So you want to know where to dive with sharks.
Well, that might take a while because it’s a loaded question. What kind of sharks do you want to see (I’m guessing you want to cage dive with Great White Sharks, correct)? There are hundreds of species of sharks, many of which can (and should only be) viewed with a specific kind of diving experience.
You wouldn’t snorkel with a Great White Shark, for example, despite what the odd YouTube video might suggest. But, it’s more than possible to snorkel with whale sharks and smaller reef sharks if you’re up for adventure.
And where exactly do you dive with sharks? Anywhere there are sharks to see, although for simplicity and to get the best experience out of it, in this post we’re going to focus on tropical waters near(-ish) the equator.
It’s in these spots where you’re likely to see the greatest variety of species – and where sharks are more likely to show up and say hello.
Where to Dive With Sharks: A Liveaboard Experience
Before we go further, let’s clarify a few things. Shark diving is a broad term that includes snorkeling, SCUBA, surface-to-cage diving, spotting from a boat and even swimming with some of the more docile species.
In this post we’re going to talk about shark diving on a liveaboard dive boat. These are perfect for shark diving because they can get in those elusive spots you won’t reach from shore.
They’re a lot of fun too – and in most cases, they’re small businesses based in the shark diving spots we’re going to discuss. See sharks, help small businesses. I like it already. Allow me to reiterate I am an affiliate of the boats listed here and may get a commission if you book through them at no additional cost to you.
Also note that most of this liveaboard shark diving excursions will likely need you to be SCUBA-certified unless otherwise instructed. There are two exceptions to this: first, you don’t need Scuba certification to cage dive with white sharks at Guadalupe because you will likely breathe surface-supplied air from the boat to your cage.
Second, I’ve listed a snorkeling-with-sharks excursion at the Galapagos in the end of this post. This is a good option if you’re keen to see shark from the surface and/or haven’t gone all in with Scuba just yet.
Please consult with each boat if you have further questions about diving at each of these locations.
There’s no dancing around this one. Mexico is a rich shark diving destination with a variety of sharks, including – any guesses? The country’s proximity to the United States and Canada also make Mexico a good spot for folks who’ve seen too much Shark Week and want to see sharks without a huge trip across the Pacific.
Are you Canadian or American and want to know where to dive with sharks? Mexico is an excellent place to do it.
Guadalupe – OK, let’s get this out now. I know you want to cage dive with great white sharks. In many, dare I say most cases, this is where you should do it. Guadalupe is a volcanic ridge of an island off Baja California (in Mexican waters), about 260 miles south of San Diego.
It’s also the spot where yours truly saw his very first Great White Shark – and I’ve never really let that go 🙂 See?
Why Here: Great White Sharks congregate at Guadalupe annually between August and December, with the best viewing in the later part of the year, albeit with choppier seas. But it’s the visibility that makes Guadalupe stand out. You can see 100+ feet on a good day.
Not to talk smack about white shark diving in Cape Town, but Guadalupe wins that competition hands down.
Guadalupe is also a reliable place to see Great White Sharks. Even when you go shark cage diving in California at known hot spots like Los Angeles and the Farrallon Islands (off San Francisco), Guadalupe always seems to have the most sharks, and they rarely disappoint.
It’s stunning, it’s convenient and like Ole’ Faithful in Yellowstone, it’s a reliable-as-heck place to see Great White Sharks. That’s it, done. Everything else is gravy.
Sharks You Might See: Come on, really? Well, you’ve got a very good chance to see Great White Sharks here – although whale sharks at Guadalupe have happened before.
Try This Boat: Nautilus Explorer. They’re one of the first operators at Guadalupe and a good outfit at that. They’re slightly more budget-friendly too – and a good starting point for first time white shark cage divers.
Socorro – It’s tempting to pull up a chair, er, cage, and stay a while at Guadalupe for obvious reasons. But if you’re a serious shark diver, you’ll be handsomely rewarded by chugging a little further south down Baja California to another volcanic island in the area called Socorro. The dive season is a little later here, from November to May (as opposed to August-December at Guadalupe). But if you want to know where to dive with sharks. Socorro should be on your radar. Here’s why.
Why Here: A huge show of sharks. I get it, you want to see Great White Sharks. You might see one here, but you’ll see greater variety of sharks at Socorro than Guadalupe. Also like Guadalupe, the visibility rocks. And with 40 meter drop-off walls at the main dive site, Roca Partida is a stunning dive where you’ll see plenty of pelagic sharks,
Sharks You Might See: Oceanic Whitetips, Scalloped Hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, Tiger sharks and Whale sharks, among others. Great Whites rock, but variety does too.
Try This Boat: Valentina – an established boat in the region that blends plenty of amenities and luxury at a price that won’t break your wallet. A highly rated boat.
Even non-divers know of the Maldives. The tiny island archipelago/nation just south of India is one of the top three dive spots on Earth for its crystal blue waters and stunning marine life. Well, it’s a pretty darn good spot to go shark diving too – especially if you want to see hammerhead sharks.
Rasdhoo Atoll – Try to imagine the purest blue in history. Now put that image in 4K definition and you get an idea why Rasdhoo Atoll is a must-do for divers – shark diver or not. You’ll need a live aboard dive boat to get here, as you will with all the dive spots we’ll discuss in this post.
Why Here: It’s the Maldives bro, one of the top three dive spots on the planet. You’ll see sharks, sea life and a remote pocket of an archipelago that should be on Planet Earth part III. This is a dive you’ll remember forever.
Sharks You Might See: Hammerhead sharks. They’re attracted to the deepwater here, especially at a spot called ‘Hammerhead Point’. Creative naming, done for a good reason. Hammerheads hunt stingrays at Rasdhoo Atoll, and congregate by the hundreds.
Try This Boat: Emperor Virgo, a Maldives liveaboard dive boat that gets excellent reviews and strikes a great balance of luxury and amenities with a price that won’t send your accountant through the roof. Rough translation? An excellent value Maldives shark diving boat.
There’s more to Egypt than the Pyramids and Cleopatra. It’s an excellent shark diving spot too that rewards experienced divers with a variety of shark species. Emphasis on that word, ‘experienced’ – shark diving here can be tricky, and probably best left to folks with a few dives on their resume. Still, it’s an excellent spot, and no list of where to dive with sharks is complete without Egypt.
Elphinstone, Daedalus, St Johns – These are three islands in the Red Sea. You’ll likely need a liveaboard dive boat from Marsa Alam to get here. Each island is a prime shark habitat, and worth the trip if you’re an experienced diver and down to see sharks.
Why Here: Each island is a little different. The first two are drift dives (when you move with the tide or current) that have steep walls. St Johns is a collection of beautiful reefs that – wait for it – are actually healthy! Each island is a shark hotspot, although St Johns is the least challenging of the three. Its west side is suitable for divers of most skill levels.
Another consideration for shark diving in Egypt; it’s one of the most affordable shark diving spots in the world. You’ll see this in the price of shark diving boats.
Sharks You Might See: Oceanic Whitetips (October – December), Hammerheads, Grey Reef Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Silvertips. And, if you’re very lucky, you might see a Thresher Shark emerge from the depths.
Try This Boat: Blue Fin – an aptly named Red Sea live aboard dive boat that gets divers there in comfort and, yup, a little luxury too. Any guesses what you might see on a boat called ‘Blue Fin’? This boat is a favourite among divers in the Red Sea. Book well ahead, it fills up quick.
Ditch the pina colada and get your Scuba gear. The Bahamas may be the ultimate place to chill, but they’re also a great place to see sharks. Most shark divers know of Tiger Beach. Yup, that’s here, along with many other species of sharks that earn the Bahamas a perennial spot on the knowledgable shark geek’s list of where to dive with sharks.
Tiger Beach: A name like that tells you a lot. Nope, you won’t see Great Whites here, but you’ve got a really good shot of seeing another big shark that happens to rhyme with ‘Eiger Bark’ (I’m scraping the barrel for analogies, work with me bro). You’ll see Tiger Sharks here and, though controversial, it’s a popular ‘shark feeding’ spot, where you kneel on the sand and watch sharks come to you.
Why Here: Tiger sharks, and the ability to get up close with a variety of shark species in a locale not far from Canada or the United States.
Sharks You Might See: What he said – Tiger sharks. Also, Lemon Sharks, Bull Sharks, Great Hammerheads, Duskies, Silkies and Reef Sharks. Tiger Beach is a shark lover’s dream.
Try This Boat: Bahamas Aggressor – a perennial favourite among shark divers in the Bahamas that scores big for its crew, its food and the camaraderie. Folks bond with each other on the Bahamas Aggressor.
C’mon, you didn’t think I forgot about this one, did you? Any list of ‘Where to Dive with Sharks’ is void without the Galapagos – that place where Darwin first developed his thesis that eventually let to some concept called ‘Evolution’. It’s also the spot where the late shark conservationist Rob Stewart found evidence of illegal longline fishing, despite it being a marine reserve.
Why Here: The Galapagos are a good litmus test for the state of our oceans. Three islands in particular form ‘Hammerhead Triangle’ and make some of the best shark diving on the planet. It’s also one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Cocos Island (Costa Rica) – Costa Rica’s Cocos Island is renowned for its shark diving. It’s a slog to get here, at 550KM off the coast, which translates to a 36 hours trip just to get there. But your reward may be something few people ever see: hundreds of hammerhead sharks swimming together, including the highly endangered squat hammerhead shark.
Malpelo Island (Colombia) – Unlike Cocos Island, Malpelo tends to fly under the radar. But it’s a mistake not to dive at Malpelo Island if you love sharks, with just as many hammerheads seen here and Silky Sharks as well. It’s also a little closer to the mainland, albeit not much, at 500KM from Colombia.
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) – The region’s namesake, the Galapagos Islands are on many a scuba diver’s bucket list, and for good reason. You’ll see plenty of sharks here, year-round, although the best time for Galapagos diving tends to be December-May.
Sharks You Might See: Hammerheads, Silky Sharks, Whale Sharks and the aptly named Galapagos Shark. With a little luck, you’ll see sharks in the hundreds at any of these islands.
A word about diving in the Galapagos (at any of the islands). This is a very special place. It’s the planet’s underwater Church – a place where sharks, whales, fish and marine life congregate and show incredible biodiversity that has inspired divers and travellers for hundreds of years. Be very respectful of the natural environment when shark diving anywhere, including the Galapagos. As the saying goes, “Take only pictures, kill only time, leave only bubbles”. Let the sharks do their job, don’t bug them, and simply appreciate the chance to glimpse it, if only for a short while
A little scuba diving etiquette goes a long way.
Try This Boat: For Scuba diving, try Galapagos Sky, one of the most comfortable and highly rated Galapagos liveaboard boats that know where to find sharks here – especially hammerheads.
Galapagos Snorkeling with Sharks: Try Natural Paradise – a liveaboard dive boat that specializes in snorkeling and island tours. There’s no scuba diving with this option, but the snorkeling provides plenty of opportunities to see sharks in this special corner of the globe.