Gansbaai – “Great White Shark Capital of the World”

Gansbaai – “Great White Shark Capital of the World”

A visit to Gansbaai is a must if you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. It’s a place for adventure and excitement so let your hair down, kick off your shoes and get back to basics with warm friendly and unpretentious people who are ready to welcome you.

Gansbaai (meaning Bay of Geese) inherited its name from a colony of Egyptian geese that used the fresh water fountain in the main harbour area as their home – sadly they do not frequent the area anymore.

Take a scenic two hour (162km) drive from Cape Town on the N2 turning onto the R43, drive through Hermanus to Stanford and arrive at Gansbaai.

Gansbaai is a year round destination which offers all the activities associated with the sea, such as fishing, swimming, diving and, it’s world famous for whale watching and shark cage diving – hence the name, ‘Big-2 Town’.

A wide variety of accommodation is on offer ranging from hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, guest lodges, back packing and camping facilities to suit everyone’s taste and pocket.

There are plenty of interesting little pubs in the town and if you want to follow true tradition, try the locally brewed beer in one of the harbour pubs at the end of the day, while watching the fishing boats returning home with the sun setting over the bay.

Restaurants, bistro’s and coffee shops are plentiful and one can feast on anything from fresh seafood such as crayfish or abalone to succulent steaks or good old fashioned home cooking known as ‘boerekos’. Abalone, (also known as Perlemoen) is professionally farmed in the area, ensuring the ongoing supply of this delicious delicacy.

The harbour is the central point of the town and every local, whatever their profession, is a fisherman. In spite of the developing tourism industry, the fishing industry is still the economical heartbeat of Gansbaai.


The fleet of fishing boats and the fishmeal factory in the harbour employ a substantial number of people. Locals call the occasional odour wafting from the factory the ‘smell of money’.

Gansbaai offers some of the best boat based and land based whale watching in the world especially between June and November when the Southern Rights come to calve.

White Shark cage diving and shark viewing trips are also very popular attractions – the best time of year to view these majestic creatures is from June to September.

However, these sensational marine attractions should not be the only things to entice you, as some of the Cape’s best conserved fynbos adorns the mountains in the area which are crossed with numerous walks and hiking trails.

There are also plenty of other activities and attractions to ensure that boredom does not set in, such as 4×4 obstacle courses, cave exploring, kayaking and birding for the nature lovers.

The main reason that the peninsula area has become a premier nature destination is the fact that conservation of both marine and land based nature has been embraced by all. The whale boat tour operators work closely with the marine biologists and strictly obey the prescribed 300 meter distance from the whales.

These boat operators and their employees are strongly involved in the protection of the African penguins and other seabirds and immediately kick into action if news comes in of an oil spill on their beloved coastline.

Thousands of Cape fur seals and African penguins live on the two islands in the bay and can be seen from the shore. Boat tours take visitors around the islands, where a cheerful and noisy group of seals await your arrival – no wonder; hundreds of great White Sharks have decided that this is where they belong!!!


The lighthouse built in 1895 as a result of the many shipwrecks along the coast, is open to visitors, who can climb the stairs to the revolving light at the top and gaze out at the stormy seas that cover the remains of the famous ship wreck. A memorial to those who lost their lives during the sinking of the ship can be seen and many of the artefacts are housed in the quaint museum.

Gansbaai is a town of true contrasts offering visitors seeking adventure, a thrilling and unforgettable experience – but at heart, it will always remain just a humble fishing village.

Have a superb stay in Gansbaai and end off your day sipping a sundowner while watching an exquisite sunset over a beautiful bay!!!  

Denny McQueen

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