Guadalupe Island Destination Guide
Diving with Great White Sharks
By Todd Winner
Guadalupe Island is famous for the most feared fish in the ocean, the Great White Shark. You are guaranteed close-encounters with this fabled beast. Very close encounters. From behind your cage, you will witness White sharks biting onto the cage only a few inches from your nose.
Guadalupe Island Marine life
In addition to sharks, you will see White sharks, Great white sharks, and Carcharodon carcharias. You may also occasionally see sea lions (prey), and baitfish (prey for the sea lions), but it's all about the White sharks.
What's the diving like at Guadalupe
Usually there is a rotation, with divers taking turns going into the cages. One common scenario is doing 3-4 45-minute dives per day. Even though you only see great white sharks, these trips are never boring. There's an incredible amount of adrenalin pumping every time you are in the cage. Almost all of the time white sharks will be going by. Generally you will see 1-3 sharks at any 1 time, and a total of 4-8 individuals over the course of a 3 or 4 day trip.
Types of Cages
There are surface cages and submersible cages. Some operators only use surface cages. A surface cage is tied off to the boat, and floats on the surface. The cage is entered from the swimstep of the boat. You are on a hookah, with a max depth of 5-10ft.
Submersible cages drop down to about 40ft. You enter on the surface, and the cage submerges with you in the cage. Some divers feel like the sharks are more interested and curious about the submersible cages, when both types of cages are in the water. Make sure you check to see what your operator offers.
Out of the cage experience
Some trips have allowed divers to get out of the submersible cage and stand on top of it. This is basically “cageless” great white shark diving, with the option of jumping back down into the cage if you need to.
After arriving in San Diego, Californa, a bus will bring you to Ensenda. Liveaboards depart out of Ensenda, and it's a day's boat ride (18 hours) to Guadalupe Island. Sea-sickness can be an issue, bring your meds.
Best time to go to Guadalupe to see great white sharks
August to October is the best time to go.
Cold – In the 60's, 7mm suit or drysuit is recommended. Because you are not swimming, but remaining still in a cage, the water will seem colder than normal.
Underwater Photography Tips
Use a Wide-angle lens! Leave your macro lens at home. Fisheye or rectilinear lenses work fine. Use short strobe arms, it's impossible to use large strobe arms because you are in there with other divers. 6 or 8 inch single arms work well. Use you strobes on manul power, low power, with diffusers to help avoid hot spots on their bellies.
Fast shutter speeds help, at least 1/125th of a second. Use high-speed shooting mode on your camera if possible.