How to Witness the Big Marine 5 in South Africa in Just One Day!

by Sandy Salle on December 31, 2013

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Did you know that just by spending one day in South Africa you have the opportunity to witness the Big Marine Five? It’s true!

But why would you just want to spend one day in beautiful South Africa when there is so much to see and do?

If you want to see the Big Marine Five, which includes the great white shark, Southern right whale, dolphin, South African penguin, and the Cape fur seal, here is what you need to include on your itinerary for the day:

Awake to the sounds of the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront from your plush bed in the luxurious Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town. As you get ready for the day, enjoy a refreshing cup of tea before heading downstairs for breakfast at the hotel’s award-winning Signal Restaurant.

After a delectable breakfast of a vegetable omelet, fresh fruit, and coffee, explore the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront–all you have to do is look over the side of the harbor to see adorable Cape fur seals playing in the water!

Cape fur seal

After you’ve observed the first of the Big Marine Five for some time and exhausted your photography skills on the harbor, it’s time to depart for your next adventure, a visit to the Stony Point Penguin Colony.

As your private car takes you along the coast of South Africa, you’ll witness absolutely stunning vistas and along the way you might also see some baboons! During this hour drive your guide will also point out some of the history of the area, as well as discuss the various points of interest you come across.

South Africa safari vacation

During the drive your second Big Marine Five can also be witnessed: the dolphin. So keep your eyes peeled for pods of dolphin breaking the surface of the water as you drive along the coast.

As you arrive at Stony Point you will be awe-struck by the sheer beauty of the landscape and vast ocean, and the hundreds upon hundreds of penguins that inhabit the area (there’s your third Big Marine Five!). This is a fantastic place to view penguins because it’s not very crowded, which means you will have the unobstructed views of the penguins for as long as you wish! This is the perfect spot for taking some amazing photographs, so make sure you’re camera ready!


trip to South Africa

After spending some time with the penguins, it’s off to one of the most exhilarating experiences you will ever have in your life: great white shark cage diving . . .

Upon arrival to Gansbaai, South Africa, you will be dropped off at the Marine Dynamics Center where you will check in for your shark cage diving excursion. You’ll mingle with some of the boat crew and other passengers before heading out into the ocean.

The ride from the port to the dive site is approximately 10 minutes and during the trip you might witness seals and Southern right whales!

As you anchor at the dive site the marine biologist on board will take readings of the water temperature and oxygen levels while the crew chums the water. You’ll also be getting into your wetsuit at this time.

Once the first great white is spotted near the boat the first group of people will hop into the cage to come face to face with this largely misunderstood predator! Whether you’re on the boat or in the cage, you are practically guaranteed some great action. Now that’s your fourth Big Marine Five animal of the day–woo hoo!

shark cage diving

Once you return to the dock and freshen up at the Marine Dynamics Center your driver will take you to your next accommodation, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Upon arrival to this gorgeous property you will be taken to the Grootbos airstrip. Your pilot will meet you and you’ll hop into his or her 4-seater aircraft for a 30-minute flight along the coast! This is truly a phenomenal experience not to be missed. As you soar above the ocean your pilot will point out all the whales in the water beneath you!

Side note: I experienced this tour in October and we saw five adult whales, each with a baby by her side. We even spotted a rare white baby whale (only 2% of the Southern right whale population is white!). After an exciting flight it’s time to land and unwind at the Grootbos spa with a massage . . .


whale watching south africa

So there you have it. The Big Marine Five in one day!

And, if you would rather experience these tours over the course of two or three days, that is a fantastic option as well!

trip to Africa

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