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The world’s oceans are the prime habitat for sharks. They swim and populate these vast bodies of water to feed, forage, mate and thrive. But with increasing coastal development, habitat destruction and fishing pressure, worldwide shark population has significantly and exponentially declined. For us scuba divers, a good indicator for this dwindling resource is that we use to see sharks when we go diving, and now, it is a matter of luck or coincidence. But this does not mean that we can no longer see these majestic apex predators. There are still lots of areas that has a healthy shark population where these sites are now protected by law to allow the natural flourishing of sharks to occur.
However, these sites are often situated in far-flung areas and the only way to get there and go diving is by signing up with a liveaboard trip.
Table of Contents
The Best Liveaboard Trips to Dive with Sharks: An Overview
Year of Commission: 1985 (renovated 2008) Capacity: 18 guests Area of Operation: Costa Rica Dive Destination: Cocos Island Sharks to be encountered: Hammerhead sharks, Whitetip reef sharks, Blacktip reefs harks, Tiger sharks, Thresher sharks, Silky sharks and Prickly sharks
Argo is one of the five liveaboard vessels that sails
to Cocos island – an offshore destination 550 kilometers (340 miles) west of
mainland Costa Rica. This steel hulled luxury liveaboard can accommodate up to
18 guests where these lucky divers will embark on a 10-day journey and explore
the big boys of the deep – the sharks. Hammerhead sharks has become the
signature species of Cocos island where you can see them in every dive site
surrounding Cocos island. Most of your hammerhead shark interaction involves
observing the passing by of their massive school that numbers to a hundred,
sometimes reaching to a thousand individuals per sighting. Some of the dive
sites in Cocos islands features hammerhead shark cleaning station where these
apex predators comes close to the reef for a quick clean by barberfish.
What’s best with Argo is that it has an onboard
Deepsee Submersible which can accommodate a pilot and 2 very lucky guest to go
deep diving up to 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) deep and explore the abyssal depths
to see deep-sea species like the Prickly sharks.
Year of Commission: 2004 (renovated 2014) Capacity: 16 guests Area of Operation: Ecuador Dive Destination: Galapagos Island Sharks to be encountered: Hammerhead sharks and Galapagos sharks
Departing from San Cristobal in Ecuador, the 12
English and Spanish speaking crew will welcome a maximum of 16 guests onboard
the Galapagos Master. This 32 -meter (105 feet) long liveaboard vessel will
head out on a 7 or 10 day journey to one of Charles Darwin’s study sites on his
Theory of Natural Selection – the Galapagos Island, which is considered as one
of the best sites in the world for pelagic diving. Once onboard, you can
proceed to your assigned air-conditioned and spacious cabin that has a twin
sharing feature and a private bathroom. It has an indoor lounge and dining area
at the middle deck that serves delicious buffet meals prepared by their onboard
chefs. The upper level has a sundeck and a cocktail bar that gives you a nice
view of the surrounding ocean.
Once you arrive in Galapagos island, most probably you
will be spending time in the dive deck. This ultra-spacious part of the vessel
houses your diving equipment where you can easily set-up your gear in
preparation for your underwater adventures. You will be performing 4 dives per
day and shark interaction is guaranteed in every dive where you can see
patrolling hammerhead sharks and Galapagos sharks. You will use tender boats to
proceed to the Galapagos Islands’ several dive sites (like Darwin’s Arch and
Wolf) where your group is always accompanied by 2 divemasters.
Year of Commission: 2000 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 25 guests Area of Operation: Mexico Dive Destination: Guadalupe and Socorro Islands Sharks to be encountered: Hammerhead sharks, Silky sharks, Whitetip reef sharks, whale sharks and Great white sharks
Designed to operate in the waters of Guadalupe and
Socorro islands of Mexico, the Nautilus Explorer can take 25 divers for a
memorable experience – diving with sharks. From the port of call enroute to
your diving destination, you can relax in one of the 13 airconditioned cabins
where your choices include the Triple Stateroom, the Double Stateroom, the
Single Stateroom and the Superior Suites. This vessel has two upper-floor
sun-decks and a hot-tub deck where you can dip and relax while enjoying your
favorite wine or beer. Located just infront of the dive deck is the main salon
fitted with comfortable couches, PC computers and a 42-inch television. When it
comes to food, everything is prepared fresh including their bread and pastries
which are all baked on board.
When you arrive at Socorro island, your shark
interaction will usually involve observing hammerheads sharks, silky sharks,
whitetip reef sharks and whale sharks. But the highlight of this trip is when
you arrive at Guadalupe island where the 5-ton hydraulic crane will start to
work while lowering a steel cage for you to do a once in a lifetime and
memorable experience – cage diving with great white sharks.
Year of Commission: 2001 (renovated 2017) Capacity: 30 guests Area of Operation: Bahamas Dive Destination: Exuma, Tiger Beach Sharks to be encountered: Tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, bull sharks and blacktip reef sharks
With a maximum passenger capacity of 30 guests taken
cared by professional staff that has been rated #1 by the readers of Scuba
Diving magazine, Aqua Cat is the preferred liveaboard when you go diving in the
Bahamas. Your onboard accommodation includes a choice of 11 cabins that either
has a king, twin or fold down bed.
Aside from the onboard luxury Aqua Cat offers, what
really stands out with this liveaboard is their featured destination. On top of
exploring magnificent vertical ledge, unique underwater topography like the
blue hole all filled with a diversity of marine life, Aqua Cat will take you to
dive sites that are known for diving with hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, bull
sharks and blacktip reef sharks. One of the top sites Aqua Cat visits is Tiger
Beach. Located an hour by boat from the west coast of Grand Bahama, Tiger Beach
is named after an apex predator where Tiger sharks are known to thrive. If it’s
your lucky day, you may see up to 12 tiger sharks in just a single dive.
Year of Commission: 1989 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 16 guests Area of Operation: Philippines Dive Destination: Tubbataha reef, Coron, Malapascua Island, Bohol and Apo Reef Sharks to be encountered: Thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks and whalesharks
Since the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of
over 7,100 islands, liveaboards in the country have established a dive safari
route with multiple stops in every major tourist destination allowing you to
choose where to get onboard or disembark and this is where the Atlantis Azores
is known for. They accommodate 16 guests and take them to some of the country’s
top diving destination that are known for sharks like whitetip and blacktip
reef sharks of Tubbataha Reef, the hammerhead sharks of Cabilao Island in Bohol
and the Thresher sharks of Monad Shoal in Malapascua, Cebu.
Compared to other liveaboards in the country, Atlantis
Azores is known for catering to small dive groups. In turn, it had created more
space for guests and divers to move around the vessel and prepare their
equipment for a great underwater adventure.
Capacity: Over 100 guests Area of Operation: Fiji Dive Destination: Yasawa Islands Sharks to be encountered: Tiger sharks and bull sharks
Unlike the mid-sized vessels liveaboards are known
for, the Reef Endeavor is large, has 62 cabins and can accommodate over 100
guests. The vibe onboard is similar to a cruise ship where it has facilities
and services like a swimming pool, a sun deck, a spa, gym, bars, lounges and
On top of this, it has an onboard dive shop that
offers dive packages taking you to dive sites that are known for diving with
tiger sharks and bull sharks. In between dives, you can go to a nearby
excursion or enjoy your favorite aquasport like snorkeling and kayaking.
Year of Commission: 1995 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 17 guests Area of Operation: Cuba Dive Destination: Jardines de la Reina Sharks to be encountered: Silky sharks
Cuba has a protected mangrove forest that is
surrounded by coral reefs on the perimeter. This area, known as the Jardines de
la Reina, is the prime spot for scuba diving in Cuba where it is known for
shark interaction and snorkeling with crocodiles. But diving in Jardines de la
Reina is only possible with liveaboards as it is located 80 kilometers (50
miles) west of Jucaro in Mainland Cuba and this is where Avalon I is known for.
This oak interior-inspired luxury vessel has 8 cabins
with amenities that will make your stay on board and diving experience easy and
enjoyable. It has a spacious layout such as the big dive deck where it has
ample space for gear storage, camera table and rinse bins for electronic and
Year of Commission: 2010 (renovated 2017) Capacity: 14 guests Area of Operation: Indonesia Dive Destination: Raja Ampat and Flores Island Sharks to be encountered: Blacktip reef sharks and grey reef sharks
If you want to experience a liveaboard journey that
will visit several sites, then Indonesia is the place to be courtesy from its
17,000 surrounding islands. These sites houses world-class dive sites that
mostly features amazing shark interaction like the blacktip reef sharks of Raja
Ampat and grey reef sharks of Komodo island.
Of the 50 liveaboards operating the waters of
Indonesia, the Ilike is one of the most popular vessels in Indonesia. It is
classified as a traditional Phinisi vessel that was built in a famous fishing
village in South Sulawesi. This vessel is preferred by experienced divers since
most of its trips will embark on a 10-day journey to remote Indonesian islands
that are known for strong currents and healthy shark population.
Year of Commission: 2014 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 40 guests Area of Operation: Maldives Dive Destination: Male and Ari Atoll Sharks to be encountered: Tiger sharks, whale sharks, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks
Obviously, Maldives is the only country in the world
that has the word “dive” in its name. But for sure, its 26 natural atolls
teeming with marine life will justify its claim as one of the world’s best
diving destinations. And to maximize this Indian Ocean adventure, liveaboards
are highly preferred in order for you to visit most of its stunning sites, especially
if you are into diving with sharks.
Aside from being recognized as a top tourist
destination, Maldives is also a port of call for world renowned liveaboard
vessels, such as the Scubaspa Yang which is a nominee in the World Luxury Spa
Awards and was awarded as the Leading Liveaboard from 2016 to 2018 and the only
PADI 5 Star Maldivian vessel. All of its guests greatly appreciates its “Scuba
and Spa package” where after your tiger shark diving adventures in Male and Ari
Atoll, you will indulge in sumptuous meals or treat yourself with a relaxing
massage up to 8 sessions during the entire voyage.
Year of Commission: 2003 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 20 guests Area of Operation: Red Sea Dive Destination: Ras Mohamed National Park, Tiran Straits and Elphinstone, Egypt Sharks to be encountered: Oceanic whitetip sharks, thresher sharks and whale sharks
Aside from sheer drops such as coral walls and
world-renowned shipwrecks like the SS Thistlegorm, divers flock the waters of
the Red Sea to observe and interact with apex predators of the marine
environment – sharks. Most of this shark interaction are offered by liveaboards
such as the MV Emperor Asmaa. This 30-meter modern vessel can accommodate 20
guests where your choices of accommodation includes lower or upper deck twin
cabins. The staff ensures that all diving, onboard leisure activities are safe
and comfortable. But what really stands out with the Emperor Asmaa is their
affordability, where despite its cheaper price compared to other liveaboards,
quality is never compromised.