About 5 miles (8 kilometers) off the coast of Gansbaai, a town in South Africa's Western Cape, Dyer Island is a bird sanctuary closed to the public. It was originally called Ilha de Fera, Portuguese for “Island of Wild Creatures,” which makes sense given that the island is home to hundreds of African penguins.
The only way to get close to Dyer Island is as part of a guided tour, and there are plenty to choose from. Tours focus on whale watching, shark-cage diving, and spotting the Marine Big 5 (Cape fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, African penguins, southern right whales, and great white sharks). These tours are typically led by marine biologist guides.
Another nearby island, Geyser Island, has thousands of resident Cape fur seals, and the channel between the two islands is known as “Shark Alley” for the high numbers of great white sharks attracted there by the seals. Many visitors come to this area in hopes of seeing the awe-inspiring fish.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Dyer Island is a must-see for nature and wildlife lovers.
- Some combination tours that sail near the island package activities such as shark-cage diving and wine tasting.
- Tours from Cape Town typically include hotel pickup and drop-off.
- The sea can be choppy. If you suffer from seasickness, it is advisable to take something before heading out.
How to Get There
Dyer Island is around 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Cape Town, and the only way to sail near the island is with a tour. If you want to make your own way to Gansbaai, the drive will take you just over two hours.
When to Get There
Tours typically leave Cape Town early in the morning in order to make the most of the day. How long you spend around Dyer Island depends on which tour you take, but most tours take up most of the day.
The Great White House
Located just outside Gansbaai, the Great White House is a restaurant, bar, and hotel popular among those visiting the area for a wildlife tour. You can have a bite to eat at the restaurant or bar (refreshments are sometimes included on tours) and, if you want to stay the night, book accommodations in the hotel.