6 of the best shark diving experiences for new divers

by   Profile Kathryn   When 1st February 2024
Nurse Shark
Nurse Shark
Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark
Whale Shark
Whale Shark
Great White Shark
Great White Shark

For many scuba divers, going diving with sharks is a bucket-list experience and it can easily turn into a lifelong passion. There are shark dives worldwide for experienced divers, but where do you start if you’re a new diver who loves sharks? You can go snorkeling with sharks at various places, but there are also some great shark dives out there for new divers to get their teeth into. Read on for our pick of the best.

  • Tiger Beach, the Bahamas.

  • Tiger sharks are rewarding sharks to dive with; they often approach divers closely and offer great photographic opportunities.  If you want to go diving with tiger sharks in crystal-clear blue waters, Tiger Beach is the dive site for you.

    The dive area depth varies from 6 to 30 meters, though most of the diving is conducted at around 6 meters, making this site a great option for new divers.

    As well as having numerous tiger sharks, Tiger Beach also hosts lemon sharks, nurse sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks.

    The diving itself is easy; you just kneel on the sand and watching the passing sharks. Tiger Beach is only accessible by boat, and it is predominantly a liveaboard destination, but there are some land-based operators.

    Experience needed: Suitable for all experience levels, including snorkelers.

    When to go: The tiger sharks are present all year, though October to January is peak tiger shark season. July to August has the least tiger sharks.

  • Alimatha House Reef, the Maldives.

  • Nurse sharks are a great dive choice for less confident shark divers; they are so laid back and very relaxing to dive with. They are found in large numbers at the Maldives, especially at Alimatha House Reef in Vaavu Atoll.

    There is an abundance of nurse sharks at this famous dive spot, and they congregate around Alimatha Jetty every evening, along with numerous stingrays. Years ago, food waste was dumped in the area and the sharks became used to foraging there for food scraps. They still associate this dive area with food and are completely comfortable with divers in the water.

    You can see up to 100 sharks at Alimatha and night diving with them is an experience not to be missed.

    If you haven’t been night diving before, fear not. This is a great introduction to the wonders of diving by the light of your torch. The diving is conducted at 5 to 18 meters deep and you spend your dive watching sharks and stingrays cruising by as they search for food.

    Experience needed: Open Water certification. It you’re unsure about night diving but want to do this dive, boost your confidence with a night diving course before you go.

    When to go: December to April is peak dive season at Vaavu Atoll, offering great visibility and dry, sunny weather. The nurse sharks are present all year.

  • Jardines de la Reina, Cuba.

  • Jardines de la Reina is relatively off the radar for shark diving despite hosting dozens of shark species. It is one of the top places for shark encounters in the Caribbean, offering crowd-free diving, protected waters, and numerous sharks.

    The waters of Jardines de la Reina have been protected since 1996 and have thriving marine ecosystems. As well as plenty of sharks, there are coral reefs teeming with life.

    This dive destination’s sharky highlights include lemon, nurse, bull, silky, blacktip reef, Caribbean reef sharks, and whale sharks. Shark sightings are pretty much guaranteed year-round, and you can even go snorkeling with crocodiles during your stay. The number of divers allowed to visit each year is strictly limited, meaning you can enjoy diving there without many other people around.

    Experience needed: Open Water certification.

    When to go: Sharks are present year-round at Jardines de la Reina.

  • Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.

  • Beqa Lagoon offers one of the top shark dives in the world, in a protected marine reserve dedicated to shark conservation and research. It is an amazing shark dive located at Viti Levu in Fiji and the income generated from this shark tourism is given to local villagers who choose not to fish in the marine reserve.

    During this special dive, you can encounter numerous bull sharks, plus whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, lemon sharks, tawny nurse sharks and, if you’re lucky, a tiger shark.

    Depending on which operator you dive with, the shark dive starts at 18 or 30 meters. There, you will sit behind a reef wall and watch bull sharks congregating at a feeding area. After spending time with the bull sharks, you can ascend to different depths to encounter other shark species. Ending your dive with a safety stop at a shallow coral reef, and surrounded by reef sharks, is nothing short of perfection.

    Experience needed: Open Water certification.

    When to go: Sharks are present year-round, but bull shark sightings drop during their mating season (November to February). Peak bull shark season is from August to September.

  • South Ari Atoll, Maldives.

  • Whale sharks are one of the easiest sharks to dive with and are found at various great dive destinations worldwide. The Maldives is one of the most idyllic and sought-after places to swim with these spotty giants.

    The warm tropical waters of the Maldives host numerous whale sharks year-round and they move to different atolls throughout the year. As well as whale sharks, the Maldives offer world-class coral reef diving and the chance to swim with manta rays.

    So far, 688 individual whale sharks have been identified in the Maldives by the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme.

    South Ari Atoll is one of the best places to see whale sharks in the Maldives and whale shark sightings are common there all year.

    Experience needed: Suitable for all experience levels, including snorkelers.

    When to go: Whale sharks are present all year. Visit from December to April for calm seas and great dive conditions.

  • Neptune Islands, South Australia.

  • It wouldn’t be a shark diving article if we didn’t include great white sharks. Being in the water with these iconic sharks is extraordinary and you don’t need to be a certified diver to jump in.

    Most destinations that offer cage diving with white sharks don’t require a dive certification; you simply float at the surface and watch the sharks using a mask and snorkel or using a dive hookah.

    If you want to dive at depth with great white sharks, the Neptune Islands are a great choice.

    There, you can cage dive at around 20 meters deep and watch the sharks moving in their natural environment, surrounded by rocky outcrops and plenty of fish life. If offers a completely different perspective to surface cage diving.

    Experience needed: Open Water certification if you want to cage dive at depth. Prior dive experience is not needed for surface cage diving.

    When to go: Great white sharks are present year-round at the Neptune Islands.

    With that selection of destinations, you are ready for your first shark diving adventure! If you are excited but also nervous about getting in the water with sharks, that’s totally understandable and very common. Joining a Shark Ecology diver course is a great way to get over your fears before your vacation, and you can complete it entirely online. In this short dive course, you will learn how to interpret shark behaviors and develop the skills to dive safely with sharks, so you can focus on enjoying your dives and leave your worries behind.

    Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

    Written by
    Profile Kathryn
    When 1st February 2024
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