Fact: There are 440 known species of shark around the world. That’s a lot of sharks to log! But from hammerheads to bamboo sharks, you’re sure to meet at least one of these toothy animals during your scuba diving career. While landlubbers may misunderstand these amazing creatures, scuba divers get addicted to seeing them. If that’s you, be sure to add these ten amazing dive sites to your must-dive list for the best shark encounters in the world.

diving with hammerhead sharks in cocos island

1. Bajo Alcyone – Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Far removed from the Costa Rican mainlandCocos Island is consistently ranked one of the top destinations in the world for hammerhead shark diving. Only accessible by liveaboard, you’ll undoubtedly dive several world-class sites during a trip to Cocos Island, but the sharkiest dive of them all is Bajo Alcyone. This seamount rises to 82 feet (25 meters) and attracts dozens of hammerhead sharks. All you have to do is dive to the top of the mount, wedge into a protected area and take in the action above, below and next to you.

  • Dive Type: Seamount
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Scalloped Hammerhead
  • When to Go: June to November for the best marine life. December to May for the best water conditions.

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Thresher Shark

2. Monad Shoal – Malapascua, Philippines

With so many islands, the Philippines has hundreds of shark dives showcasing whale sharks, reef sharks and zebra sharks. But shark enthusiasts will know the Philippines for one dive in particular – Monad Shoal in Malapascua. This is the most consistent site in the world for thresher shark sightings. At 100 feet (30 meters), divers wait for the thresher sharks to come for their daily cleaning. So, if you’d like to see the wild-tailed shark, head to this tiny island paradise.

  • Dive Type: Ridge
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Thresher Shark
  • When to Go: November to June

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Photo: Roberto Ochoa

3. Gordon Rocks – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands is one of three destinations that make up the “Shark Triangle.” The other two are Cocos Island and Malpelo. Much like the other destinations, the Galapagos are home to schools of hammerhead sharks, and one site, in particular, is known as a shark diving mecca. At Gordon Rocks, an eroded crater near Santa Cruz Island, strong currents attract dozens of hammerheads into a confined area. Divers can safely get fairly close to the sharks, but this dive site should only be attempted by divers with current experience.

  • Dive Type: Drift
  • Recommended Level: Intermediate to Advanced
    Featured Sharks: Scalloped, Great and Smooth Hammerheads
  • When to Go: June to November

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4. Tiger Beach – Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

The Bahamas is known as the world’s best shark diving destination. It’s true that you can swim with reef sharks, hammerheads and oceanic whitetips around these gorgeous islands. But one of the best sites is Tiger Beach, where you’re nearly guaranteed a safe encounter with tiger sharks. Every day, several of these fierce sharks show up to be seen by local divers. You’ll wait in groups on the sandy bottom as the sharks circle around for several minutes. As an added bonus, you might also see nurse, lemon and Caribbean reef sharks while diving at Tiger Beach.

  • Dive Type: Sandy Bottom
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Tiger Shark
  • When to Go: October to January

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best places to dive with sharks cuba
Photo: Sandro Lonardi

5. Pipín – Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

The Gardens of the Queen (a.k.a. Jardines de la Reina) in Cuba are fast becoming one of the best shark diving destinations in the world. Only accessible by liveaboard, this protected area boasts several sharky dive sites. At Pipín, divers can swim alongside up to 30 silkies and Caribbean reef sharks in just one dive! After years of protection by the Cuban government, these sharks are more curious than fearful of divers, approaching them at will. Just keep an eye on your dive buddy to make sure he or she doesn’t lose their regulator out of shock!

  • Dive Type: Wall
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
    Featured Creature: Caribbean Reef Sharks and Silky Sharks
  • When to Go: December to April

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6. Isla Guadalupe, Mexico

One of the four places in the world to dive with great white sharks, Isla Guadalupe is quickly becoming a favorite. This may be because of its warm, clear waters or it might have to do with the relaxed regulations on encounters. Here you can dive with these huge sharks using open-top cages, half emerging from your protection for an unbarred view of the predators. Isla Guadalupe is accessible only by liveaboard and fails to have any named sites. Rather, you’ll dive in the open blue wherever the liveaboard crew thinks is best for the day.

  • Dive Type: Blue Water
  • Recommended Level: Advanced (diving without a cage) or Beginner (diving with a cage)
  • Featured Shark: Great White Shark
  • When to Go: July to November

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Bull Shark - Fiji Shark Dive - Beqa Lagoon

7. Shark Dive – Beqa Lagoon, Fiji

Billed locally as the “Best Shark Dive in the World,” this part of Beqa Lagoon near the southern coast of Viti Levu in Fiji has been the site of shark diving for nearly a decade. On an average day, about 50 sharks show up. Bull sharks are the main attraction, but you’ll also see nurse, lemon, white-tip, black-tip, silvertip, gray and maybe even tiger sharks.

  • Dive Type: Reef
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Bull Shark
  • When to Go: July to September

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8. Gladden Spit Whale Shark Dive – Placencia, Belize

If you’re looking for sharks that are a little more gentle, try diving with whale sharks in Belize. Gladden Spit near Placencia is known for encounters with these giants, who are attracted to the area for the delicious fish eggs produced by spawning snappers. The best chance of seeing a whale shark during a dive occur just before and just after the full moon.

  • Dive Type: Open Ocean
  • Recommended Level: Intermediate
  • Featured Shark: Whale Shark
  • When to Go: March to June

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9. The Canyons – Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Inside Tiputa Pass, the Canyons is one of many great shark dive sites in French Polynesia. During incoming current, divers begin in the mouth of the pass, finding shelter in an underwater cavern and waiting for gray reef sharks to appear. The dive continues through the pass, pausing in several canyons along the way for shark observation. Strong current attracts upwards of 200 gray reef sharks from June to July and a smaller number of great hammerheads at the beginning of the year.

  • Dive Type: Drift
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Great Hammerheads and Gray Reef Sharks
  • When to Go: January to March for Great Hammerheads; June and July for Gray Reef Sharks

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10. Pyramid Rock – False Bay, South Africa

South Africa may be famous for its great white shark diving and sardine migration, but it’s also one of two places in the world to dive with cow sharks (a.k.a. sevengill sharks). Deep in the shallow, kelp forest, chances of seeing this rarely seen shark are high. In fact, up to 18 sevengills can be seen at once because of their behavior as social feeders. You’ll need a 7mm wetsuit or drysuit to enjoy the dive, but it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Dive Type: Kelp Forest
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Cow Shark
  • When to Go: May to August

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Are you ready for the thrill of shark diving? Contact one of PADI Travel’s scuba diving experts to schedule your trip today!

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