookeries and nurseries,  sea birds and elephant seals (many with babies).  The trip back to Ensenada was a time for relaxing and socializing.  Although I was prepared for a rough passage both ways, this trip was pretty smooth making the time spent on the boat pleasant and fun.   My only complaint about the trip (and the boat):  the food was so good that I gained 5 pounds!


Written by Susy Horowitz, California. Photo Credit: Szilvia Gogh