Where to Snorkel with Sharks

Six places around the world where sharks and snorkelers come together safely


Forget those old cliches about “shark-infested waters.” The reality is that these often-misunderstood creatures pose very little danger to humans, and are far more likely to avoid the splashing chaos of swimmers and divers. But there are certain places around the world where sharks can be found with predictable regularity, allowing snorkelers with a sense of adventure a chance at a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

New Providence, Bahamas

From Thunderball to Into the Blue, a vast majority of the underwater shark encounters that show up on the big screen were filmed in the waters near Stuart Cove’s dive center in the Bahamas. Decades of feeding have conditioned the area’s resident population of gray reef sharks to the presence of humans, and they hang around even when they aren’t getting a handout of fish bits. Snorkelers can get in on the action with trips to several of the area’s shallow reefs, where the sharks will cruise by, but otherwise ignore the fin-wearing interlopers. There’s usually a dive guide with a camera on hand to grab a shark-and- snorkeler shot for anyone looking for a great social media post. Visit: https://stuartcove.com/

Stuart Cove Sharks

Underwater sites with clear and calm waters in the Bahamas await divers and snorkelers on a Stuart Cove’s adventure. Guided adventures include shark sightings. Photo: Salisbury University Geography Students/Flickr

Bora Bora, Islands of Tahiti

The huge sand-bottom lagoon that surrounds the island of Bora Bora is filled with all manner of fish life, including a group of resident lemon sharks and rays. Encounters sometimes begin right from resort beaches or near over- water bungalows, but more guaranteed are the boat trips provided by several tour companies, which ferry snorkelers to areas within the lagoon where the sharks and rays are known to gather. Snorkelers who prefer a more controlled environment should visit the island’s Lagoonarium. This natural enclosure is located near the island’s eastern shore, and it is home to a variety of sharks, rays, tropical fish, and sea turtles. More adventurous swimmers can also book trips to outer reefs where dolphins and manta rays may join the mix. Visit: http://lagoonarium.e-monsite.com/

Bora Bora Snorkeling with Sharks

Shark and ray feeding trips are available from resorts for visiting snorkelers in Bora Bora. The sandy flat outside the lagoon is populated with hungry sharks and stingrays. Photo: Michael Rubenstein/Flickr

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez. All manner of sharks and large marine mammals pass by this point on their way to and from seasonal hunting and breeding grounds. The Pelagic Safari takes small groups of snorkelers on a half-day or all-day speedboat cruise into the open waters of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. When a likely site is located, participants go overboard with snorkel gear and drift with the waves as the boat follows to provide support. Depending on the season, snorkelers may come face-to-face with anything from humpbacks and gray whales to blue and mako sharks, billfish, and massive schools of Mobula rays. Visit: https://pelagicsafari.com/

cabo sharks

Modula rays invade the waters off Southern Baja and the Sea of Cortez on a seasonal basis. Plan a visit May through July or November to January. Photo: Pelagic Safari

Oahu, Hawaii

There are some sharks that are best seen from behind bars, and that’s exactly what snorkelers can do at Hawaii Shark Encounters. These adventures take place three miles off the north shore of Oahu. After reaching deep water, the tour operator stops the boat and deploys shark cages that float on the surface. Snorkelers enter these cages, and chum with fish deployed to lure oceanic predators. The species that show up most often are Galapagos, sandbar, and tiger sharks, but there’s also a chance of a visit from blue sharks and hammerheads. To make the encounters more thrilling, the cages are fitted not only with bars, but also Plexiglas windows that provide unimpeded viewing. Visit: https://hawaiisharkencounters.com/

Oahu Hawaii Shark Diving

Both thrilling and educational, shark cage adventure tours on the north shore of Oahu will dispel many shark myths and create awareness for their protection. Photo: ptpablo/Flickr

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

The Phi Phi Islands are the stuff of postcards and screen savers. Rising like giant limestone haystacks from emerald waters, these unique formations are surrounded by coral reefs and riddled with secret coves fronting white sand beaches. In recent years, one of the fastest-trending adventures that visitors to the islands can experience is the chance to swim with black-tip reef sharks. Several tour companies ferry snorkelers to shallow reefs, where these non-threatening sharks forage among the formations in search of hidden morsels. Morning is said to be the best time to sign up for these tours, as this is not only when the sharks are most active, but also the times when there are fewer swimmers in the water. After the swim, there’s usually a chance to visit mysterious sea caves and have lunch on a deserted beach. Visit: https://www.getyourguide.com/discovery/phi-phi-islands-l9477/snorkeling-tc57/?utm_force=0

Phi Phi Islands Snorkeling

From Phuket, visitors can take boat tours to the amazing Phi Phi Islands. Some may stop at Monkey Beach, while others head out to reefs. Photo: Corey Hamilton/Flickr

Bimini, Bahamas

The waters of the Gulf Stream flow close to the Bahamian island of Bimini, bringing game fish and sharks in from the deep blue. This gives snorkelers a rare chance to meet oceanic marine life in shallow water, including reef sharks and hammerheads. The starting point for these thrilling encounters is Bimini Undersea,  which is located within the fisherman’s village at Resorts World Bimini. Participants board speedboats for a three-mile trip to a formation known as Triangle Rocks. There, in depths of 25 feet or less, the reefs attract passing sharks, which are clearly visible in the clear water. This half-day trip is considered safe and appropriate for all ages, as the sharks gather in anticipation of a free meal, but are not fed while snorkelers are in the water. Visit: https://biminiundersea.net/

Bimini Bahamas Dive With Sharks

Up-close views of reef sharks can be experienced in special programs like The Sharks Adventure at a beautiful reef, south of Bimini. Photo: sassamafracken/Flickr