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Sea(e) the Big 5 During Your Cape Town Trip

Gansbaai is a fishing town located just two hours’ drive from the heart of the Mother City. It may be a small place, but its big on thrilling ocean activities.

So, if you’re looking for unique and exciting activities, head to Gansbaai, where you can discover the Marine Big 5 in all their glory.

Great white sharks

One of the ocean’s most feared predators, the Great White is a super predator of the highest order and easily the top of the food chain in the ocean. It’s also a beautiful, graceful, and misunderstood creature.

Now, thanks to shark cage diving tours in Gansbaai, you can admire these amazing creatures from up close in total safety and in the company of an experienced and knowledgeable guide.

Dare you venture into the depths of the Great White’s domain? You’re bound to change your perception of them in the process.

The Cape Fur Seal

Once the doyen of the fashion industry, the Cape Fur Seal lives in comparative harmony from Namibia all the way along the west coast to Port Elizabeth.

In Cape Town, you can catch up with these cute creatures at the Hout Bay or Kalk Bay Harbours where they spend the warm hours sunning themselves on the rocks. Don’t let their clumsy clambering on land fool you though, the seals take on a whole new demeanour in the water where they’ll thrill you with their acrobatics, agility, and speed.

At Duiker Island, you can join them in the water, where they can’t resist swimming up for a closer look at their two-legged visitors.

Southern Right Whales

The South African coastline is one of the best places to see southern right whales during the spring. At this time of year, these huge marine mammals head to the southern African coast to give birth to their young in sheltered spots like Hermanus and False Bay.

These gigantic creatures are around 16 metres long, yet they’re capable of incredibly playful acrobatic flips and jumps among the waves.

You can view the whales on oceangoing cruises, where they often come closer to see what you’re up to, or watch them from many land-based spots in Cape Town and along the Garden Route.


Dolphins are common along the African coast, but that doesn’t make the many less appealing. You’re bound to see them when you head out on whale watching trips, and they’ll delight you with their speedy swimming, wave surfing, and graceful leaps out of the water.

You can also take a guided dolphin tour where you’ll find out more about the local Bottlenose, Indo-Pacific Humpback, and Long-Beaked Common Dolphins

At Plettenberg Bay, the truly adventurous can head out on a kayak to play in the water alongside these elegant sea mammals.

The African Penguin

What the African penguin lacks in size, ferocity, acrobatics, and fierce demeanour, it makes up for with its rarity and amusing antics. One can’t help but feel a smile coming on at the sight of these dapper birds waddling across the sands.

You can enjoy the show at several established colonies dedicated to preserving these birds, namely Robben Island, St Croix Island, Dassen Island, Dyer Island, and Brid Island.

Alternatively, you can visit the world’s only urban penguins just 46 km from Cape Town at Boulders Beach.

Here you can visit the information centre to find out more about the species or walk among them on the beach or purpose-designed boardwalks. You could even join them for a swim.

More Big 5 Experiences

You can also catch a glimpse of the original Big 5 near Cape Town on safaris to the outer lying areas or visit one of the nearby sanctuaries to see some other savannah species up close.

So, if you want to claim bragging rights for seeing a Big 10 during your South African trip, book your Cape Town self-catering accommodation right now.

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