Swimming with sharks in the US might not be for the faint-hearted, but it is an unforgettable experience that provides an opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in their own habitat.
The United States is home to some of the best shark diving locations in the world. Divers can choose to enter the water in a cage or swim freely in the water with some of the planet’s largest and most deadly fish.
Both the east and west coasts of the US are great locations for beginners and experienced divers alike to explore beneath the waves.
The United States has many locations where you can swim with sharks. Florida is renowned for shark-diving, but there are many other places that offer diving charters on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Some of the best states to go diving with sharks include:
International visitors traveling with an ESTA visa waiver can book to go shark cage diving in the USA or on a tour that allows them to swim freely alongside these oceanic predators.
Whether cage diving with great whites off the coast of San Diego or swimming with sharks in Tampa, the experience is likely to be a highlight of the trip to the United States.
Florida is one of the best states for swimming with sharks — in fact, it is considered one of the top locations for shark diving in the world.
There are various locations in Florida where companies offer shark diving charters, allowing visitors to see the iconic predatory fish up close in their natural environment.
Some of the most popular places to swim with sharks in Florida are:
Safety is paramount when swimming with sharks in a cage or in the open water. It is essential to follow the instructions of the diving tour leader and general safety protocols.
Useful safety tips for diving with sharks include the following:
It is also advisable to avoid marine mammals such as seals and sea lions in areas where sharks may be present, since larger sharks eat these animals. Sharks do not have good vision and may mistake humans for their natural prey.
If a risk arises, it is important to swim calmly and return to the boat without thrashing around.
Divers should wear a wetsuit, fins, mask, and snorkel when swimming with sharks in America.
It is strongly recommended to avoid brightly colored diving equipment. Although sharks are thought to be colorblind, they identify contrast well and are attracted by colors that stand out against the background. Yellow is particularly advised against.
Even in diving hot-spots like Florida, shark diving attacks are rare.
However, it is important to remember that sharks are wild animals and even species that only eat shellfish will defend themselves if they feel threatened. The sea is also a hazardous environment and divers should be aware of the species native to the area and any nearby currents that could affect them.
That said, incidents while swimming with sharks around the United States are incredibly uncommon and the vast majority of divers enjoy a unique experience under the sea.
Numerous species of shark can be found in the coastal waters around the United States. These include the fastest shark in the world, the shortfin mako shark and the infamous great white — the largest predatory fish on Earth.
Shark species native to the US include:
The waters off San Diego are a great location to find shortfin mako sharks. There are also boat trips from the city to Guadalupe Island, where it is possible to go cage diving with great white sharks.
The Cove, La Jolla (California) is a shark hotspot, where leopard sharks, tope sharks, angel sharks, and horn sharks can be found.
On the east coast, visitors to Morehead City, North Carolina can go diving around the Graveyard of the Atlantic, where the numerous shipwrecks make homes for sand tiger sharks.
In Florida, the sea around Jupiter is a great place to find lemon sharks, while Tampa is known for numerous shark species, including the formidable tiger shark.
The colder waters around Rhode Island are a great place to witness migrating blue sharks and mako sharks.
Prices for diving with sharks can vary significantly, depending on the location, the length of the trip, and any additional features of the trip.
A 2-hour snorkeling trip in La Jolla could cost $40-50, while guided boat tours in many places cost $100-200. Trips for beginners that include scuba and snorkeling classes may cost several hundred dollars, while some cage-diving charters can cost over $1000.
In diving hot-spots such as Florida, shark diving charters are easy to find.
Trips can be booked online or at ports. Hotels may have information on local companies that offer boat tours and might be able to help guests book to go swimming with sharks.
In addition to the shark dive itself, international visitors will have to organize travel to the States and obtain either a US tourist visa or the ESTA visa waiver, depending on their nationality.
The ESTA is quick and easy to obtain. Travelers must fill in a simple ESTA online application form and the travel authorization will be received by email. This eliminates the need to attend an interview at an embassy or consulate, as with a visa.
Check the ESTA requirements to find out which nationalities may apply.
Once the traveler has authorization to enter the United States and has booked their flights, they will be able to swim alongside the ocean’s most infamous predators.