Updated: Jul 20
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to come face-to-face with one of the ocean's most notorious predators? Scary? Awe-inspiring? Or maybe you'd rather not think about it!!
Far from being the fearsome beasts portrayed in sensational movies and outdated documentaries, the majority of sharks avoid human contact, and most divers count themselves lucky if they get close enough to a shark for a proper sighting.
However, there are some destinations where sharks live in such high numbers that spotting them underwater is almost guaranteed. As such, shark-diving experiences are common-place, and a popular draw for divers keen for a personal shark encounter and some great photo opportunities.
Here are some of the world's best shark encounters:
The world's best place to cage dive with great white sharks, Guadalupe Island has become a mecca for thrill-seekers and photographers seeking the ultimate sharky encounter. The island is only accessible via liveaboard between August and November when the great whites congregate to feed and mate. Diving is limited to cages and the surface supply 'hooka pipe' air system means that non-divers can also take part in this thrilling experience.
Tiger Beach, Bahamas
As the name suggests, Tiger Beach Bahamas is home to some of the world's friendliest tiger sharks. The resident population here is fed daily by dive guides and so have learned to interact with divers and underwater photographers allowing for some awesome snaps. Located north of West End on Grand Bahama, visitors can use a local day-trip operator or dive from one of the liveaboards that access the area.
Fakarava, French Polynesia
The huge amount of life living on the reefs of this remote UNESCO Reserve can be overwhelming at first, but what really blows your mind is the huge variety and abundance of sharks. Shark's Hole is home to hundreds of lemon sharks, whitecaps, and hammerheads, while the famous 'wall of sharks' gathers during the grouper spawning and offers up silky, lemon, silvertip, hammerhead, and tiger sharks.
For a more relaxing experience, why not try snorkeling with whale sharks in Oslob. These gentle giants may be the largest fish in the ocean, but all they're interested in eating is plankton and tiny fish. It's generally not permitted to scuba dive where large numbers of whale sharks are known to gather, however, they spend their time so close to the surface that swimming and snorkeling with them are just as rewarding.
Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Aside from the stunning reefs and plethora of marine life, Beqa Lagoon also boasts one of the shakiest experiences in the world. Over the last 10 years, this site has become renowned for its population of bull sharks, nurse and lemon sharks, white-tip and black-tip reef sharks, silvertip, grey, and sometimes tiger sharks. As many as 50 animals can show up on a single dive - quite an experience!
This small island on the northern tip of Sebu is famous for one thing only; the thresher sharks of Monad Shoal. Every morning these fascinating deepwater sharks visit shallow cleaning stations on the top of the shoal. Normally an elusive species, Malapascua is the best place in the world to get up close and personal with these whip-tailed beauties.
Sharks abound in Galapagos, but the cherry on the cake is a dive at Gordon Rocks where huge schools of hammerheads fin lazily in the current, making this one of the top destinations to dive with hammerheads. Shark numbers are so vast that they block the light from the surface, but the best way to experience them is to hunker behind a rock, shelter from the current, and enjoy the awesome show.
Looking for another incredible animal encounter? Read about the Pacific gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico here.
Bluewater Photo has some fantastic deals on DSLR packages for those looking to upgrade their photo equipment.
Check out these awesome shark underwater photo tutorials from the Underwater Photography Guide.