Most divers want to scuba dive with sharks. If you listen to divers that’ve just surfaced, they’ll be excitedly comparing notes on what they’ve seen, with sharks often top of the list. So to help you spend more time underwater with sharks we’ve put together 10 of the best shark diving spots worldwide.
Scuba dive with sharks
There are over 400 species of shark, so shark diving takes on many different forms. In size they range from the tiny 20 cm long dwarf lanternshark, to 12 meter long whale sharks – the largest fish in the ocean. Sharks such as the great white, mako, bull and tiger sharks can be dangerous, but many species are safe to dive with.
Those wanting to see great whites or other aggressive species will have to do so in a cage. Beyond giving you a safe and close up shark encounter, an advantage of cage diving is that it’s open to those without a diving certificate – so anyone can try.
In some places you can feed sharks while wearing a chainmail suit. In others sharks are attracted with bait. But in most places where you scuba dive with sharks it’s all left up to chance. You go diving where sharks often visit and hope to see them, which is why the best shark diving spots worldwide are so special.
Please note, we are not going to address the ethical issues of cage diving, feeding and baiting sharks in this article. Every person has their own opinion on these issues and every dive destination has different circumstances and rules. So we leave it up to you to decide for yourself.
Best shark diving spots worldwide
In choosing the best destinations for shark diving we’ve mainly concentrated on the larger species of shark. We’ve looked for locations where you can reliably scuba dive with sharks, where you can see many different species, or see large amounts of sharks on a single dive.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Sat 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, Cocos is the world’s largest uninhabited island, and can be dived only on a ‘liveaboard’ trip. The area is famous for its remoteness and diversity of marine life, and is best known for its hammerhead sharks, of which there are hundreds.
Alcyone, a large rock lying between 25 and 45 metres, is the place to go to see schools of these beasts. Some of these hammerheads grow up to 6-metres long! White tip, bull, and whale sharks are also frequently spotted.
Rocas Atoll, Brazil
This remote volcanic atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 144 miles from mainland Brazil. The resident population is less than 3000, and tourism is regulated, meaning that there is little to disturb the marine life here.
The most commonly seen species is the lemon shark, a relatively gentle creature that thrives in these warm, shallow waters, feeding off the colourful coral reef fish. Schools of around 30 lemon sharks can be seen here. Other species of shark are also common, including nurse and reef sharks.
Perhaps surprisingly, given its location, Rhode Island is one of the world’s best sites for shark cage diving. During summer, migratory sharks reach Rhode Island while at the most northerly point of their range. Blue sharks are the most common, seen between July and October.
In June, basking sharks sun themselves near the surface, so even non-divers can catch a glimpse. The highly aggressive mako shark is also sometimes seen, often leaping several metres out of the water making this one of the best shark diving spots worldwide.
Well-known as a location for scuba diving holidays of all kinds, Nassau is particularly good place to scuba dive with sharks. Cage divers are likely to see tiger sharks – so named because of their distinctive dark stripes. This is one of the most dangerous species, second only to the great white in terms of numbers of attacks on humans.
Shark feeding trips, for which the feeders wear chain mail, tend to focus on the less aggressive reef shark. Other common species here include lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and hammerheads.
Gansbaai, South Africa
Gansbaai, near Cape Town, South Africa, may be the best place in the world to see great white sharks, and there are plenty cage diving operators to take you up close. The islands of Dyer and Geyser Rock are full of seals and penguins: prime shark food.
There is a narrow channel between the islands, where the great whites lie in wait for this prey, so sighting them is pretty much guaranteed. The water in the channel is shallow, making this also an ideal spot for shark viewing from the surface.
Neptune Island, Australia
This area provides great whites with an ideal habitat. The rocky outcrops and deep drops mean that the sharks can swim near the surface for food, and then drop back down into the colder, deeper waters. Seals and sea lions provide them with a good source of nutrition.
Cage diving boats leave from Port Lincoln. There are multi-day liveaboard dive trips plus one-day excursions available The cooler months of May to October are the best time to see scuba dive with sharks here.
Guadalupe Island, Mexico
At just 20 miles long, the volcanic island of Guadalupe is one of Mexico’s most isolated. Thanks to its relative obscurity, its flora and fauna remain unique and well protected. Located 160 miles from Mexico’s Baja Coast, and 220 miles from San Diego, it’s within easy reach.
During summer, the island’s waters are host to one of the most predictable gatherings of great white sharks. Pacific blue sharks are also seen. As with other great white diving sites divers are protected by a cage as with prey in the water they can be aggressive. These safety measure help divers get close, but not too close.
Mozambique’s warm, clear waters offer some spectacular scuba diving trips, often in quiet and undiscovered locations. The most commonly seen sharks here are whale sharks, the largest of all such species and perhaps the grandest fish of the sea. The spectacular and graceful manta ray is also common.
A variety of resorts along the coast offer shark (and other) diving, and there are plenty of reefs to explore if you tire of swimming with the whale sharks. The highest concentration of whale sharks can be found around Praia do Tofo, one of the best shark diving spots worldwide.
Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Fiji
The resort of Beqa Lagoon, Fiji, is a great place to stay while exploring the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in fiji. Although the reefs are nothing spectacular, coral is not what most come here for. With perhaps the most wide-ranging collection of shark species, this is one of the best shark diving spots worldwide.
It is home to whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, tawny nurse sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, silvertip sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks. Trips tend to take divers around various feeding location with different types of sharks seen at each, as the dive leaders draw them in with bait.
A variety of resorts and operators in the Cebu area offer trips to scuba dive with sharks. The resort of Malapascua is the only place in the world where thresher sharks are reliably seen; this distinctive species is easily identified by its long tail.
As well as thresher sharks, across the Cebu area whale sharks, reef sharks, bamboo sharks, nurse sharks and hammerhead sharks live year-round in these waters. What’s really great about diving here is the diversity of marine life, after all, it’s not only sharks we like to dive with.
We hope our 10 of the best shark diving spots worldwide has you booking a trip to scuba dive with sharks. Be sure to check out our scuba diving discounts as you could save a fortune on your next trip.