Guadalupe Cage Diving Trip Report
Great crew and great experience! Definitely recommend Horizon Charters for great white shark diving. Detailed review follows below…
My wife and I went to Guadalupe Island with Horizon Charters to dive with great white sharks at the beginning of August 2018. We had a great time. I would definitely recommend this operator to other people who want to dive with great whites. The captain and crew took great care of all the divers, and they delivered an unforgettable experience with plenty of shark action, at a reasonable price.
We were on Horizon’s first trip of the 2018 season to Guadalupe Island. Finding the landing and the boat in San Diego was easy, and it was nice to be able to embark from a port in the U.S. The boat was comfortable and had everything we needed for a short (< 1 week) live-aboard dive trip. It was comparable to other boats I’ve been on for trips of similar duration. We were fortunate in that the ride to Guadalupe Island was fairly smooth. After we anchored on the lee side of the island, it was very calm for our three days of diving. The trip back to San Diego was a bit rockier, but not bad.
Cage Diving and Sharks
We spent three days diving and were in the cages for 4 to 6 hours each day (usually 1 hour at a time, but sometimes 2). We saw great white sharks on every dive. We could also see the sharks when we were standing on the deck of the boat. This time of year there were sub-adult sharks present. They were fairly curious and active, and we were able to take many great pictures and videos from inside the cages. We saw sharks circling the bait and the cages, sizing each other up, attacking the bait from the side near the surface, and shooting up from the blue depths below to attack the bait and breach the surface of the water. We brought our own GoPro, but the boat also had them for rent. The water was clear, and we were able to take some amazing pictures and videos of the sharks.
The captain and crew complied with regulations (pulling the cages out of the water at night) and were focused on conservation and education. They repeatedly emphasized that great whites are not the mindless killing machines depicted in movies and on TV. The bait they used was very effective at attracting sharks, and was safer for the sharks than chum (since chum could potentially trigger a frenzy in which sharks might injure each other). The crew was knowledgeable and included a guide who has worked with sharks for 14 years.
America’s Shark Boat
Horizon had a good setup for shark diving, with the cages attached to the back end of the boat, with the top of the cage at the surface of the water. This meant that we didn’t need to breathe from tanks. We used regulators on hoses hooked up to an air supply from the boat. We were just below the surface during the dives, which eliminated many of the risks associated with scuba diving (e.g., decompression illness, out of air, squeeze / reverse squeeze). Anyone who wanted to end a dive early could simply climb up the ladder out of the cage and get back on the boat. This setup makes it easy for people who aren’t scuba certified to dive with sharks. At the start of the trip, the dive guide went over basic skills (such as mask clearing) with the divers who weren’t scuba certified.
Horizon provided all the gear for the dive. My wife and I brought our own masks, but the boat had some, too. Horizon provided wetsuits, booties, hoods, gloves – these all happened to be brand new at the start of this season, so our group was the first to wear them. They also provided weights for each diver (to enable us to stand on the floor of the cage instead of floating up).
The Shark Crew
The captain and crew were a great group of people who made sure we stayed safe and comfortable. The food on the boat was excellent, too. The fact that we were away from land didn’t seem to limit the chef at all. Horizon has been going to Guadalupe Island for a long time, and it was neat to hear from the more seasoned crew members how the shark diving scene has developed.
As a bonus, we got to see some fur seals and elephant seals from afar when we were leaving the island, as well as a pod of bottlenose dolphins who swam along with the boat, and later a whale on the trip back to San Diego.
If we ever go diving with great whites again, we would definitely choose Horizon Charters.
– Charlie A Shark Diver