Ibrahim Rifath

The Best Liveaboard Trips to Dive with Sharks

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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.

The Best Liveaboard Trips to Dive with Sharks: At a Glance

Vessel# of RoomsNitroxWifiLengthCostPADI TravelLiveaboardDiveBooker
Galapagos Master9YesNo32m$$$CheckCheckCheck
Nautilus Explorer13YesYes35m$$CheckCheckCheck
Aqua Cat11YesNo31m$$CheckCheckCheck
Atlantis Azores8YesNo33m$$NACheckCheck
Reef Endeavor62NoNo73m$CheckCheckCheck
Avalon I8NoNo33m$$NACheckNA
Scubaspa Yang19YesYes50m$$CheckCheckCheck
Emperor Asmaa10YesYes30m$CheckCheckCheck

The Best Liveaboard Trips to Dive with Sharks: Reviewed


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

Photo credit: Argo

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.                    

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Galapagos Master

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.

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Nautilus Explorer

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.   

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Aqua Cat

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.

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Atlantis Azores

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.

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard / DiveBooker


Capacity: Over 100 guests
Area of Operation: Fiji
Dive Destination: Yasawa Islands
Sharks to be encountered: Tiger sharks and bull sharks

Photo credit: Reef Endeavor

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 souvenir shops.

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.

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Avalon I

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 non-electronic equipment.  

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


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

Photo credit: Ilike

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.        

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Scubaspa Yang

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.           

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker


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

Photo credit: Emperor Asmaa

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.

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel / Liveaboard / DiveBooker

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