Yacht charters to the best destinations to free dive with sharks

Published 09 janvier 2024

What could be more relaxing than diving with some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth? Charter to amazing destinations and explore the tranquil waters.


What is a free diving yacht charter?

A superyacht gives you the freedom and opportunity to adventure into the otherwise inaccessible – to explore remote locations with all the facilities required to delve beneath the surface. With only five percent of the oceans currently fully explored, we know more about the surface of the moon that we do about the underwater world. Added to this, the accessibility of the ocean is a privilege open to only a small percentage of the world’s population, and the ability to explore beneath the surface of that ocean an even greater one. 

Get ready to swim with sharks in their natural habitat 

When you add in the freedom that free diving allows, being at one with nature in the rawest way possible can prove the ultimate experience for many. All you need is a wetsuit, dive watch, fins, mask, and a camera to capture the most magical moments. And, for those with the breathing ability (and the nerve), there are experts who can drop you right into the thrashing heart of the action to free dive with one of the most revered predators on the planet – the shark. Whether you are a shark lover or just a self-confessed thrill seeker, free diving with these incredible prehistoric creatures is certainly one for the bucket list.  

What is free diving?  

A growing number of travellers are taking up free diving – the practice of diving on a single breath to explore the world’s oceans. Free diving origins are thought to date back as far as 2,000 years when Japanese women would free dive in cold waters, holding their breath for minutes at a time to gather seaweed, shellfish, and pearls. Known as Ama pearl divers (Ama being ‘woman of the sea’ in Japanese), a diminishing number of them continues to free dive for up to four hours a day, some learning their trade aged 12 and continuing to dive into their 90s.  

Ama pearl divers used to stay at sea for months, diving up to 50 times a day

Free diving for the sake of exploring the ocean without aid has gained momentum and the art, or science, of diving on a single breath has become a sport for many with lungs of steel. The current record stands at 24 minutes on one breath, but any form of free diving takes practice, a tenacious mind, an ability to stay calm, and lots of breath work.  

Free diving with sharks

One might think that free diving with sharks is not environmentally sound but given that they are an important part of the marine eco-system, their existence is vital. Shark diving is a great way to support local conservation efforts and help to gain a better understanding on how we can live in harmony with these magnificent creatures. Sharks are an endangered species – some species are even at risk of extinction due to shark poaching and overfishing, and the more general environmental dangers threatening our ocean.  

With over 500 species, sharks are truly magnificent creatures

However, sharks play a vital role in the balance of the marine ecosystem – they are often termed the white blood cells of the ocean as they help to clean away the sick or dead animals. Thankfully, over 20 shark sanctuaries have now been created all over the world for their protection, and parallel to this has been an increased interest in specific shark diving trips.  

 The best cruising grounds to free dive with sharks 

From the cruising grounds of The Bahamas to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the South Pacific, the ocean is filled with constellations of magical marine life, including sharks. Create indelible memories as you escape your comfort zone in style with Burgess’ pick of the best cruising grounds to free dive with sharks.  

The Bahamas

Adventure below the surface and discover the vibrant marine life The Bahamas has to offer

The calm warm waters of The Bahamas offer ideal diving conditions for recreational divers, and those new to free diving. The collective 700 Bahamian islands are known for their resident sharks – from tiger sharks to hammerhead and Caribbean reef sharks, anywhere there is water in The Bahamas there are also sharks. There are quite a few islands to consider when choosing where to dive with sharks, but Tiger Beach and The Exumas offer two varied options that can be easily incorporated into a superyacht cruise through The Bahamas.  

Tiger Beach

The clear, calm waters lapping the small, shallow sand flat at Tiger Beach are one of the most reliable spots to swim and dive with tiger sharks. Residents of these waters year-round, these majestic apex predators are both curious and cautious, despite growing to over six metres in length. While tiger sharks are the main attraction, hence the name, there are also scores of other shark species which frequent the shallow waters here.  

Explore the shallow waters of Tiger Beach and discover the variety of shark species that populate the waters

These can include Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, bull sharks and even from time-to-time great hammerheads, as well as many other marine animals large and small. The sharks here will sometimes come into shallow waters where the depth of the water is just six metres so it is a great spot for beginner free divers who do not have much experience, and those who are experienced can simply free dive where the yacht is anchored at around 30m depth.  

The Exumas

Beautiful both above and below the waves, The Exumas are home to a great variety of dive spots including thrilling shark dives, blue holes, and swim-throughs. Beautiful walls are frequented by hammerheads, bull sharks, lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, Oceanic whitetip sharks, silky sharks, and nurse sharks.  

Silky sharks have a strong sense of hearing allowing them to hunt effectively for prey

Staniel Cay has wonderful snorkelling and free diving opportunities, with fast drift dives over shallow and vibrant corals. When you tire of these, there are deeper dives where you can encounter reef sharks, while further south, Long Island offers the more adventurous the chance to get up close to mako, bull and reef sharks.  


Take a dive around Guadalupe Island or admire the picturesque views

Mexico’s two coasts are ripe for diving. The Pacific Coast is where you will find the most exciting dive spots, while over to the east, the warm Caribbean Sea provides diving opportunities to suit all tastes. From thrilling encounters with great whites around Guadalupe Island to dives with just about every shark species around Socorro Islands, Mexican waters are like an underwater Jurassic Park.  

Socorro Island, Baja California  

On par with the Galápagos, Mexico’s Pacific Coast is home to one of the most biologically rich bodies of water in the world. Located 240 miles off Baja California, the Socorro Islands has a reputation as a world-class shark destination. Battered by deep ocean currents, the waters host a bounty of shark species and pelagic giants, including Galápagos sharks, silky sharks, hammerheads, whitetip reef sharks and an occasional whale shark or humpback whale.  

Whitetip reef sharks are known to be shy as they swim away when approached by divers and swimmers

Yucatán Peninsula  

On Mexico’s northwest coast, the island of Cozumel basks in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Its thriving barrier reef and tiny drop-offs are home to all manner of marine life, including whale sharks and the occasional reef shark, with over 45 dive sites for all levels.  

The island of Cozumel is a scuba diver's dream, home to dolphins, sea turtles and reef sharks


Fiji's coral reef houses close to 300 species of coral, cabbage coral being one of them 

If you are a more experienced diver, then the chances are that the tropical islands of Fiji are your dream destination. The smorgasbord of marine life in the waters surrounding Fiji’s 330-plus islands attracts a lot of hungry ocean predators, including sharks. The chance to encounter larger (and more dangerous) bull and tiger sharks is one for the extreme adventurer. 

Shark Reef Marine Reserve 

Located off the southern coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s Shark Reef Marine Reserve is one of the most successful shark conservation projects in the South Pacific. The area, which was officially designated Fiji’s first National Marine Park in 2014, is protected from fishing with a marine park levy being paid to the local villages which traditionally owned the fishing rights on Shark Reef.  

These protected waters are home to eight species of sharks and to Napoleon wrasse

Since its inception in 2003, Shark Reef has seen a significant increase in the number of sharks, with over eight different shark species, including adult bull sharks, grey reef sharks, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, tawny nurse sharks and sickle fin lemon sharks. Silvertip and tiger sharks are also occasionally encountered, but its primary claim to fame is that it has the largest population of bull sharks in the world.  

The Maldives

Whale sharks are known as the gentle giants of the ocean and can live up to a 150 years

The Indian Ocean is home to some of the most beautiful islands on the planet, including the Maldives. And beyond the five and six-star resorts, nature awaits. Fringed by white-sand beaches lapped by gin-clear waters – the Maldives are one of the world’s most unique and coveted free-diving destinations. Whether you head north or south, the diving just about everywhere is fantastic – it is simply not possible to pick a best. Madivaru, with its whale sharks; Fish Head with its plethora of marine life – every atoll offers thousands of dive sites, the only decision you need to make is when to go and whether you want the larger pelagic fish or the incredible variety of smaller sea life.  

South Ari Atoll

Famous for its beautiful underwater topography, the South Ari Atoll is home to reefs and channels with dramatic overhangs and canyons draped in corals that are home to an abundance of marine life, including large pelagic whale sharks. Exciting encounters with these magnificent fish are almost guaranteed year-round here, with opportunities to swim alongside the gentle giants as they feed and cruise in the bio-rich waters along the reef. Manta rays are also seen around the atoll, particularly around Manta Point – a marine protected reef on the south of Rangali Kandu.  

Visit Manta Point and swim with the manta rays

The Seychelles

Explore more of the Seychelles by visiting the boulder formations and caves

Like the Maldives, the Seychelles also lie in a somewhat isolated location in the Indian Ocean, but the diving in these two archipelagos is very different. The underwater topography in the Seychelles is really a reflection of what lies above, with massive boulder strewn formations and towering monoliths. While the Inner Islands are topographically the most stunning with their palm-clad crests, the Outer Islands, and the Aldabra group in particular, are relatively uncharted and offer some of the best diving on the planet.  

The Inner Islands

The Inner Islands are known for diving with majestic whale sharks from October to January during the plankton bloom (also meaning less visibility) and briefly in August, but the seas are calmest from March to May and September to November, so this time is considered better for free diving. What makes these waters unique for divers is the topography of towering monolithic underwater granite boulders strewn across the sea floor. These provide hiding places for all manner of sea life, including large nurse sharks, rays, turtles, and on some sites, mantas, and also eagle rays.  

Eagle rays should to admired from afar as their venomous tail spikes can cause serious wounds

The Outer Islands  

Those lucky enough to reach the Outer Islands, and particularly the Aldabra group of islands, will experience what must be as close as you can get to diving the final frontier. The largest coral reef atoll in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Astove Atoll is the smallest of the Aldabra group and is made up of a large, shallow lagoon surrounded by sheer coral reef drop-offs. Due to the sheer remoteness of the Aldabra group, only some 180 divers a year visit these waters, and the opportunity to swim with sharks alone is almost guaranteed.  

Snorkel in the shallow waters among blacktip reef sharks

The Cosmoledo Atoll is even more remote than neighbouring Astove, making for a total castaway experience. One of the largest uninhabited atolls in the Seychelles, the 19 wild islands here host the highest percentage of hard coral cover found in the Indian Ocean, attracting silvertip sharks, hammerheads, and reef sharks to feed on the smaller fish in this rich marine environment.  


Explore all that Tahiti has to offer from hard corals to smaller marine life

Pick your spot carefully and Tahiti and the Society Islands offer some of the best diving and the finest shark action anywhere on the planet, along with spectacular cruising grounds. 


Located at the heart of the Tuamoto archipelago, Rangiroa is the second largest atoll in the world and offers world-class diving. Most of the best dive sites are drift dives into one of the two lagoon passes – the Tiputa Pass and the Avatoru Pass – where divers will find more marine life, in particular sharks, than almost anywhere else in the world.  

Hammerhead sharks use sensors in their hammer-shaped heads to detect their stingray prey then pin them against the sea floor

From November until late February, hammerhead sightings are very common, while grey reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks and lemon sharks and occasionally tiger sharks can be spotted year-round. However, it is the volume of the sharks that is the most exciting – with sightings of up to a hundred sharks at a time.


With temperate conditions all year round Ningaloo Reef is great for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving

Home to what is arguably the most famous dive area on the planet, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has a few must-dives during any potential yacht charter. Most divers flock to witness the huge array of marine life that Australia’s east coast has to offer, but the entire coastline offers diving opportunities. Western Australia, for example, has some spectacular dive sites on Ningaloo Reef, and the waters that lap Lord Howe Island, which lies to the south of Sydney, are a thriving unique marine ecosystem with an abundant and diverse mix of marine life.  

The Great Barrier Reef

To snorkel or scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef is to take a glimpse into nature’s indifference to humans, but to descend freestyle, without scuba gear, and simply drift on the current in perfect silence while marine life goes about its day is an altogether more otherworldly experience. Add to this the opportunities to swim with over 134 different shark species that call the reef home and sharks are always a highlight of any diving trip during an Australian yacht charter.  

Swim alongside the reef-dwelling sharks of the Great Barrier Reef

Many of the species are non-threatening to humans, with most reef-dwelling sharks, including whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, entirely harmless unless provoked. In fact, only a handful of sharks that live in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef pose a hazard, the likes of the oceanic whitetip, tiger sharks, and large grey sharks, but they mostly prefer deeper waters and are rarely seen on the reef itself.  

Osprey Reef

One of the most northerly reefs in the Coral Sea, Osprey Reef is separated from the continental shelf by a deep-water trough and is a highlight for any big fish diving action. For free divers, the lagoon area is only 30m deep, while just half a mile out the water shelves to almost 1,000m, attracting shoals of pelagic fish including a resident population of sharks.

Enjoy a relaxing swim alongside stunning sea turtles

North Horn is one of the best spots to dive with sharks, including grey reef sharks, silky sharks, silvertips, and hammerheads, while the reef, which is in pristine condition unlike the Great Barrier Reef, is also occasionally frequented by whale sharks. 

Discover how to make every day different with Burgess. Speak to our team of expert charter brokers today.

To find out more about Burgess’ yachts for sale and yachts for charter, please contact a Burgess broker. Alternatively, get in touch with one of our offices directly: London, Monaco, New York, Miami, Singapore or all other locations.

- Yachts, prices and availability are correct at the time of publication.

Inscrivez-vous à notre newsletter

Restez informé

Inscrivez-vous à notre newsletter pour recevoir toutes les actualités de Burgess.

Quels types d'e-mails souhaitez-vous recevoir ?

Afin de comprendre comment nous utilisons et protégeons vos informations personnelles, veuillez lire notre politique de confidentialité.

Langue : en fr

Filtrer vos résultats