Best Places to Swim with Sharks
Learning to love a misunderstood species
As a thrill-seeker, swimming with sharks likely tops your bucket list, tenfold. The mystery of sharks, the perceived danger, the novelty, it makes you feel excited and scared, and look down-right crazy to those around you!
Swimming with a shark outside of a highly controlled environment is not recommended, however, if under the right circumstances it can be an amazing experience. There is so much to learn and appreciate, but only when you take the leap with a responsible operator that is trained in this area, and/or seeking out the species known to be less aggressive or aren’t apex predators.
Sadly, there is a subset of irresponsible tour operators that run shark diving trips that are disruptive to the sharks and the environment around them. That’s why we’re proud to work with such amazing tour operators and organizations who have all taken the KEEPitWILD pledge, and support initiatives to keep wildlife wild.
There are many places around the world that are flourishing shark habitats and make for some of the best places to swim with sharks.
Swimming with sharks in the Maldives is relatively safe. You aren’t likely to run into Great White Sharks in this area, but if you find yourself snorkeling, you may come face-to-face with a Blacktip Reef Shark, which has not been known to be harmful to humans or a Whale Shark which is known as a gentle giant. The Maldives do not have a history of shark attacks, so guided tours are not necessary, but we recommend researching some snorkeling etiquette so you don’t disturb coral and other sea life.
This Maldives on a Shoestring tour with Encounters Travel is a fantastic way to explore different parts of the Maldives, with plenty of opportunities to take a dip among your shark friends.
Northeast of Australia, Fiji is home to diverse groups of sharks including the Bull Shark, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Silvertip Sharks, Silvertip Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Sicklefin Lemon Sharks, Whitetip Reef Sharks, and occasionally the Tiger Shark. While the majority of sharks in this area do not prey on humans, there have been attacks, so we always recommend traveling with a tour operator who puts your safety first. We recommend checking out Fiji Shark Dive on your travels, as they are primarily an ecotourism company and largely focus on marine conservation. You will need your dive certification, and at least 5 deep dives (30m / 100ft or more) to participate.
If you’re looking for a different experience that focuses more on conservation or do not have your PADI certification, check out our partners Frontier and GVI who offer marine conservation courses.
Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun is well known as one of the best places to swim with sharks. It’s also a major tourist destination, which can make it difficult to separate the responsible operators from the rest. Instead, head to Isla Holbox, where swimming with whale sharks is regulated. They allow only certain numbers at a time to swim and take great care in not disrupting these enormous mammals.
If you’ll be traveling to the Pacific Coast, make sure to check out our friends RED Travel Mexico and their day tour in La Paz.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island National Park is located off the coast of Costa Rica and is known for its rare and diverse abundance of marine life. Voted one of CNN’s best places to dive with sharks, including hammerhead sharks, this is one of few places in the world where you can actually join working scientists to assist in understanding the threats to sharks in Costa Rica, as well as collect valuable data to determine the best ways to save them. Check out this exciting program with Turtle Island Restoration Network to learn more!
Gansbaai, South Africa
Gansbaai draws thousands of visitors each year with the desire to see Great White Sharks. Its unique location and gorgeous scenery make it a wonderful tourist destination, but it is also a shark mecca! There are numerous companies to choose from when you’re looking at shark dives and boat trips, but here, you should really pay attention to who you support. Great White Sharks are a protected species, and choosing a company that puts that first is wise. Our partners International Marine Volunteers have a fantastic program that you can volunteer at which supports the conservation of sharks and other marine life. Not only will you be making a difference, but you’ll have the opportunity for responsible cage dives!