How many species of shark have you heard of? 5 or 10 species or maybe more? Whether you’re new to shark diving or a seasoned pelagic adventurer, be prepared to be blown away by what comes next.

Fact: There are more than 500 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 diving with them. This is why many of us plan vacations and dives around viewing these magnificent animals. If this sounds like you, then be sure to add these 16 amazing shark diving sites to your must-dive list for the best shark encounters in the world.

Table of Contents

A large school of hammerhead sharks in Cocos Island, Costa Rica, a scuba destination with huge appeal for sharks and diving

1. Bajo Alcyone – Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Far removed from the Costa Rican mainland, Cocos Island consistently ranks as 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 25m (82ft) 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 then 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 or December to May for the best water conditions.

An elegant thresher shark silhouetted against the ocean surface in Monad Shoal, Malapascua, a top place to see this species

2. Monad Shoal – Malapascua, Philippines

With over 7,500 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 30m (100ft), 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 Filipino 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.

A hammerhead shark faces the camera in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, one of the top scuba diving destinations for sharks

3. Gordon Rocks – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are one of three destinations that make up the legendary Hammerhead 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 scuba 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! You can get fairly close to the sharks, but this dive site is only recommended if you have experience with diving in currents.

  • Dive Type: Drift
  • Recommended Level: Intermediate to Advanced – drift diving experience is essential
  • Featured Sharks: Scalloped, great, and smooth hammerhead
  • When to Go: June to November

Two large tiger sharks cruise above the sandy seabed in Tiger Beach which has some of the best shark diving in the Bahamas

4. Tiger Beach – Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

Many divers consider the Bahamas to be the world’s best shark diving destination. Indeed, 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 almost guaranteed encounters with tiger sharks. Several of these fierce sharks appear every day, and divers wait in groups on the sandy bottom while 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

caribbean reef sharks swimming on a protected coral reef in Cuba

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, you can swim alongside up to 30 silkies and Caribbean reef sharks in just one dive! After years of protection (which is 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 Sharks: Caribbean reef shark and silky shark
  • When to Go: December to April

A gray reef shark swims above a coral reef at Blue Corner in Palau which is one of the world's best shark diving destinations

6. Blue Corner – Ngemelis Island, Palau

Palau created the first shark sanctuary in 2009, and it is deservedly among the world’s best scuba diving destinations. The jewel in this island nation’s crown is Blue Corner, especially for shark aficionados. Indeed, divers say they’ve never seen so many sharks on a single dive. Look out for huge gatherings of resident gray reef sharks, as well as blacktip, silvertip, nurse, and leopard sharks. While the nutrient-rich currents make for great shark diving action, they can be strong and unpredictable, so drift diving experience is essential.

  • Dive Type: Drift
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Gray reef shark
  • When to Go: October to May

Three large bull sharks swimming in a group at Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, one of the best places to see megafauna

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 two decades. On an average day, about 50 sharks show up. Bull sharks are the main attraction, but you’ll also see nurse, lemon, whitetip, blacktip, silvertip, gray, and maybe even tiger sharks – the variety is part of the appeal of a Fiji shark dive!

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

A scuba diver swims alongside a giant whale shark at Gladden Spit in Belize, one of the top places for whale shark diving

8. Gladden Spit Whale Shark Dive – Placencia, Belize

If you’re looking for a slightly gentler shark, then 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 on your dive occurs during the seasonal plankton blooms, and particularly just before and after a full moon, when spawning activity is at its peak.

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

A giant school of gray reef sharks in Rangiroa in French Polynesia, where you can dive with up to 200 of this species at once

9. 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, you’ll begin your adventure in the mouth of the pass, finding shelter in an underwater cavern and waiting for gray reef sharks to appear. The dive then continues through the pass, pausing in several canyons along the way for shark observation. Strong currents attract upwards of 200 gray reef sharks, a species you can find here year-round, while you’ll find smaller numbers of great hammerheads at the beginning of the year.

  • Dive Type: Drift
  • Recommended Level: Advanced with drift diving experience
  • Featured Sharks: Gray reef shark and great hammerhead
  • When to Go: Gray reef sharks are present year-round, but visit January to March for the best chance of great hammerheads.

A cowshark (aka sevengill) swims in a kelp forest at False Bay, South Africa, one of the few places to see this species

10. Pyramid Rock – False Bay, South Africa

South Africa may be famous for its great white shark diving and sardine run, but it’s also one of only two places in the world where you can dive with the prehistoric-looking cow shark (a.k.a. sevengill shark). The chances of seeing this rarely seen shark are high in the shallow kelp forest. 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 dry suit to enjoy shark diving in South Africa, 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

A shortfin mako shark swimming beneath the surface of the ocean and one reason why shark diving in California is so popular

11. 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 you can go diving without a cage with both of these beautiful pelagic predators simultaneously.

  • Dive Type: Open ocean
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Sharks: Shortfin mako shark and blue shark
  • When to Go: June to November

A wobbegong shark (also known as a carpet shark) sitting on a coral reef at Osprey Reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

12. Osprey Reef – North Queensland, Australia

This world-renowned reef needs no introduction. 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 December.

  • Dive Type: Coral reef
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Sharks: Gray reef, silvertip, and wobbegong shark
  • When to Go: June to December

A freediver swims alongside a lemon shark in Jupiter, one of the best Florida shark diving destinations for this species

13. Lemon Drop – Jupiter, Florida, USA

Jupiter in Florida has become world famous for its 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 3m (10ft), follow the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream. Year-round shark encounters, including bull sharks, make Jupiter a top pick for exciting encounters!

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

A giant basking shark swimming with its mouth open in Scotland, which is one of the best places to see this species in the UK

14. Inner Hebrides – Scotland, UK

The untamed coastlines of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland are one of the best places to see basking sharks, which migrate through British and Irish waters during summer. Growing up to 12m (40ft) long, these majestic filter feeders are the world’s second-largest fish (after whale sharks). Basking sharks are also a protected species, so organized shark-watching trips to see them are restricted to snorkeling. However, scuba diving around these islands might bring you chance encounters with not only basking sharks, but also porbeagles, shortfin makos, and dogfish.

  • Dive Type: Reef
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Basking shark
  • When to Go: June to September, with peak sightings in July and August

A nurse shark during a night dive at Vaavu Atoll, one of the top attractions for shark divers on vacation in the Maldives
Photo credit: Tchami

15. Alimathà Jetty – Vaavu Atoll, Maldives

With almost 2,000 islands nestled in the Indian Ocean, there’s certainly no shortage of incredible dive sites (and shark-spotting opportunities) across the entire Maldivian archipelago. However, if it’s nurse sharks you’re looking for, then head to the Alimathà house reef, where you can be surrounded by over 100 of these placid creatures at once. It’s mesmerizing by day, but even more epic after dark, so make sure a shark diving night dive here is on your itinerary.

  • Dive Type: Reef / Night
  • Recommended Level: Beginner
  • Featured Shark: Nurse shark
  • When to Go: November to April

A large oceanic whitetip and its pilot fish at Elphinstone Reef, one of the best places to spot this rare pelagic species

16. Elphinstone Reef – Red Sea, Egypt

One of the Red Sea’s countless bucket-list adventures is undoubtedly diving with sharks at Elphinstone Reef. After flying along dazzling and dramatic walls that plunge over 100m (328ft) deep, you’ll hang around the northern or southern plateau, waiting for passing sharks to make an appearance. In particular, the southern plateau is one of the top places in the world to see rare oceanic whitetip sharks, as well as hammerhead, whitetip reef, gray reef, silvertip, and thresher sharks. Book a Red Sea liveaboard to get the most out of this sharktastic destination.

  • Dive Type: Wall
  • Recommended Level: Advanced
  • Featured Shark: Oceanic whitetip shark
  • When to Go: October to December

A scuba diver photographing a giant tiger shark while diving at Tiger Beach in Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas

Are You Ready for the Thrill of Shark Diving?

If you’re still wondering where is the best shark diving in the world, then head to PADI Travel® for carefully curated and once-in-a-lifetime shark diving vacations. What’s more, if you want to learn about (and help protect) our finned friends, there are plenty of ways to make a difference, such as booking conservation-led itineraries or taking the AWARE Shark Conservation specialty course during your trip.

Visit PADI Travel or contact one of our scuba diving travel experts by chat, email, or phone to schedule your trip today!

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