Are you looking for a beach getaway that’s just as exciting as it is relaxing? If so, look no further than this list of the best places in the world to swim with sharks, with information on shark types and the optimal time to visit. The destinations on this list are already known for their beautiful beaches and vacation atmosphere, but they each are home to operations that provide tourist and beginner-friendly shark experiences. Whether you want to see Hammerheads or Grey Nurses, travel to a different hemisphere or stay relatively local, one of these 8 locations offers the up close and personal shark excursion you can cross off your bucket list!

Swimming With Sharks: The Ultimate Travel Guide

1. Bahamas

The Bahamas is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. This tropical island destination offers a selection of shark experiences, from beginners who are reluctant to dive deep to experienced scuba adventurers. You can find a diverse shark population all within the same geographical region, with Tiger sharks at Tiger Beach in Nassau (September-March), Oceanic Whitetip sharks at Cat Island (March-June), Hammerheads at Bimini (February), and Caribbean Reefs at Paradise Island (year-round).

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2. Tahiti

Shark excursions are one of the most popular tourist activities on the tropical island of Bora Bora. Year-round feeding excursions offer an intimate interaction with Black Tip and Lemon sharks, suitable for the interested beginner (April). A short distance away is Rangiroa, the Tahitian atoll world-renowned for its high visibility and scuba opportunities. These thrill-seekers can get even closer to the animals here, with Hammerhead, Silvertip, and Gray shark populations (September-October).

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3. Isla Guadalupe, Mexico

The island of Guadalupe in the Pacific is one of the best places if you want guaranteed thrill. The excursions offered here are often several days long and can almost guarantee sightings. Most dives here are done in cages. The waters just off the coast of Baja are ideal for close encounters with Great Whites (July-November). They offer clear waters, beautiful weather, and a trip designed for those who vacation with a purpose.

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4. Cancun, Mexico

Cancun is conveniently located near Isla Mujeres, a favorite haunt of the enormous Whale shark. These are the largest type of sharks, and are also exceedingly gentle. You can jump right in and get to know these vegetarians. Every year from May to September there are plenty of tours to take visitors to these warm waters for an intimate and personal excursion.

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5. Galapagos, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands offer advanced opportunities to dive with sharks, if you are willing to pass a skill test and travel to Wolf Point, where there is an abundance of Hammerheads, Galapagos, and Whale sharks. However, for those wishing to stick closer to the shore there is also the option to snorkel and get a great view of Reef sharks. The hot and tropical rainy season from December to June is the best time to take advantage and explore the wildlife here.

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6. Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Cocos Island is another area for advanced divers, requiring certification and another voyage, as it is only accessible by boat. However, this trip is worth the trouble, as it presents a dive with a diverse wildlife population, including Hammerhead, Whitetip, and Whale sharks. Like The Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica experiences a wet tropical season from June to December that offers the best experience for those who want to take full advantage of the opportunities for thrill in this natural paradise.

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7. Fish Rock Cave, Australia

This excursion is one of the most exciting out there, even for the most experienced of divers. It’s a secluded cave located on Australia’s east coast that boasts dramatic schools of Gray Nurse sharks all year round, though sightings are best on nights with a full or close-to-full moon. This dive site is another that is well worth the trip, however divers should take care to be prepared for the strong current around the cave.

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8. Gansbaai, South Africa

This site is famous for its gear-free cage excursions and encounters with Great Whites. Known as the Great White capital of the world, this final site on the list should be on any shark or thrill enthusiast’s bucket list. This site is also special because the shark-dive experience is available year-round. Anyone can grab a wetsuit and get to know one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures.

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This article was written by Noelle LaDue.

Image by Jake Gaviola.