10 Epic Shark Dive Destinations
This past February I was snorkeling in the Galapagos, down around 20 feet drifting along the side of a narrow channel between islands. The abundant marine life moved in all directions and I was enchanted by a couple large triggerfish. Suddenly the perfect quiet was broken by the clap of tails on scales as a school of surgeonfish darted in front of me towards the shallower water. I instinctively looked left to where the fish came from, where a massive black triangle faded into the deep water of the channel.
This wild experience sent chills down my spine and a barrage of thoughts as I came back to the surface. It’s the same thrill many shark divers seek out on a regular basis - a balance of adrenaline and beauty. Some divers love the high-energy action of chumming and shark feeding; some get into cages with huge Great Whites; some travel to sharky waters for wild encounters and some swim alongside gentle whale sharks.
Whatever your flavor, these are destinations/dives that should be high on all shark-minded divers’ trip lists. We’ve excluded whale sharks in order to focus on the fast action of predatory sharks for this list. And more importantly, we’re starting a conversation. You want to dive with sharks and Bluewater Travel wants to help book the perfect trip at the lowest possible price. Let’s work together to get in the water for these dives!
Where: Several locations
Type: Baited, feeding & wild encounters
The Bahamas are home to several renowned shark dives. Crystal clear water, white sand and sunshine create fun diving conditions for some adrenaline-filled dives. Visit Tiger Beach for (you guessed it) tiger sharks. Watch Caribbean reef sharks being fed at “The Arena”. Visit the waters near Bimini to swim with great hammerheads in shallow water. Swim with oceanic white tips at Cat Island. If that’s not enough, throw in lemon sharks, other reef sharks, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and some other great Caribbean diving.
Diving with tiger sharks is always exhilarating. Photo: Ron Watkins
A lemon shark reflects on the surface. Photo: Ron Watkins
Type: Shark feeding
Fiji is a diver’s paradise, so it makes sense that it is home to one of the best shark dives in the world. The shark dive at Beqa lagoon is renowned worldwide as one of the few places divers can reliably get close to large bull sharks. Shark feeding is the name of the game, attracting many bull sharks and the occasional tiger shark. These big fish are the stars of the show, but expect to see grey sharks, black tips and other reef sharks.
Bull sharks patrol the waters of Beqa Lagoon. Photo: Carolyn Wang
An experienced guide hand feeds a bull shark. Photo: Carolyn Wang
Type: Wild encounters
Declared a national marine park in 1959, the remote Galapagos Islands are home to many pelagic and reef shark species. Swim with whale sharks in the fall or watch for schooling scalloped hammerheads near Wolf and Darwin Islands. Hammerheads can be seen at any dive site and it’s common to have a Galapagos shark circle your boat at some anchorages. The islands form an oasis in the open ocean and a great hunting ground for pelagic sharks, so keep your eyes open on every dive.
Wolf and Darwin Islands are home to large hammerhead schools. Photo: Kadu Pinheiro
Sharks are found in abundance in the Galapagos Islands. Photo: Kadu Pinheiro
Where: Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia
Type: Wild encounters
Talk of Rangiroa has been increasing in diving circles with the recent discovery of grouper spawning aggregations. With these large aggregations of fish come their predators – sharks. Rangiroa is said to have countless sharks in the water during the spawning, and Bluewater Photo will be there in July 2014 for a workshop around the event. It’s necessary to plan your trip around the spawning event, so make sure to have Bluewater Travel help set this up for you.
Rangiroa is an incredible shark diving destination. Photo: Rene Capozzola
Jardines de la Reina
Type: Wild & baited encounters
This popular dive area has recently risen to the attention of North American divers after enjoying popularity with European divers for a number of years. Protected Caribbean reefs are home to many large sharks, with frequent sightings of Caribbean and silky sharks. It’s safe to say you will have sharky dives… every dive. Learn more in our article on diving Jardines de la Reina.
Exciting shark encounters await divers who venture to Jardines de la Reina. Photo: Goran Butajla
A Caribbean reef shark cruises along the reef. Photo: Goran Butajla
Where: Columbia (boats often leave from Panama)
Type: Wild encounters
Malpelo is another remote Eastern Pacific island known for wild shark encounters. Most famous are its hammerhead cleaning stations, where divers can get close and personal with the large sharks in shallow water. Other pelagics are common, including seasonal schools of silky sharks, plus Galapagos sharks, mantas, eagle rays, dolphins and more.
Schooling hammerheads make a close pass. Photo: Carolyn Wang
A scalloped hammerhead cruises by for a closer inspection. Photo: Carolyn Wang
Type: Cage diving with great whites
Isla Guadalupe is a well-known destination for ultimate cage diving experiences. Clear water and reliable sightings make it arguably the best place to photograph and (cage) dive with great white sharks.
A great white shark goes for the bait. Photo: Ron Watkins
A great white shark shows off its impressive girth. Photo: Ron Watkins
Aliwal Shoal & Protea Banks
Where: South Africa
Type: Wild & baited encounters
Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are both near Durban and offer incredible shark diving. Aliwal Shoal is known for the aggregation of ragged tooth (sand tiger) sharks that appears every fall, offering some very sharky dives. Large populations or other sharks are seen year-round. Protea Banks is a rich reef, and it’s no wonder that bull sharks are frequently seen, as well as tiger sharks and many other pelagic and reef sharks.
Blacktip sharks are year-round residents at Aliwal Shoal and make for interesting and exciting subjects on baited shark dives. Photo: Cormac McCreesh
Ragged tooth (sand tiger) shark, taken at Raggie Cave. Photo: Cormac McCreesh
Type: Reliable wild encounters at cleaning stations
Malapascua Island, located north of Cebu in the Visayas is known for daily pelagic thresher shark dives. Known locally as Lawihan, the sharks visit shallow cleaning stations on Monad Shoal each morning, treating divers to close-up experiences. Fortunately, Typhoon Yolanda (fall 2013) did not claim any casualties on Monad Shoal, however it did destroy housing, boats and buildings. Fear not, however, because dive trips and incredible thresher shark diving is as exciting as ever (with thanks due to the national and international dive community for their support).
Thresher sharks are infamous for their extemely long tail. Photo: Rafn Ingi Finnsson
A thresher shark swims towards the photographer. Photo: Rafn Ingi Finnsson
Where: Costa Rica
Type: Wild encounters
Diving remote Cocos Island is a must for big animal lovers. It is one of the very few places you can still see schooling hammerhead sharks, as well as many other pelagic species. In addition, divers are treated to mantas, whale sharks, marble rays, large schools of fish and other pelagic surprises.
Type: Baited open water dives
Our 11th shark dive destination is off the radar for many but host to some surprisingly good dives. Bluewater Photo runs annual blue and mako shark dives every spring. Some days may have one shark while others may have 10+, with close open water encounters. You never know what will show up, and on one day in 2013 a salmon shark cruised up to the boat, which is very rare. Check out some photos on the Bluewater Photo Facebook page.
Mako shark off Southern California. Photo: Scott Gietler
Blue shark off Southern California. Photo: Scott Gietler
Let Bluewater Book Your Shark Trip
Plan your next shark diving trip with the help of Bluewater Travel’s expert travel advisors. Our team will help you book a trip to the right resort or perfect liveaboard at the lowest possible price.
Visit Bluewater Travel or email email@example.com for more info.
Protect the Sharks
Shark conservation efforts have been increasing in recent years but still need all the support they can get. Whether you have some extra time, a useful skill or even a small financial contribution to make, both shark non-profits below (and any others) would love to hear from you.
About the Author
Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver, photographer and writer dedicated to capturing unique underwater, ocean lifestyle and adventure images. Brent is editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. Make sure to follow UWPG on Facebook for updates on everything underwater-photography.
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