Tell me you are a thrill seeker without telling me that you are a thrill seeker. If swimming with sharks is on your bucket list, then it’s pretty apparent that you’re looking for a vacation that goes above and beyond your typical beach vacay.
In this article, we’ll talk about the logistics of swimming with sharks and list some of the best spots on the planet to engage in this surprisingly safe- albeit adrenaline-spiking activity.
What Exactly Does “Swimming With Sharks” Entail?
You might be picturing yourself freediving out on the open water with a pair of flippers, on a hope and a prayer, being circled by a school of sharks. The reality of swimming with sharks could not be any further from that image.
Swimming with sharks can be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, but some might find it to be somewhat nerve-wracking. Though it’s safer than you think, it’s important to note that this is still a dangerous activity that should only be done with experienced guides and a reputable company. In other words, don’t try this at home.
This activity is generally done in a controlled environment, such as in dive cages or underwater observatories. In these types of environments, it’s possible to observe sharks up close and personal with minimal risk to you.
In general, swimmers don’t need any special equipment to swim with sharks other than basic snorkeling or scuba diving gear. If you’re hiring a guide or charter company to help you through the experience of coming face-to-face with these aquatic animals, they’ll likely provide you with everything you need.
Experienced scuba divers may also be able to swim with sharks out in the open ocean, but we don’t recommend it for the average tourist. You’re better off doing your research, choosing a reputable guide, and paying close attention to all safety precautions to keep a respectful distance from these beautiful animals.
What Are the Top Vacation Destinations for Swimming With Sharks?
Buckle up: We have quite a list for you, and many of the locations are probably ones you would never have considered. However, once you take a closer look, you’ll see that these locales are perfect for swimming with sharks but also for kicking back and relaxing on your next vacay. Because why not both?
1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island is located about 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Roca and is a protected national park — which means it is unbelievably gorgeous. The island’s remote location and protected status have allowed marine life to flourish, including a wide variety of sharks, from whitetip reef sharks to tiger sharks.
You’ll also love the other creatures like manta rays. However, many consider the Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks to be the island’s biggest draw. The best time to visit is between June and December, when the water is clearest, and you’ll get the best visibility.
Our swimsuit recommendation:The Augusta One Piece has a keyhole back and a snap front. Undo some buttons when you’re lounging, and then button up to execute your Olympic-worthy dives. The low-leg cut and modern silhouette are simply stunning.
2. Aliwal Shoal, South Africa
Aliwal Shoal is a renowned dive destination located off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It is famous for its diverse marine life, including sharks. In particular, you can expect to see tiger sharks, bull sharks, and ragged-tooth sharks.
There are many lodges and resorts in the area that cater to scuba divers, offering various packages that include “stay and play” accommodation and diving packages of all types.
Our swimsuit recommendation: The Capri One Piece has a deep V for those deep dives. The twist and asymmetrical silhouette offer full coverage so that you can stay totally stylish without worrying about flashing the fish.
3. Isla Guadalupe, Mexico
Located about 240 km off the coast of Baja, California, in Mexico, Isla Guadalupe is a protected biosphere reserve. The waters are home to a large population of great white sharks, which makes it a popular destination for shark diving.
Apart from swimming with sharks, the island also has beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and a huge variety of wildlife, including sea lions, dolphins, and whales. There are several resorts and lodges on the island that cater to tourists, which makes this a fabulous place to go.
Our swimsuit recommendation: The Malibu One Piece is so gorgeous no one will even be looking at the sandy beaches! With UPF 50 and four-way stretch fabric that protects you from the sun, you can fully release your inner mermaid.
4. Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Swimming with sharks in Fiji is an incredible experience. One of the best spots in Fiji is Beqa Lagoon, located off the southern coast of Viti Levu. Go between May and October for the clearest water and the best experience. You’ll potentially be able to see several species of sharks during your diving experience, including bull sharks and reef sharks.
Fiji is a well-known vacation destination, so you know there will be plenty to do when you’re on dry land as well.
5. Gansbaai, South Africa
This is a fantastic spot for those interested in shark diving. It’s known for its abundance of great whites, and there are several reputable companies that operate in the area.
Apart from swimming with sharks, you will also find that Gansbaai is a beautiful coastal town with stunning beaches and natural scenery. Visitors can enjoy hiking, whale watching, and exploring the local culture and cuisine.
6. Palau’s Rock Islands, Micronesia
The Palua’s Rock Islands is a stunningly beautiful and unique vacation spot. The Republic of Palau is east of the Philippines and is technically considered an independent country in a Compact of Free Association with the United States.
The Rock Islands are a collection of over 200 limestone islands that are surrounded by crystal-clear waters and are the natural habitat for a ton of marine species, including a variety of sharks (like blacktips and gray reef sharks) and other animals like eels.
This is the place to go if you want an active vacation in a breathtakingly gorgeous place. From boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and hiking, there’s no shortage of activities. Palau also offers a unique cultural experience with its traditional villages, museums, and historical sites.
7. Hawaii, United States
Not looking to get too far out of your comfort zone? Stay in the States and still enjoy some amazing shark swimming opportunities. One of the best spots to go in Hawaii for swimming with sharks is on the North Shore of Oahu. There are several companies that offer opportunities to get up close and personal with Galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks, and tiger sharks.
Plus, we all know that Hawaii is on the bucket list for an upcoming vacation. Swim, eat, and meditate on the beach at sunrise … whatever your heart desires!
8. Tiger Beach, Bahamas
Tiger Beach, located off the coast of Grand Bahama Island, is widely considered to be one of the best places in the world for shark cage diving. Peep tiger sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and more.
The Bahamas is also a popular vacation destination overall, with so much to do and many resorts to choose from.
Our swimsuit recommendation:The Milos One Piece is an instant icon, thanks to the button snaps decorating the V-neck. Who doesn’t love a line of delicate buttons? It’s a popular feature on wedding dresses for a good reason. With removable cups, adjustable straps, and underband elastic, this suit is stylish and sporty.
9. La Digue Island, Seychelles
Seychelles is known for its gorgeous beaches, lush forests, unique wildlife, and of course, snorkeling, scuba, and shark diving opportunities. You’re most likely to have reef shark sightings here, but it’s almost guaranteed that you will see so much amazing marine life beyond the shark encounters.
10. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos are home to a variety of shark species, including hammerhead, Galapagos (obvi), and whitetip reef sharks. The waters around the Galapagos are known for their clarity and abundance of marine life, making for an unforgettable underwater experience. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with the friendly whale shark.
Factor in the unique flora and fauna of the island ecosystem (like the gentle giants that are the Galapagos tortoises) and the birdwatching, hiking, and luxury eco-lodges. You’re gonna want to stay here forever!
Our swimsuit recommendation:
As you can tell, the problem with finding the perfect destination to swim with sharks is not that you won’t be able to find a spot — or pick which swimsuit is your favorite. There are so many fantastic places (and resort wear options) that you may not be able to make up your mind! From Fiji to Seychelles to South Africa, open up your mind to the possibilities, and you will be pleasantly surprised!