If you are looking for things to do in Gansbaai, you are in the right place. This small little fishing town sits at the centre of several small bays along the South Atlantic part of the ocean. Situated in the Western Cape province of South Africa, the quaint little town has a lot to offer guests. There are miles upon miles of untamed beaches, nature reserves with diverse fynbos and milkwood forests that have stood the test of time.
Gansbaai is steeped in history with tales of shipwrecks and fishers as well as the preserved cave homes of the original settlers of the land; the Khoisan people. Known as the home of the big marine five, Gansbaai has a dense population of great white sharks, with many of the activities in the town revolving around these magnificent beasts.
Picture trails along white pristine beaches, magnificent ocean views at every corner, and adrenaline-pumping shark and whale watching. These are some of the best things to do in Gansbaai that you will find.
Whether you are a beachcomber who loves scavenging along the beach looking for things, an avid hiker, or just a general ocean lover with a taste for adventure you will not regret diving into the Great White Shark capital of South Africa.
List of Things To Do in Gansbaai
Below is our list of some of the best activities we think you will love to do in Gansbaai.
Shark Cage Diving Tour
Of course, we begin our list with the best heart pumping and adrenaline-inducing activity.
The Great White Sharks are synonymous with Gansbaai. You will not find an area along the South African borders that has as dense a population of these sharks as Gansbaai. The main shark cage diving tours occur near the Dyer Islands, fondly nicknamed Shark Alley.
If you are not already in Gansbaai, the day begins with a shuttle from your location to the Kusweg, Kleinbaai Harbour in Gansbaai. Thereafter, you will be served with breakfast or lunch whilst the tour guides brief you on safety and what to anticipate during and after the tour.
You are then whisked off into the ocean on a boat ride to the dive site. On arrival, you will be provided diving equipment as well as further information for your safety. The real action begins soon after.
When not in the cage, there is a wide variety of onboard refreshments and you can expect to see some Great White Sharks and other amazing species from the viewing deck of the boat. When the activity is over you can enjoy chasing the sunset as you head back to Gansbaai.
- An underwater digital camera rental is available and it includes a memory card, which you take home with you.
- An alternative meal option is available for specific dietary requirements, by prior arrangement only.
- In the event of no shark sightings, no refunds are applicable. However, you will be given a non-transferable voucher valid for two years for another trip free of charge.
- Shuttle service is available from Cape Town or close surrounds in air-conditioned vehicles with free WiFi
- Private vehicles/road transfers or helicopter transfers are also available on request.
- Expect to spend at least two to three hours on this tour
- The package includes a post-tour meal at the company’s crew house while watching the video footage of your trip
- The tour is subject to weather and sea conditions, you will be notified twenty-four hours prior if there are any changes.
Whale Watching Tour
Calling all Thalassophiles! This tour is perfect for the avid ocean lover who perhaps was not in line when the adrenaline gene was being handed out.
If the cage diving is too intimidating for you, you can opt for a whale watching tour, which in essence is really a marine animal watching tour. You can expect to explore the majestic coastline and ocean in the safety and comfort of a tour boat.
So bust out your binoculars and enjoy sightings of whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, penguins and seabirds. Before each trip, you will be briefed on safety and which animals you can expect to see along the route. The tour begins at the Gansbaai harbour and you will travel along the Cliffs of De Kelders en route towards the Plaat beach.
It is a beautiful relaxing experience and depending on the time you pick, you will experience a different atmosphere altogether. So prepare to sit back and enjoy the early morning crisp ocean air breezing past you if you pick the 7.00 am to 9.00 am time. Alternatively, you can take in the dazzling mid-morning sun across the ocean landscape during the 10.00 am to 12.00 pm slot.
If you are not a morning person the 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm tour offers you a chance to clearly appreciate the marine life under the glare of the afternoon sun. Lastly, if dusk is your favourite time of day, expect to indulge in the sunset drawing animal shadows across the sea during the 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm time slot.
- The Whale Season is only from June to December and the peak seasons are from August to October.
- All trips have marine guides on board to answer your questions and share their vast knowledge with you.
Visit the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary
Who doesn’t love Penguins? Their cute waddle and quirky personalities are fun to watch. This is why you should visit the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.
Located on Dyer Island, this conservatory is a perfect place for you and your family to learn more about the species and enjoy some quality time with the Penguins. Founded in 2015, it is a custom-designed marine bird rehabilitation centre that provides temporary care to diseased, displaced, injured, oiled and abandoned marine birds with special focus on the endangered African penguin.
The Sanctuary is open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm daily, with feeding time at 3.00 pm. You can take a stroll around the Sanctuary and gain some insightful information on the history, conservation efforts and other interesting tidbits about the animals there.
There is some lovely coffee and cake for purchase and a quaint little Penguin Gift shop where you can buy souvenirs. You can also watch some of the African Penguins that are under rehabilitation. We highly recommend visiting this Sanctuary for an educational and wonderful excursion.
Take a Marine Big Five Sea Safari
Just like its land counterpart, the sea safari is an exciting chance for you to get up close and personal with the marine animals that dominate the ocean.
The tour is a two-hour trip, where you can anticipate sighting Whales, Dolphin, Seals, Penguin and Marine Birds. It departs from the harbour of Gansbaai and cruises along a very scenic route that passes the cliffs of De Kelders and De Platt Beach on course to the middle of the bay in search of the Marine Big 5.
Along the way, some Bottlenose Dolphins are often spotted and this gives you a chance to whip out your camera and snap away. They seem to enjoy the attention and often hang around for a bit. The tour also passes by Danger Point where the Bryde’s whales can be seen.
Onboard the boat has two guides, a Marine Biologist and a Skipper with over 15yrs experience. You can ask all your questions and get a wealth of knowledge from them. It is truly an experience not to be missed.
“Sea” the Point at Danger Point
We have at some time been enthralled with tales of shipwrecks and lonely lighthouse keepers. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good sea tale? The Danger Point Lighthouse is perhaps the closest thing to these tales.
Initially erected in 1895 after the tragic sinking of the HMS Birkenhead Troopship, on the night of 26 February 1852, the lighthouse has served as a beacon to lost ships since then.
This amazing building has three light flashes every forty seconds to guide ships on the open sea. It is open to the public on weekdays from 10.00 am till 3.00 pm. The tour offers you a chance to view and climb up into the tower, reaching a height of about 18,3 meters from the ground.
You will be able to view the source of the light beam that is 4750 000 times brighter than candlelight. At the top of the tower, you can enjoy the magnificent panoramic scenery of the mountains, sky, fynbos, and ocean.
There is a memorial erected on the ground, that gives homage to the soldiers who perished when the Birkenhead struck an unmapped submerged rock only 1.5 meters off the shore. Over 450 soldiers are said to have stood fast whilst the more vulnerable women and children where disembarked first. A memorial service is held at the lighthouse on 26 February in commemoration of the people that died.
The lighthouse is still functional so visitation depends on whether or not it is open for visitors. If you are looking to tap into the past for a little while, this is a trip you should not miss.
Gansbaai & Kleinbaai Harbours
Imagine taking a stroll down a quiet beach with waves coming back and forth and miles of the ocean right in front of you. This is one of the reasons why we love the Gansbaai and Kleinbaai harbours.
The Gansbaai harbour wall is a popular spot for visitors and locals. If you love a bit of recreational fishing, it is the perfect place for you to relax as you line fish. You can even indulge in s romantic stroll or two whilst taking in the magnificent sunsets or sunrises and amazing views of the area. The atmosphere can be calm or busy depending on the time of day. Watch fishing vessels and recreational boats come in and out at this historical harbour where it all started in 1881.
The Kleinbaai harbour is the smaller of the two and it is located nearer to the commercial hub of the town. Here you can expect to find some of the locals wetting their fishing lines off the pier and fisherman launching to catch their daily prey.
These two harbours are without a doubt the best places to experience the essence of Gansbaai. The perfect amalgamation of history and modernity.
Gansbaai Quad Biking Trails
If you are a little seasick by now, there are land activities that you can enjoy. Although we have to warn you, the ocean is not very far away even when you take a quad bike through the inland trails.
The Gansbaai quad biking tours offers a two hour guided tour that takes you on a nature trail through the indigenous Milkwood forest and up to a magnificent looking point atop Mount Dyer.
Riders here, have the opportunity to refresh, take photos and take in the beautiful landscape before them. No experience is needed to drive the quad bikes and it is an adventure that is perfect if you have children. The tour departs daily at noon and you are given a tour guide that will guide you through the inland terrain.
Now here is a history lesson that you will not find boring or sleep-inducing. Bathed in a foamy fog courtesy of the waves splashing against the rocks, the Klipgat Caves are some of the few remaining intact early human habitats.
These caves came about as an erosive result of underwater aquifers that, coupled with pounding waves, opened up the coastal cliffs. This formed gigantic caves that were used as dwellings by the middle and late Stone Age people. Of these caves, the Klipgat is the most popular due to its wide mouth that offers remarkable views of the bay.
A guided tour through this cave is a chance not to be missed. You will discover a world of ancient wonder and mystery with beautiful views of the coast. The tour guides are eager to divulge tales and stories about the people who once called these caves home and about the colonial settlers who stumbled upon it. Numerous excavations of these caves have yielded some wonderful artefacts that will give you a better insight into the people that walked the earth before we did.
Stroll along the Fynbos Trail
Whether you are a nature lover or not, the Fynbos trail is a unique experience that you can take as a fully guided and catered slackpacking trail or as a self-guided and catered trail.
So pack your camping gear and prepare to hike along the coast and mountains. You can choose either the two or the three-night option at the fully equipped farm cottages. Anticipate some wonderful sights through the coastal route and uncover wonderful archaeological cave sites and through the mountain fynbos fauna and flora where a guide will impart some knowledge about the animal and plant life in the region.
Walk through spectacular and remote milkwood forests and spend some time visiting the eco-friendly and social projects such as organic beekeeping along the way. If the idea of a walking holiday makes you jump up and down with glee, this trail will not disappoint you.
Eating in Gansbaai
We saved the best thing to do in Gansbaai for last; eating in Gansbaai. With so many fresh seafoods at your door, it can be quite difficult for you to choose. And we know that it’s important to keep your energy levels up when you have all these activities to get through.
Below we have listed just three top restaurants in Gansbaai that have raving reviews.
Thyme at Rosemary
By far the most popular place to eat in Gansbaai the Thyme at Rosemary offers exquisite casual dining to fit your needs. The restaurant has an elegant Victorian charm that echoes the history of the town. It offers a variety of cuisines that include; African, Seafood, European, Grill, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options and Gluten-Free options.
Tuscany Coffee Shop and Bistro
A local favourite, the coffee shop has on offer twenty-five coffee varieties to choose from. The coffee is complemented with decadent baked goods, making it a perfect breakfast stop before you head out. If you are in the mood for something savoury they have cheese spreads, antipasti and warm pasta to fill you up.
The Great White House
If you are in the mood for a busy and bustling atmosphere with good food, then the Great White House is a great option. The location is equipped with a fantastic restaurant, bar, coffee shop, gift shop and adjacent chalets for accommodation.
The menu is very broad ranging from a full English style or health breakfasts to light lunches; divine seafood platters and traditional dishes. You will not regret spending your money here.
Gansbaai is a great place to visit and we hope that our list has convinced you to give it a try. Quiet, Quaint and Quintessential, we love everything about Gansbaai!