How many species of shark have you heard of? 5 or 10 species or maybe more? Be prepared to be blown away by what comes next…

Fact: There are 440 known species of shark around the world! That’s a lot of sharks to view and log. From wobbegongs to whale sharks and silvers to silkies, it’s easy to see why so many scuba divers become addicted to seeing them. This is why many of us plan vacations and dives around viewing these magnificent animals. If this sounds like you, be sure to add these thirteen amazing shark diving sites to your must-dive list for the best shark encounters in the world.

Hammerhead Shark School

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 seasonal schooling hammerhead sharks (see when to go below). All you have to do is dive to the top of the mount, wedge into a protected area and take in the action all around you!

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

Thresher Shark

2. Monad Shoal – Malapascua, Philippines

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

  • Dive Type: Ridge
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Thresher Shark
  • When to Go: November to June for the best thresher shark action

Hammerhead Shark School

3. Gordon Rocks – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands is one of three destinations that make up the legendary “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. Strong currents at Gordon Rocks, an eroded crater near Santa Cruz Island, attract dozens of hammerheads into a confined area. The currents bring plankton, which in turn results in high fish numbers, attracting the hammerheads! Divers can safely get fairly close to the sharks, but this dive site should only be attempted by divers with experience in diving in currents.

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

best places to dive with tiger sharks

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. However, one of the best sites is Tiger Beach, where you’re nearly guaranteed a safe encounter with tiger sharks. Several of these fierce sharks appear every day to be seen by local divers. Divers 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

Shark diving with Caribbean Reef Sharks
Photo: Sandro Lonardi

5. Pipín – Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

The Gardens of the Queen (a.k.a. Jardines de la Reina) in Cuba is quickly becoming one of the best shark diving destinations in the world. Only accessible by liveaboard, this protected area boasts several incredible 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 (which is clearly evident underwater) by the Cuban government, these sharks are more curious than fearful of divers approaching them at will.

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

Bull Shark - Fiji Shark Dive - Beqa Lagoon

6. 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 – the variety is part of the attraction!

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

Diving with a Whale Shark

7. Gladden Spit Whale Shark Dive – Placencia, Belize

If you’re looking for a slightly gentler shark, try diving with the mighty whale sharks in Belize. Gladden Spit near Placencia is known for encounters with these gentle, filter-feeding 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 occurs just before and after the full moon when there are higher plankton levels in the water.

  • Dive Type: Open Ocean
  • Recommended Level: Intermediate
  • Featured Shark: Whale Shark
  • When to Go: March to June and around a full moon

Gray Reef Sharks

8. The Canyons – Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Inside Tiputa Pass, the Canyons is one of many great shark dive sites in French Polynesia. During an 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 with drift diving experience
  • Featured Shark: Great Hammerheads and Gray Reef Sharks
  • When to Go: January to March for Great Hammerheads; June and July for Gray Reef Sharks

Shark Diving with Cow Sharks

9. 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 the pre-historic-looking cow sharks (a.k.a. seven-gill sharks). The chances of seeing this rarely-seen shark are high in the shallow kelp forest. In fact, up to 18 seven gills 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 despite the cooler waters, 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

Shark Diving with Mako Sharks

10. Open Water – San Diego, California, USA

Southern California is one of the best spots in the world to catch a glimpse of lightning-fast shortfin mako sharks. These sharks are open-ocean hunters and follow their prey to the San Diego coast from June to November. They are often spotted alongside sleek blue sharks, so divers can go diving without a cage with both of these beautiful pelagic predators simultaneously.

  • Dive Type: Kelp Forest
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Shortfin Mako Shark & Sleek Blue Shark
  • When to Go: June to November

Tassled Wobbegong is definitely one of the funniest fish names in the ocean.

11. Osprey Reef – North Queensland, Australia

This world-renowned reef is globally recognized. One of the best shark spots on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is Osprey Reef, where you can spot gray reef sharks, silvertips, wobbegongs (also known as carpet sharks), and so much more. Liveaboards are a great way to make the most of your time in this spectacularly busy reef ecosystem. Prime season is any time from June to August.

  • Dive Type: Coral Reef
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Gray Reef Sharks, Silvertips, & Wobbegongs
  • When to Go: June to August

Lesley with Lemon sharks.

12. Lemon Drops – Jupiter, Florida, USA

Jupiter has become world-famous for the annual migration of lemon sharks during the winter months. The yellow-tinged sharks congregate around wrecks and deeper ledges from Jupiter to Palm Beach. Every year from December to late March, these lemon sharks, which can grow to over 13 feet (4 m), follow the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream. Year-round shark encounters, including Bull Sharks, makes Jupiter a top pick for exciting encounters!

  • Dive Type: Wrecks / Deep Ledges
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Lemon Sharks
  • When to Go: December to late March

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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