Swimming with sharks is an exhilarating experience that more and more adventurous travelers are seeking out. But these underwater encounters don’t come cheap. In this guide, we break down the costs and considerations for getting up close and personal with sharks.
Swimming with apex predators like great white sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks can be an unforgettable thrill – and an important way to appreciate these often misunderstood creatures. But make no mistake: joining a shark dive requires careful planning and an investment. Prices vary widely based on factors like location, dive style, and operator.
Here’s what you need to know to dive in without getting financially bitten.
How Much Does it Cost to Swim With Sharks?
Here are typical price ranges for some popular shark diving destinations:
- Great white cage diving in South Africa or Australia: $200 – $3,500+
- Tiger shark open water diving in The Bahamas: $300 – $1,000
- Reef shark snorkeling in Hawaii: $100 – $300
In South Africa, great white cage dive day trips average $200 – $500. Multi-day trips with added dives run $1,500 – $3,500. Peak season is May through September.
In Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, multi-day great white cage dive trips typically start around $3,000 per person. August through October are prime months.
In the Galapagos, expect to spend $3,000 – $5,000 for a week-long liveaboard dive trip with opportunities to see scalloped hammerheads, reef sharks, and more.
The Bahamas’ Tiger Beach is home to a resident population of tiger sharks. Day trips average $300 – $500. For a multi-day liveaboard, expect prices starting around $1,000 – $1,500. Summer is peak season.
Discovery Cove offers swimming with tropical sharks in Orlando, Florida, with prices starting at $169.00.
Stuart Coves offers a 2-Tank Shark Diving Adventure Trip for $242.40 USD per person. They also have a Shark Feeder Program for $3,180.00 and a Shark Awareness Specialty Course for $324 USD per person.
Calypso Dive Charters offers shark snorkeling for $195 plus 7% tax for the first person and $175 plus tax for the second person.
An Introduction to Shark Diving Experiences
Shark diving trips enable adventurous souls to encounter sharks safely, with guides who know these animals’ behaviors. Options include:
- Cage diving – Divers observe sharks through bars of a sturdy cage lowered into the water, protected from direct contact. Often used for great white shark encounters.
- Open water diving – Experienced divers use scuba gear to swim near sharks with no barrier. Requires training and nerves of steel.
- Snorkeling – Some shark snorkeling trips are available in select spots. You remain at the water’s surface.
Thrill-seekers are drawn to shark dives for the adrenaline rush of proximity to powerful predators. Conservation-minded travelers also want to learn about misunderstood and threatened shark species.
These experiences support shark research and inspire visitors to support shark conservation. When done responsibly, shark dive tourism can aid protection efforts.
The Many Types of Shark Diving Experiences
Cage diving with great whites is a bucket list quest for many. South Africa, Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, and Australia offer prime great white shark cage diving. You’ll also find cage diving with smaller reef sharks in tropical locales like the Bahamas.
For open water shark diving, hot spots include the Galapagos Islands, The Bahamas’ Tiger Beach, and Egypt’s Red Sea. These areas have populations of reef sharks and other species that have become comfortable with divers.
You can also find shark snorkeling in places like Hawaii and Belize. While not as immersive, snorkeling with reef sharks can provide thrills without scuba skills.
What Factors Impact the Cost of Shark Dives?
Shark diving is almost always offered on organized dive trips or snorkeling tours. Prices per person generally range from $100 to over $5,000, depending on:
- Destination – Remote areas with bigger sharks like great whites cost more.
- Dive style – Cage diving is most expensive, with open water and snorkels cheaper.
- Trip length – Multi-day trips with multiple dives can offer higher value.
- Group size – Smaller groups mean higher cost per person but more intimate experience.
- Time of year – Peak seasons can boost prices.
- Operator – More upscale boats and outfitters charge premium rates.
Professional guides, equipment, meals, and transportation are usually included. You’ll need to budget for flights, hotels, insurance, and tips.
Preparing for a Safe and Enjoyable Shark Dive
Shark diving should only be done through a reputable, permitted operator following strict protocols. Required preparation may include:
- Scuba certification for open water shark dives
- Instruction on behaviors around sharks
- Waivers of liability
- Wearing provided chainmail dive suits in some cases
While inherently risky, responsible shark dive operations have excellent safety records. Most accidents happen at the surface, not when divers are underwater.
The greatest dangers to sharks come from illegal and irresponsible tourism practices that disrupt their habitat. Choosing an operator that follows regulations helps protect shark populations.
The Importance of Eco-Friendly Shark Diving
The tourism value of sharks makes them worth more alive than dead. Dive tourism helps counter the threats sharks face from overfishing and finning.
However, shark diving conducted improperly can lead to the disruption of ecosystems and breeding grounds. Responsible operators limit diver numbers, enforce viewing distances, and anchor carefully to avoid damage.
To ensure your shark dive helps support conservation:
- Choose permitted operators employing naturalists and marine biologists
- Look for companies involved in shark research and advocacy efforts
- Avoid chumming, feeding, or baiting practices to attract sharks
- Be respectful of sharks and their habitat during the encounter
Booking Your Shark Diving Adventure
Here are some tips for choosing a top-notch shark dive experience:
- Look for companies with strong safety records and responsible practices
- Check for certifications like PADI Shark Specialty
- Read recent reviews and trip reports from other divers
- Ask detailed questions when comparing operators
- Book well in advance for peak seasons
- Consider adding extra dives and tour days for greater value
- Purchase travel insurance, including medical evacuation
- Arrange flights, hotels, and transfers for seamless logistics
While costly, responsible shark dive trips provide an incredible connection with majestic marine predators. The unparalleled thrill justifies the expense for many adventurers.
Swimming with sharks in their natural habitat offers one of adventure travel’s greatest thrills. While not cheap, reputable shark diving tours are a once-in-a-lifetime splurge for adrenaline junkies, underwater photographers, marine life enthusiasts, and experienced divers.
By practicing responsible and sustainable shark tourism, we invest in protecting the lives of these vital ocean predators. While costly, shark dives offer an enriching close encounter with awe-inspiring creatures that is worth every penny.
FAQs About Shark Diving
Is shark diving safe?
Shark diving is very safe when done through reputable operators. No human fatalities have ever been recorded on regulated shark dives. Responsible guides use precautions like cages and bait lines to create controlled interactions. However, there are always inherent risks with adventure travel and open water activities.
How much does it cost to go cage diving with great white sharks in Mexico?
Multi-day great white shark cage diving trips around Mexico’s Guadalupe Island typically range from around $3,000 to $5,000 per person. The price usually covers guided dives, surface viewing, cage equipment, meals, 4-5 nights lodging on a liveaboard boat, and local transportation.
Additional costs include flights, hotels before/after, tips, and rental of any dive gear.
Do you need training to scuba dive with sharks?
Yes, an advanced open water scuba certification, experience with drift dives, and sometimes first aid/CPR training are required to scuba dive with sharks like bull sharks and tiger sharks.
Most reputable shark dive centers will not allow inexperienced shark divers to join open-water dives. Taking a shark specialty course is highly recommended to learn behaviors and precautions.