The Ultimate Shark Diving Bucket List

The scary Hollywood movies about sharks might have scared away some people. Since you have arrived at this article, you must not be one of them and may even love those beautiful misunderstood creatures. You might be crafting your own shark diving bucket list at this very moment. We can help you out and give you the best shark diving locations to make your ultimate shark diving bucket list!

1. Whale Sharks in Mexico

Whale sharks

Q: Where to go swimming with Whale Sharks?

A: Cancun, Isla Mujeres or Isla Contoy, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Q: When to go see whale sharks?

A: From June until mid-September

Q:What certification is required for swimming with whale sharks?

A: No certification needed, it’s snorkeling.

Swimming with whale sharks might be one of the most magnificent experiences because they are officially the biggest sharks in the world. Great aspects of this trip are that firstly, it is for everyone, certified diver or not. Secondly, the sharks are very humble, peaceful and gentle. Therefore, if you are slightly intimidated by sharks then you do not need to be afraid of whale sharks. They are like huge teddy bears of the ocean. Even though they’ve got thousands of teeth, those teeth do not do much and are able to eat only small plankton, fish eggs or other small life forms. Also, swimming with whale sharks is possible because they love staying in shallow waters. The scientist who have studied them, though, have also recorded a few going up to depths of 3200 feet (975 meters).

A small boat, usually fitting a group up to ten people, will take you out to the best spot where you can be swimming with whale sharks. Once you arrive at the spot, it is extremely hard to hide your excitement. You can already start spotting these huge beautiful fish from the surface! To keep them comfortable and safe and follow the rules for responsible swimming with whale sharks only two people at a time are allowed to go and snorkel together with a guide. This way there are no masses jumping directly on them and both sides can enjoy better. Whale sharks are often followed by manta rays and if you are lucky, you might see a group of mantas flying in the water using their huge wings.

2. Bull Sharks in Mexico

bull shark playa del carmen 2018

Q: Where to go diving with bull sharks?

A: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Q: When is the bull shark season?

A: From November until March

Q: What Certification is required for diving with bull sharks?

A: Minimum Advanced Open Water Certification. Bull shark diving goes to 18-30 m deep.

We started off humbler but now it is time to look at some more extreme and adventurous shark diving options. Even though shark attacks, in general, are very rare, bull sharks have gained their bad reputation from the few accidents that have happened due to migrating in rivers with bad visibility and being in an anxious state. Even baby hippos have not been safe during their trips upriver. Also, you might have encountered interesting wildlife pictures of a battle between a crocodile and a bull shark that has only been possible because the sharks can live in both fresh and saltwater. This reputation is why the dive excites many people but in reality, it is a peaceful and wonderful experience.

Diving with bull sharks is done mostly with pregnant females because they come to shallower areas to give birth in order to be protected from the predators. The dives are deep dives where the divers are lined up in the bottom to observe the beautiful sharks. These dives are done in two ways. Either a baited dive, where the sharks are being attracted to the area by some bait, like small fish for example. The other option is also to just freely dive with them. Either option is good to get a close encounter with them. If you are keen on diving with bull sharks, you can also read The Ultimate Guide to Diving with Bull Sharks in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

3. Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas

Tiger Shark

Q: Where can you see tiger sharks?

A: Tiger Beach, Bahamas

Q: When is the tiger sharks season?

A: From November until May

Q: What certification is required?

A: Minimum Open Water Certification. Divers need to have at least 20-30 logged dives. Tiger sharks can be seen at depths of 6 to 12 m. A checkout dive is done first to see if the dive is suitable for the diver.

Tiger Beach in the Bahamas is the best location to meet the beautiful tiger sharks and get a real close encounter diving with them completely freely. This experience can be a real adrenaline rush as they are notorious for being the second most dangerous sharks to humans after the great white shark. Their bad reputation comes due to their undiscerning palate and having the broadest diet compared to other sharks. In case of biting a human, a tiger shark will not swim away unlike the great white because of their bad taste. They even like to swim in garbage and eat it. Some of the strangest things have been found in the stomachs of tiger sharks, like a bottle of wine, license plates, tires or even a bag of money! Thus, the plastic pollution problem is very concerning when it comes to tiger sharks because they would eat almost anything. Nevertheless, divers do not need to be concerned, as they hunt at night using their excellent vision and smelling senses. Our shape, size, and smell is something that does not really interest them.

Shark diving in the Bahamas is mostly organized as a baited dive. Divers are often positioned on a line or in a triangle, further from the feeders. The dives sites are shallow and having generally easy conditions for divers with good visibility. Thus, the dives are often longer. The best part of this dive is that the sharks come very close and this is an amazing opportunity for close encounters and photographers. An added bonus is that often besides tiger sharks you can also see many reef sharks and lemon sharks. But how do you spot a tiger shark from the others? Of course, the easiest feature is the stripes on their backs that gave them their name in the first place. Good to know, though, is that not all tiger sharks have stripes. When they are young, they have grey spots that develop into stripes and again when they get older the stripes fade. What else can help you distinguish them, is the distinct shape of their nose. A short, wide and blunt nose with widely separated nostrils is another good way to spot them.

4. The Shark Hub in Fiji

Sharks

Q: Where is the shark hub located?

A: Beqa Lagoon, Fiji Islands

Q: When can you see sharks in Fiji?

A: All year round. Bull sharks seen less during November and December.

Q: What certification is required to dive with sharks in Fiji?

A: Minimum of 30 logged dives including 5 or more deep logged dives is recommended.

Shark dives in Fiji can be seen as the melting pot of different sharks. You can meet eight species of sharks during just one of your dives there. Divers are mostly traveling there to dive with tiger and bull sharks but besides them, you can also meet black, white, and silvertip sharks, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, and grey reef sharks. What is even better about Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, is that the reefs themselves are absolutely gorgeous to see and thus you can also see other beautiful creatures like turtles, manta rays or moray eels passing by. Locals have been swimming with sharks there for over 3000 years and that is why it has become a great spot for divers and sharks to be together. 

We have already introduced you to tiger and bull sharks but what about the other sharks? Lemon sharks, distinguished by their yellowish skin, are non-aggressive and very gentle, thus also very popular to dive with. They are one of the most researched sharks because they are able to stay the longest in captivity without any harm, hence scientists have been able to study them. Whitetip and blacktip, both are easily recognized due to their fin tip colors. Both of them are very social sharks and pose minimal threat to humans. Similarly, to the aforementioned sharks, the silvertip sharks have also features that give them their name but when speaking about their character, they are considered more aggressive because they are hunters and have unpredictable behavior. Next to them you can see grey reef sharks that are like a mix of the black and white tip shark having white tip on the dorsal fin and black tips on the other fins. Grey reef sharks are also friendly, social sharks. Lastly, the nurse sharks are quite sleepy during the day but a bit more active during the nights. Their mouths are so small that they are not able to eat any large fish and due to being very mellow people are usually not startled by their presence and happy to swim or dive with them. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be to meet all of them at once?

5. Great White Sharks in Africa

Great White Shark

Q: Where can you see white sharks?

A: South Africa, Seal Island or Gansbaai

Q: When is Great White Sharks season?

A: High season is from June to September but there is a possibility to see them all year around due to their unpredictable behavior.

Q: What certification is required?

A: No certification is needed for cage diving with great white sharks.

When you really want to pump up your adrenaline, then diving with great white sharks might be something to tick off your bucket list. Getting close to the largest predatory fish in the world with the reputation of being an aggressive killer will definitely be an experience that even amnesia cannot wipe out! Great whites are mostly known as hostile but they need to be more afraid of humans than the other way around. Fishing and pollution has wiped out a large number of these creatures. The rare accidents were not even fatal as humans are not on their food menu. They hunt their prey during sunrise using their incredible sense of smell. Great whites can smell a drop of blood from 3 miles (5km) away. 

Shark cage diving has grown a lot of popularity as the aggressive image of sharks created by the movie “Jaws” is fading, and cage diving will give the best chance to meet these apex predators up close. You can also dive with them freely, but the chance to see them on a regular, non-baited dive without a cage, is quite low. Thus, baited cage dives organized by shark diving professionals are the best way to safely get a close encounter with these misunderstood creatures. Also non-certified divers can get a chance to meet them as the dives are done in shallow waters with a chance to go to the surface. A boat will take a group of divers out to a site, where the sharks are attracted by bait like small fish or even seals. Once the sharks become visible from the boat then the cage will be dropped in and the fun can begin.

6. Hammerhead Sharks in Ecuador

Hammerhead Shark

Q: Where can you dive with hammerhead sharks?

A: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Q: When is the hammerhead sharks season in Ecuador?

A: High season is from June to November but some stay all year around. Best spot for all year sighting is near Gordon Rocks.

Q: What dive certification is required?

A: Suitable for more experienced, advanced divers

Diving with hammerhead sharks in Galapagos can be definitely one of the most unique experiences. Galapagos islands itself already offer absolutely wonderful dives and being very colorful and rich in marine life. Also it is known to be the best to see the rare and big marine life. What makes this dive special, is that you won’t just spot a few of the hammerheads swimming around but you can see multiple groups of five, a hundred or even a whole wall created of hammerhead sharks. 

The sharks themselves are not as curious so it is harder to get a closer look at them. Thus, it is recommended to stay as motionless and as still as possible and never swim at them but parallel with them. They have very small mouths, thus they hunt for small prey only and are not aggressive, therefore no threat to humans. In case they get agitated, they first will show signs of being anxious before attacking and any shark diving professional will be able to read those signs. What is fun about these sharks, is that the younger sharks like to sunbathe and often go closer to the surface and become darker than others. Luckily, their skin does not get sun damaged which is why scientists are trying to figure out how to prevent sun damage on humans by studying them. Galapagos islands offer a lot of options for liveaboard so you can properly spend time with these special sharks. 

Which one of these options would be your number one choice? Let us know! Or tell us about your own experiences with sharks.