FAQ

No, we tailor our tours to the season to give the absolute best chance of great white success.

With our 50 years + experience, we have found the greatest success by running a variety of itineraries that take daylight hours, typical weather and likely shark activity into consideration. With daylight saving (October to March) in Spring and Summer, we offer tours as short as 2-3 nights long. Typically the weather is more favourable at this time of year and the beautiful long summer nights are just a joy!

The BIGGEST sharks of the year are often seen in Autumn and Winter. April into June is usually the best time to witness giant mature female great whites. As we head deeper into this season the tours have a longer itinerary. This takes the shorter days and typical weather in to account, so to give best chance of success we run our various 4 to 10 day expeditions. This additional time onboard gives us flexibility as to when we get down to and get back between the shelter of the mainland and the sheltered anchorage of the Neptune Islands. Such tours are relatively less expensive to reflect the relative time spent with great white sharks. We only choose the most productive days to spend with the sharks, and look for alternative diving or shore based activities on other days.

Depending on the season, some longer itineraries also target inshore coastal species including the world largest giant cuttlefish aggregation, Australian sea lions, and leafy sea dragons. Please see individual product itineraries for inclusion details.

When is the best time of year to see sharks? 

This often-asked question doesn’t have the same answer for everyone! Please consider all the information put together here by Andrew Fox after an unparalleled 42 years of diving experience with great white sharks. 

With a history spanning over 50 years of cage-diving, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions has experienced ever-changing seasonal shark activity patterns at every geographical location that we have operated. Presently we work exclusively in the Neptune Islands Marine Park including both the North and South Island groups and we will no doubt also see ongoing and unpredictable changes in shark activity patterns here too.  

The Neptune Islands are a unique location in the world in producing reliable great white shark diving throughout any month of the year. With the advantages of our multi-day itineraries and ocean floor cage facilities, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions enjoys the industry’s highest success rates in year-round productivity. 

There are good aspects to be said about every time of the year and experiencing all the various seasonal moods at the Neptune islands can be a very rewarding pursuit. The so-called “best times” should be considered from a combination of factors including short and long-term trends concerning shark reliability, shark numbers, shark size, potential productive weather, water temperature and water visibility. However, it’s important to know that we experience unpredictable variations and complete exceptions to the rule with most of these factors and no two years are ever the same.  

Best Time for Shark Reliability
Over our entire history at the Neptune Islands, our early summer period and our late autumn/early winter has probably delivered the highest reliability of shark sightings which approaches 100% in most years. The highest recorded numbers of sharks/day in recent years have often peaked during our spring months of September to November. 

Best time for Largest Sharks
The very largest sharks seen are usually mature female sharks which can measure over 5m long. These super-giants are more likely to be experienced in late autumn and winter with maximum-sized super giants peaking in the winter months June to August. Large adult male sharks measuring over 4m long arrive somewhat randomly throughout the year at the Neptune’s, but perhaps peak more in our early spring. These old boys are consistently more “photogenic” than the typically more cautious giant females. 

Best time for Sunshine
The brightest sunniest weather at the Neptune Islands is usually experienced between the months of October and April.  

Best Water Temperature
The warmest water temperatures for the Neptune Islands are found between December and May when water temperatures rise to 18-19 C. Offshore currents flowing past the Neptune islands maintain water temperatures above 15C throughout most of the year with the lowest temperatures in early Spring. 

Best Water Visibility
Although striking clear water visibility of up to 30m or more can be found throughout much of the year at the offshore Neptune Islands, the most crystal-clear waters are often found during early Spring albeit when the water is the coolest. 

Best time for Swimming with Sea Lions
Most tour itineraries taken between September and May, and then most of the typically longer itineraries even through the middle months of the year should at some stage experience favourable conditions for swimming/diving with Australian sea lions at special locations away from the Neptune Islands. This activity is typically planned on the first morning or last afternoon of each tour Itinerary. 

Best time for Swimming with Sea Lions
Apart from our priority to dive with great white sharks, nearly all itineraries taken between September and May and longer itineraries throughout the winter usually at some stage have favourable conditions for swimming/diving with Australian sea lions. This happens at locations away from the Neptune Islands and is typically planned on either the first morning or last afternoon of each tour. 

Best time for Island cruises and Shore Party Tours
The October to April time frame, with the typically lower swell, is also conducive to landing more shore excursions either on remote mainland beaches or on islands including the Neptune’s during the tour.  In more challenging weather conditions, we explore the seal colonies and coastlines by tender boat. 

Best time for seeing other shark species
In addition to experiencing great white sharks, The September to May timeframe has higher chances of seeing mako sharks and bronze whaler sharks. Several other bottom shark sand ray species are typically seen on our Ocean Floor Cage dives throughout the year.  

Best Time for Giant Australian Cuttlefish spawning phenomenon.              Late May through to August is a time that coincides with the world’s largest cuttlefish spawning phenomenon near Whyalla on the Eyre peninsula. This incredible location is a few hours’ drive by road from Port Lincoln and on some special extended itineraries, we specifically target this event with a group road trip to our Liveaboard.  Check out our extended Lions, Dragons, Giants and Sharks tour itinerary. 

Length of Tours
Most tour dates have a duration of 3-5 nights to tick off all the desired species and activities in each tour itinerary and allow for any unpredictable dips in either shark activity or poor weather. The longer tours give us wonderful flexibility in avoiding the need for frustrating cancellations that might compromise shorter itineraries. The extra time also allows us to partake in Island exploration or to target other marine species like Australian sea lions. 

The generally fairer weather and longer daylight hours over the summer months allow us to confidently run some shorter itineraries and still achieve the high level of satisfaction we are world-renowned for.  Various 2-night itineraries are possible options from December to March.  

Seasickness
Our expedition vessel the 32m MV. Rodney Fox is a very large and stable, and comfortable sea boat built to handle the open ocean and travel safely between the sheltered anchorages of the Neptune Islands and the mainland. It is these 2-hour crossings on open seas that can be most challenging to people particularly sensitive to seasickness. 

Although most sensitive people recover quickly once we get to our sheltered anchorages, we suggest that particularly sensitive people look to choose a date between the generally fairer seas of October to April, which generally have the most favourable travelling weather of the year. 

Another option (if you have the liberty and flexibility) is to look at long-range weather forecasts up to a week or more ahead of any tour date availability and book any positions available at short notice. A problem with this option is that many dates do tend to book out months in advance. 

Half Price Return 

Regardless of the time of the year, in the unfortunate event of no (or next to no) actual underwater shark sightings on any tour date, we will offer that people who missed out can return to us with 50% of the value of that tour* credited toward their next return adventure.  

*exclusive of Marine Park fees and any SCUBA Hire  

 

Port Lincoln is situated on the beautiful Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

It is very easily accessed from Adelaide by QANTAS Link and Regional Express with a short 40 minute flight.

Adelaide International Airport is Australia’s fastest growing airport. It is serviced directly from many international destinations and all major Australian cities.

For those with a little more time, Premier Stateliner offer a return bus service from Adelaide to Port Lincoln.

For those driving, it is an approx. 7 hour drive from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. Between the months of May to August, those driving can stop off at Whyalla to dive and witness the worlds largest spawning of mating cuttlefish. Snorkelling and diving gear is available to hire from Whyalla Dive Services.

To attract sharks we use a natural tuna fish mix. Although the Neptune Islands are a natural feeding ground for great white sharks, we have found that a form of shark attractant is still required. Over our 50 year history, we have tried many things and the natural tuna scent is what gives us the best results. All interaction with the sharks is carried out by our trained crew and a strict code of conduct is adhered to.

The Neptune Islands Marine Reserve houses Australia’s largest fur seal colony. Several thousand New Zealand fur seals along with a small number of Australian sea lions and many other bird and reptile species call the islands home. And it is the seals that brings the great white sharks to the islands. The sharks do not live at the islands, their presence can be for a few hours to a few weeks at a time. Their appearance is also seasonal and with our research and shark identification we know that the same sharks return to the islands at the same time of year from their vast migrations around Australia. In summer, the seal pups are born and the bull seals arrive to breed. This is the only time of year we see the bull seals, as after breeding they leave the islands for their solo lives. Left behind are the pregnant mums with their newly born seal pups. It is throughout the winter months the seal pups learn to swim in the sheltered shallows around the islands. We often only see specific sharks in summer or winter, very seldom both.

The Neptune Islands are home to thousands of long nose fur seals which provide a significant natural feeding source for great white sharks making this location a reliable year round destination to view great white sharks. We understand it’s unreasonable to expect great white sharks to always appear as

soon as we drop anchor (though this does sometimes happen) and we also understand there is different weather and shark seasons throughout the year. To better ensure reliable viewing we offer different itineraries for different seasons of the year. Our famous multi-day overnight tours utilise both ocean floor

and surface cage dives, giving our expedition members superior diving advantages including the highest success in seeing great white sharks and in achieving quality images and video. We get to enjoy the entire expedition with sunrises and sunsets, as time is spent actually out on location with no wearying daily transfers. In addition to this, while onboard the industry’s largest vessel, we carry a maximum of just 12 guests, allowing plenty of un-rushed and un-crowded cage time for everyone. In many months we do enjoy a success rate approaching 100% most years, however some months tend to have more reliable long-term success than others. Please see the Best Time of Year section here for more details.

Absolutely! There is no diving experience required for surface cage diving or of course, viewing the sharks topside from the boat. We have qualified dive professionals onboard who look after all our new surface cage diving guests. Our dive crew will ensure you are briefed and comfortable before getting in the cage. Plus, with our small guest numbers, there is no pre-determined time that you must get in the cage. Guests can relax, watch the sharks from the surface and then when YOU are ready, we’ll get you in the water. Surface cage time is unlimited and we look for all guests on-board to get fair and equal shark time. Our pricing also reflects your activities on-board, so you can join us as at a cheaper rate than the ‘ocean floor diver’ price.

Have a chat with the Rodney Fox office team if you have anymore questions.

You are very welcome to bring your own diving equipment but all diving needs for diving with the great whites can be hired onboard. This can be ordered at the time of booking.

For a Great White Night Expedition, this is your what to bring checklist:
□ Warm clothing – Fox Expedition clothing available for purchase on board
□ Comfortable flat shoes
□ Dive certification card (divers must show qualification to participate in the ocean floor cage dive)
□ Dive gear – can be hired onboard, see website for more info
□ BCD if wanting to dive/not snorkel with Australian Sea lions
□ Camera
□ Sunglasses – polarized recommended
□ Batteries – for cameras
□ Sunscreen and hats
□ Personal medical and toiletries
□ Seasickness tablets

What you do not need to bring:
□ Towels for personal use and diving
□ Please do not bring any alcoholic beverages onboard as we have a ‘Ship’s Bar Only’ policy.
□ Food/snacks – Snacks are provided complimentary
□ SCUBA tanks, fins or weight belts

Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions is required by the South Australian Government to hold a licence to operate at the Neptune Islands and to pay licence fees. These licence fees go towards research and ongoing management of white shark cage diving, including the monitoring of interactions of white sharks and tourism at the Neptune Islands. You can read more about the management of our industry on the Department of Environment’s website here.