Shark Diving in Florida (Tips, Gear, Places, Shark Species, Cost)

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: July 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Shark diving is where you go scuba diving specifically looking for sharks. In most cases this also means chumming is involved. Diving with sharks, an activity that’s quickly becoming popular with more than just the thrill seekers. In fact, diving with sharks has become a massive business around the world. For example, in South Africa, a prime shark-diving spot, the country earns about $30 million a year from tourists looking to see sharks up close 

The Florida waters are famous for their varieties of sharks from Tigers, Bulls, Silkies to Hammerheads, or if you are lucky, all at once! It is a thrilling and exciting dive, with a chance to get up-close and personal to one of the most beautiful animals in the ocean! 

Shark diving is where you go scuba diving specifically looking for sharks. In most cases this also means chumming is involved. Diving with sharks, an activity that’s quickly becoming popular with more than just the thrill seekers. In fact, diving with sharks has become a massive business around the world. For example, in South Africa, a prime shark-diving spot, the country earns about $30 million a year from tourists looking to see sharks up close 

The Florida waters are famous for their varieties of sharks from Tigers, Bulls, Silkies to Hammerheads, or if you are lucky, all at once! It is a thrilling and exciting dive, with a chance to get up-close and personal to one of the most beautiful animals in the ocean! 

Types of Shark Diving 

There are basically two options for you to have a personal look at the sharks. But for both you need to know scuba diving first- 

Cage Diving with Sharks

The most common method of diving with sharks is cage diving. This method is by far the safest, yet it still allows divers to get up close and personal with the sharks. The cage, which is attached to a boat, is typically a rectangle and fits about four divers at a time. Once in the water, divers have a largely unobstructed view of the sharks as they swim within feet of the cage. A typical dive will last about 20 to 30 minutes and give the diver plenty of chances to take pictures and marvel at the mighty creatures. 

Open Water Diving with Sharks

The most extreme form of diving with sharks is to go all out and literally swim with them in their natural habitat. No cages, no safety link to the boat, just you and the sharks in the wide open ocean. At the moment, there are only a few places on Earth that will allow you to view sharks without a cage, but you may find it to be an experience that’s well worth the trip. Open water diving is a safe activity, but it is always important to remember that sharks are wild animals and can be unpredictable. 

10 Things You Need to Know When Diving with Sharks

  • Sharks encountered on coral reefs during the day are usually not dangerous. Unless provoked.
  • Potentially dangerous species include Tiger Sharks and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. You may encounter these on coral reefs but they tend to completely ignore divers. It’s worth learning about the different sharks you may come across. That way you’ll be more aware of any potential danger.
  • Avoid diving at dawn or dusk on reefs where there are sharks. Normally disinterested species of reef shark can become aggressive. Also large open water species, such as Tiger Sharks, may be visiting reefs to feed.
  • In remote areas you may find that sharks make initial close approaches, out of curiosity.
  • Sharks that’ve been hand-fed – such as those at various sites in the Caribbean – are likely to get quite close. They’re expecting diver handouts and may become aggressive if disappointed.
  • When diving in waters where there are sharks, swim quickly and purposefully down to the reef. Don’t linger on the surface.
  • Sharks tend to be encountered on the current-swept areas of the reef. So avoid swimming in these areas, especially if you can’t easily then return to the reef. Reef sharks encountered beyond the reef may become aggressive. While larger and more dangerous species, such as Oceanic Whitetips and Silky Sharks, may suddenly appear.
  • If you’re swept off a reef by a current, surface as soon as possible and attract attention so that your boat can rapidly collect you. If sharks appear, don’t thrash around. Stay calm. If a shark nudges you, prod, kick, or thump it. But not with your bare skin.
  • Never spearfish in the presence of sharks. Or, in an attempt to feed them. Spear fishermen should never tether speared fish to themselves.
  • Never photograph or follow a shark that seems to be swimming in an unusual way. Particularly when they hunch their back and point their pectoral fins downwards. Such exaggerated, stiff and hunched swimming postures are agonistic displays. These have been followed by injurious attacks on nearby divers. 
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Things you need to go for Shark Diving

Scuba diving in the USA is slightly different from other countries, you usually need to bring your own tanks, and this is the case in Florida.

You will be asked to wear specific equipment such as

– Gloves

– Hood

– Black full wetsuit

– Black fins

It does depend on the dive centre, as some are also ok with just NOT white or yellow gear, but anything else is fine. 

Shark diving in Florida

Florida has the best shark diving in the United States and is one of top shark diving destinations in the world. This is because Florida offers world-class shark diving 7 days a week year-round with sharks seen on every trip. Not only does this location have large numbers of sharks but it is home to high profile species such as Tiger, Great Hammerhead, Bull, Dusky, Silky, Reef, Sandbar, and Lemon Sharks. Palm Beach is home to some of the largest numbers of sharks in the world. Whether you’re an experienced shark diver or a novice looking to see a shark for the first time, Florida is the best place to have a successful day of adventure on the water.

Top 5 best places to go shark diving in florida

Florida is a hot bed for shark activity. These majestic creatures enjoy the warm Atlantic & Gulf waters thanks to the abundance of food. Here is the list of top 5 places in Florida where you can travel for an up close and personal look at the sharks- 

  • Florida Shark Diving, Jupiter

Florida Shark Diving gets you up close and personal with sharks in their natural surroundings with some of the largest numbers of sharks in the world. You can be an experienced shark diver or a novice looking to see a shark for the first time! You have two options of trips – viewing the sharks from the boat or cage-diving and free-diving with the sharks!

  • Keys Shark Diving, Marathon
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The Florida Keys and its offshore waters are the natural habitats of a diverse variety of sharks! Whether it’s your first time diving with a shark or you’re experienced, Keys Shark Diving has an excursion for you! You can either take a shark viewing trip (non-diving) or a shark diving trip inside a shark cage! 

  • Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West, Florida

Dry Tortugas is one of the very few breeding grounds known for nurse sharks. But, it’s also one of the most remote and obscure National Parks. Dry Tortugas is 70 miles from Key West. You need to take a charter or ferry and only approved companies can do wildlife tours. Biologists have been studying the mating ground for 30 years. You can go cage diving in this national park

  • Palm Beach Shark and Turtle Dives

The reefs off Palm Beach attract hammerhead, reef, nurse, lemon and spinner sharks. You may also see rays and loggerhead, green sea, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. You can both free dive and cage dive in Palm beach. 

  • Miami Cage Diving

You may also see two different species in Miami of hammerheads (great hammerhead and scalloped hammerhead). The cage is about 3 miles offshore. Bear in mind you can also swim with sharks in Miami, along with scuba and snorkeling options. For bulls and tiger shark diving, you’ll probably want to stay with the cage. 

Sharks Species You can Dive with in Florida

Sharks come in all forms of shapes and sizes (almost). There are more than 500 different species of sharks in our oceans and every year scientists discover new species. You can dive with most of them. Some require a bit more attention than others, but divers have been with them in the water a number of times.

Let’s have a look at the species of sharks that you can dive with in florida- 

  • Lemon Sharks

Florida has lemon resident sharks year round, so you are almost guaranteed to run into one of these guys during a dive here. The lemon shark is a yellow-gray shark most easily identified by its second dorsal fin. They can grow up to 11-feet and weigh over 200 pounds, but most don’t exceed 9 feet.  They are highly attached to the wrecks and ledges in South Florida and are most commonly spotted in these areas. Since 2009, the lemon shark has been protected from harvest in Florida state waters.

  • Bull Sharks

Bull sharks are another very common species to find in Florida, though not as bold as the Lemon sharks, the Bull sharks will tend to remain a little lower in the water column and not come as close to divers. They can grow up to 11-feet and a pale to dark gray on top with a white underside. They are quick, agile, and opportunistic hunters, and unfortunately a popular target among sport fisherman.

  • Silky Sharks

The Silky shark is an abundant shark found around the world in tropical waters. These guys are very curious and tend to swim really close to your ankles when you’re diving with them, so it’s important to really stay alert when these guys are around. They have a slender, streamlined body and grow to a length of 8-feet.

  • Dusky Sharks

Dusky sharks can grow up to 14-feet and weight 750 pounds. They’re one of the slowest-growing and latest-maturing sharks, not reaching adulthood until around 20 years of age. The Dusky shark has been a Species of Concern since 1997 and fishing is prohibited.

  • Black Tip Sharks
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The Black Tip shark is most easily identified by its distinctive black tip on most of its fins except its anal fin. They are principally a pelagic species but often come inshore in large schools to feed. Frequently Black Tips are the most common large shark in clear-water cuts along the beaches in Florida.

  • Great Hammerhead Sharks

The Great Hammerhead is the largest in the Hammerhead family, reaching a maximum length of about 18-feet. It gets its name from its hammer-shaped head, which is nearly straight with a shallow notch in the center, distinguishing it from the Smooth Hammerhead and Scalloped Hammerhead. I’m still trying to find my first Hammerhead in Florida, so if you run into one on your dive consider yourself lucky and consider me very jealous!

  • Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

The Scalloped Hammerhead is smaller than the Great Hammerhead and can be distinguished by the curved backside of its head, which differs from the straight edge found on the Great Hammerhead. The Scalloped Hammerhead ranges from 6-12 feet and is protected from harvest in Florida state waters.

  • Tiger Sharks

If you visit Florida in the winter, you may be lucky enough to run into a Tiger shark. These big animals usually migrate in the winter and can be spotted in Florida October-April. Tiger sharks are one of the larger shark species; the largest individuals are believed to exceed 18-feet and 2000 pounds. While Tiger sharks are much larger, they move much slower than something like a Bull shark, which are a lot feistier than Tiger sharks. Tigers are also protected from harvest in Florida state waters.

Best time to plan a Shark diving adventure in Florida

Although you can plan your adventure trip throughout the year, here is the list of some best seasons if you want to experience these gigantic creatures-

  • The large Lemon shark population (lemon shark migration is from late December through March) makes for a thrilling cage-free shark dive year round, but each season brings in different species. 
  • Great Hammerheads and Tigers sharks pass by during their winter migration, and the Dusky and Silky sharks love to stop by in the summer when the water warms up. 

Cost to go Shark diving in Florida

The budget for Shark diving varies depending upon the way you want to experience-

Cost for cage diving in Florida

Prices based on per day 

  • For one person- $165 + 7% tax 
  • For second person- $125+ tax 
  • Mask, Snorkel and Fins – $20
  • Wetsuit – $20
  • Time- 5 hours half day trip 

Cost For open water diving in Florida

Prices based on per day 

  • For 2 tanks- $130 + 7% tax
  • For 3 tanks – $150 + 7% tax
  • BCD Rental – $20
  • Regulator & Computer – $20
  • Mask, Snorkel and Fins – $20
  • Wetsuit – $20
  • Tank Rental – $20 per tank

Is it safe to Shark Drive in Florida? 

YES! Did you know more people die per year from falling coconuts than sharks? Sharks are beautiful and gentle creatures and swimming with them is completely safe. There will always be safety divers in the water with you keeping an eye out and they’re trained to keep all divers safe. 

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