Did you know that sharks have been around for more than 400 million years? Not only do they pre-date humans but also dinosaurs, making them some of the oldest living creatures to patrol our planet. Despite this, over 100 million sharks are killed each year by human activity, from bycatch to shark-finning and everything in between. This week is officially Shark Week, which means we get to hop aboard our merry soapbox in support for sharks, which are not only an incredible sighting when diving but also integral to the functioning of the ocean. So, without further ado read on to discover the best shark diving sites in the world...

hammerheads cocos island

Bajo Alcyone: Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Bajo Alcyone off Cocos Island is hands down the best place in the world to see scalloped hammerheads. And not just one or two, but hundreds. Clinging on to the seamount some 25 metres deep, watch as hundreds of these odd-headed sharks glide past, below and above - there's nothing more magical then seeing a hammerheads silhouette against the sunlit shimmer of ocean's surface.

Shark species: Scalloped hammerheads

Level: Advanced

Type: Seamount

When: June - November

thresher shark

Monad Shoal: Malapascua, Philippines

One of the most elusive sharks to roam the ocean, thresher sharks are rarely encountered by divers as they prefer deep ocean waters (550+ metres). Except, of course, in Monad Shoal. Located off Malapascua to the north of Cebu in the Philippines, divers descend at dawn to an underwater ridge at 30 metres, where these long-tailed beauties venture in the early hours for a morning clean.

Shark species: Thresher Shark

Level: Advanced

Type: Ridge Dive

When: June - November

great white shark

Great White Cage Dive: Isla Guadalupe, Mexico

Superb visibility and reliable sightings make Isla Guadalupe the best place in the world for cage diving with great white sharks. Located in the Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Mexico, the only way to access Isla Guadalupe is by liveaboard, but it's worth any sea sickness as snorkellers and divers alike are virtually guaranteed close-up encounters with curious great whites from the safety of a cage.

Shark species: Great white shark

Level: Snorkeller +

Type: Cage Diving

When: July - November

bull shark

Bull Shark Dive: Beqa Lagoon, Fiji

"Beqa Lagoon is one of the few places in the world where you can surround yourself with the mighty, magnificent bull shark. You can dive with up to 80 at one time and for the lucky few a tiger shark may even turn up. They got so close to us that they even hit us in the face as they swam past - but don't worry it's all completely safe!" - Original Diver Lizzie Barry on her recent shark diving adventure in Fiji.

Shark species: Bull sharks, tiger sharks, reef sharks

Level: Open water

Type: Baited

When: July - September

sharks tiputa pass

Canyons: Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Imagine an underwater freeway but replace the hectic stream of cars with grey reef sharks and you won't even come close to Canyons. Located inside shark-famous Tiputa Pass in Rangiroa, divers descend into the mouth of the pass and enter an underwater canyon to watch as up to 200 grey reef sharks whizz past in the current. While June and July are the best time to see grey reef sharks, visit between January and March and witness the arrival of great hammerheads who come to feed on stingrays.

Shark species: Grey reef sharks, great hammerheads

Level: Advanced

Type: Drift

When: January - March for great hammerheads; June - July for grey reef sharks

hammerhead sharks

Gordon Rocks: The Galapagos Archipelago

One of the best dive sites in the Galapagos, Gordon Rocks is sometimes referred to as the 'Washing Machine', and it's easy to see why. Located in a volcanic crater with a sandy bottom, strong currents whip through (hence the name), attracting dozens of scalloped, great and smooth hammerheads into a confined area alongside Galapagos sharks, white tip reef sharks, turtles, barracuda, manta rays, golden rays (the list goes on...).

Shark species: Scalloped, great and smooth hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, white tip reef sharks

Level: Advanced

Type: Strong current

When: June - November

sharks socorro

Roca Partida: San Benedicto, Socorro

To put it simply, Socorro is a shark haven. Located 250-miles south of Baja California in the Pacific Ocean, and therefore only accessible by liveaboard, it's not unusual to see ten different species of shark on a single dive. And one of the best sites for shark action is Roca Partida. Located south of San Benedicto, this solitary lump of rock might not look impressive from above the waves, but below divers will be confronted by scalloped hammerheads, whitetips, silkies and Galapagos sharks.

Shark species: Scalloped hammerheads, silkies, Galapagos sharks, oceanic whitetips, silvertips, tiger sharks, grey reef sharks, hammerheads, whale sharks, thresher sharks

Level: Advanced

Type: Pinnacle

When: November - July

Formigas and Dollabarat: The Azores

Located offshore from Sao Miguel, Formigas and Dollabarat is the shining star of shark diving in Europe. If the sea is calm enough to make the day trip there (The Azores are located in the mid-Atlantic, after all), divers will be treated to blue sharks and shortfin mako sharks as well as mobula rays, big-eyed tunas, barracuda and wahoos.

Shark species: Blue sharks, shortfin mako sharks

Level: Advanced

Type: Open Ocean / Baited

When: July - September

bonnethead shark

Maaya Thila, South Ari Atoll, Maldives

Arguably one of the best dive sites in the Maldives, Maaya Thila is best explored at night. Why? Because that's when all the best predators start to patrol. The site itself is a pinnacle, starting at six metres and reaching a max depth of 30 metres, and as divers navigate around they will be able to witness a feeding frenzy as whitetip reef sharks prey on stingrays. Nurse sharks and guitar sharks can also be spotted in the area. Discover more of the Maldives top dive sites here.

Shark species: Whitetip reef sharks, guitar sharks, nurse sharks

Level: Open water

Type: Pinnacle / Night Dive

When: Year-round

whale shark

Mafia Island, Tanzania

The world's biggest sharks love Mafia Island so much they tend not to leave. This laid-back island off the coast of Tanzania is one of the few places in the world you can find whale sharks year-round - although the best time to see them is between October and February when they come close to shore to feed on incoming plankton from the Rufiji River.

Shark species: Whale shark

Level: Snorkeller +

Type: Open water

When: October - February

tiger sharks

Tiger Beach: Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

The Bahamas is famous for having some of the best shark diving in the world (you can see the full run-down in our Bahamas Shark Diving blog), but diving with tiger sharks reigns king. The tiger sharks are baited in by the feeder as divers position themselves safely behind on the shallow sandy bottom and watch as the action unfolds. Also expect Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks and nurse sharks to join in on the action.

Shark species: Tiger sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks

Level: Open water

Type: Baited

When: November - February

Get in touch with our expert dive team today to plan your epic shark diving holiday.