The Darwin Crocosaurus Cove Review You Need To Read!
Can you really dive with a saltwater crocodile with Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin in the Northern Territory? Yeah, I’m not kidding! When I heard about Crocosaurus Cove doing a safe but exciting swim with crocodiles experience, I knew this was an opportunity to tick off a completely unique bucket list item as well learning more about them.
There’s a reason why it is one of Darwin’s premier attractions – the “cage of death” experience is Australia’s only crocodile dive and it has the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles!
Even if you don’t have the bravery to dive, there’s so much to do at Crocosaurus Cove which is located in the heart of Darwin City.
From holding a baby croc, feeding them, a big croc feed show, a reptile house, turtle billabong and a fresh water aquarium, you can spend a few hours here.
Not only that, the cage of death pool is completely open for all visitors to watch so you can experience the iconic salt water crocodiles, fear and jumps from a safe distance with the general admission ticket. All tickets are a full day entry so anyone can come in an enjoy the fun at one of the best things to do in Darwin.
I’m going to go into details of the full cage of death experience and everything Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin has to offer and hopefully you will find the bravery to dive with a crocodile too!
Honestly, there is not a lot you need to prepare or bring for your dive, I would recommend:
Swimmers, of course! – You don’t put on a wetsuit when you get here so make sure you are comfortable in your swimmers.
Change of clothes – you will want to be dry and comfortable to enjoy the rest of the attractions
Own camera if you like – you are able to take a GoPro in the cage of death. They do also have in house photographers and you can pay for different packages to get official photos of your dive which is what I did.
The Cage of Death low down
It must be noted that the minimum age is 15 and 15-17 year olds must be accompanied by an adult over 18 to swim with the crocs. In the dry season, between May and October, you must prebook this Darwin activity. In school holidays, Crocosaurus Cove Tours can be booked out 2 months in advance so don’t miss out.
You need to arrive at Crocosaurus Cove at least 30 minutes before your scheduled dive for a “briefing” and i’d recommend coming in your swimmers ready to go straight into the cage.
Here we were given goggles and the low down of the famous cage. The cage is attached to an electric track so it can be moved into three different crocodile enclosures so you have to be comfortable with being lifted into the air and moved into another crocs’ pool, but don’t worry it goes very slowly. To get into the cage, you climb down narrow ladders and there is enough room for two people to lay down.
The full experience lasts 15 minutes. The first 10, the cage is submerged three quarters into the water and this is when you can use your goggles to dive down, use the walls of the cage to hold yourself under or stand up comfortably and catch your breath.
In the last 5 minutes, the cage is brought up to 1 quarter under water and you are asked to sit down to watch a big croc feed right in front of your face. So, it’s not like you have to do any swimming to take part in this experience.
This is also when you can choose if you would like a professional photographer to attend your dive, with a number of packages and prices. I went for the full package where I got three printed pics and a disk with all pics and it was worth it.
The photographer can access a room under water and capture your full dive and then come up to the top of the crocs pool and capture the feeding. That way, you can be in the moment and enjoy being so close to the crocs without stopping to check your camera.
Getting up close and personal with the crocodiles
I have to start this by saying that I was really nervous before diving, I was imagining the crocodile trying its hardest to get through the cage wall to eat me. But, rest assured it was a million times calmer than that and it was awesome!
Our dive was with Leo, one of their largest saltwater crocodiles who was 5 meters long and weighs 750kgs! He was relocated from the wild to a crocodile farm after being named a trouble cattle hunter in Darwin, but he escaped the farm and attacked other crocodiles. Now he resides at Crocosaurus cove and is incredibly fast, only the most experienced handlers dare go into his enclosure.
Once in the water, we spent the first 10 minutes diving under as much as possible. If you pay for a photographer, I would recommend propping yourself up by the cage walls with your feet and hands as not only will you get a comfortable view, the photographer will get the best pics with your face at the forefront (also the most flattering pics you can get in swimmers).
The massive saltwater crocodiles can obviously smell you and hear your heartbeat so will come right up to the cage and check you out.
Their eyes are on the side so they do seem to give you the side eye, which can feel a bit creepy and threatening. But if you get over that fear, it is incredible to see the crocodile up close. I could see every jagged tooth and the scales on his skin. Not once did the saltwater crocodile try to bite through the cage or attack so rather than jumping, it was really cool just to feel safe pretty much swimming side by side.
The last 5 minutes was the big feed and this is where I jumped! A fully grown saltwater crocodile has the strongest bite force of any animal at 3 tonnes, which is the weight of a charging bull…oof! Let me tell you, the noise it makes is so loud, I was not expecting it and I jumped out my skin! The flexible croc can also project itself out of the water to catch a feed, the combined with its bite power makes for one loud snap.
Once the feed has finished, the cage of death is then lifted out the croc pool whilst Leo is distracted by more food (so he doesn’t try his luck of getting the cage whilst you’re escaping). You’re then placed back into an empty pool and climb out the ladder again. There are showers and changing rooms so you can get changed to enjoy the rest of the day.
What makes the Crocosaurus cove experience unique?
The most unique part is that it’s Australia’s only cage diving experience with crocodiles and they have the World’s largest display of Australian reptiles, so if you really want to do it, it’s worth visiting Darwin. But I wanted to know more about why the crocs are here and how important Crocosaurus cove is to locals and tourists so I interviewed the manager.
The Northern Territory is home to hundreds of Australia’s iconic saltwater crocodiles and freshwater crocodiles and it’s incredibly important to be croc wise and safe in this area. Crocosaurus cove work with local authorities to protect people from problem crocs in the wild, rather than hunting, they are taken to farms or adopted here.
The big reason they like tourists to visit Crocosaurus cove is so you can grasp how huge a crocodile is and the danger of them so you are wiser when you see one in the wild.
Not only that, the handlers work to retrain the saltwater crocodiles with positive reinforcement. There is no textbook in croc training but they take techniques from horse and dog training so these problem crocs are much calmer in their environment.
One of their largest saltwater crocodiles came from Mindil Beach, the main beach located in the heart of Darwin City. He kept escaping the barriers and scaring locals and tourists on the beach so he was adopted by Crocosaurus cove to retrain and make Darwin safer.
It’s not just about swimming with a saltwater crocodile
After our dive, we explored what Crocosaurus Cove had to offer and joined a “fishing for crocs” experience in which we got to feed baby crocs ourselves. From the crocs platform above the pool, you can attach meat to a bamboo stick and feed one of their 100 energetic baby crocs, all prying for attention. The only place in the world you would want to feed a crocodile I’m sure! You can pre-book your general admission ticket into Crocosaurus Cove here if you’re not looking to dive with them.
We joined a big croc feed show from outside our cage of death and it was awesome to see how powerful they are from the crocs platform. We learnt that crocodiles have remained relatively unchanged for 200 years, they are modern-day dinosaurs! They also have Burt, the famous croc from Crocodile Dundee!
The top-end turtle enclosure was amazing to see, they have many species of rescued turtles including red and yellow face, snapping turtles and pig-nosed turtles. They are cute to see and learn more about them and how we can protect them.
As mentioned, Crocosaurus Cove has the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles and is pretty big with over 70 species to learn about. You can walk through the reptile house at your own pace or join a show to get up close and personal.
Would I do it again?
Even though I was totally nervous before my dive, I would do it again because it was awesome! I think if you are curious about crocs, you may as well get a close-up view in the safety of the cage. Would I want to go near a croc in the wild now? Absolutely not!
Crocosaurus Cove is a great place for visitors to learn about crocs so they can be safer and wiser in the Northern Territory. Even just hearing the sound of their bite force will make you wise up and take any crocodile warnings seriously.
So, are you brave enough to enter the cage of death and dive with crocodiles or see a baby saltwater crocodile up close?
This article is written by Amii Freeman, our resident writer at Londoner In Sydney.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.Follow me on Instagram @amiifreeman!