Here it is: your definitive list of the world’s best marine life aggregations. No matter what you want to see — from mantas to dolphins, here’s where you need to dive and when.

“I want to go diving and I want to see big things – lots of them.” Sound familiar? Nothing is as thrilling underwater as encountering a whale or shark on a dive. Nothing, that is, unless it’s encountering tens or even hundreds of them at once. Here we’ve created the ultimate dive-destination list to help fulfill your big-species bucket lists. The world’s best marine life aggregations range from hundreds of hammerheads to dozens of dolphins. And while the list below contains the areas where you’re most likely to find these creatures, they are wild animals and their location at any particular time can vary, so do your research before buying that plane ticket. Happy hunting!

 

 

Sharks

Manta rays

Dolphins

Whales

Whale sharks

Australia

Western and Southern Australia: great whites

When: April to August

Exmouth, Western Australia and Byron Bay, NSW

When: May to Nov. in Exmouth and Dec. to March

 

Hervey Bay, Queensland: humpback whales

When: July to Nov.

Great Barrier Reef: dwarf minke whales

When:  and JuneJuly

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

When: March to August

Azores

Bottlenose, common, Risso’s, Atlantic spotted and striped dolphin

When: year-round, especially May to September

Sperm whales year-round;

blue and fin whales mid-March to mid-June.

sei whales mid-March to mid-July;

pilot whales mid-April to October

Bahamas

Tiger sharks May to July; great hammerheads Dec. to February; reef sharks year-round; bull sharks February and March; and oceanic whitetips between March and June  

Seven different species of dolphin live in Bimini and Grand Bahama year-round

 

 

Bimini and Grand Bahama: sperm whales from Dec. to Feb.

humpback whales from Dec. to March

 

Belize

Ambergris Caye’s Hol Chan Marine Reserve: nurse sharks

Year-round

Ambergris Caye from April to June

Sapodilla Cayes from March to June

Colombia, Panama

Malpelo Island: January to March large schools of

hammerheads and silky sharks

Costa Rica

Cocos Island: hammerheads and whitetip reef sharks

When: Year- round with hammerheads in larger numbers from June to November.

Cuba

Gardens of the Queen: silky sharks and Caribbean reef sharks year- round Gardens of the Queen from July to November

Dominica

Sperm whales

When: year-round, especially Nov. to March

Ecuador

Galapagos: hammerheads, silky sharks and Galapagos sharks

When: year-round in varying numbers

Isla de la Plata

When: July to Sept.

Galapagos

When: Dec. to May

Galapagos, especially Wolf and Darwin Islands: Bottle nose dolphins.

When: Year round.

 

 

Galapagos: Humpback whales.

When: June to October.

Galapagos: Especially Darwin Island

When: June to November

Fiji

Beqa in Viti Levu: Bull sharks

When: July to September

 

Yasawas, Kadavu, Namena Marine Reserve, Wakaya and Taveuni

When: year-round

French Polynesia

Tahiti: hammerheads

When: Dec. to March

Ranginoa: hammerheads

When: January to March

Reef sharks, whitetips and blacktips year-round

Tahiti

When: June to October

Ranginoa

When: July to Sept.

Tahiti: Humpbacks

When: July to Nov.

Indonesia

Raja Ampat: Wobbegong sharks

When: Year- round

Komodo, Flores, Bali, Raja Ampat

When: year-round

Cenderawasih Bay

When: year -round

Maldives

Gray and whitetip reef sharks

When: May to November

Baa Atoll and Ari Atoll

When: February to November

South Ari Atoll

When: February to November

Male Atoll

When: May to November

Mexico

Socorro: hammerheads

When: November to January and April to May

Socorro

When: November to January and April to May

 

 

Socorro: Bottlenose dolphins

When: year-round but especially April and May

Baja California: Gray whales

When: mid- January to mid-March

Socorro: humpback whales

When: December through March

Yucatán Peninsula

When: June through mid-September

Baja Peninsula

When: October to February

Socorro

When: April to June

Micronesia

Yap: Blacktip reef sharks

When: mid-May to mid-August

Palau: Oceanic whitetips, black tips, whitetips, bull sharks and hammerheads year-round

Yap

When: December to April

 

Palau

When: December to March

 

Palau

When: January to April

Mozambique

Ponta do Ouro: Bull sharks

When: November to mid- May

Hammerheads, oceanic whitetips, white and blacktip reef sharks, tiger sharks and reef sharks

When: November to April

Tofo Beach: white and black tips year-round

Tofo and Zavora 

When: year-round

Humpback whales

When: June to Nov.

 

Tofo Beach

When: October to March

New Zealand

Species include Māui, Hector’s dolphin, bottlenose, dusky, and common dolphins.

North Island: Bottlenose April to January

Common dolphins March to June and October to April

Kaikoura: sperm whales year-round

North Island:

Orcas April to October

Bryde’s whales May to July

 

Norway

Lofoten Islands: orcas

When: snorkeling from late December through mid-Feb.

Philippines

Malapascua:

Thresher sharks year-round and hammerheads in April

Malapascua:

When: December to May and September

Donsol Bay

When: January to February

Red Sea

The Brothers Islands and Elphinstone Reef: hammerheads and oceanic whitetips May to June

Thresher sharks November to January

Marsa Alam, Egypt

Eight species in total

Samadai for spinner dolphins

Shaab el Erg for bottlenose dolphins

Between Tiran and the Sinai mainland for Risso’s dolphins

When: year-round

 

South Africa

Aliwal Shoal: Tiger sharks

When: mid-January to May

Cape Town: blue sharks

When: November to June

Cape Town: Great whites

When: April to October

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottlenose, common and humpback dolphins

When: year-round

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermanus: Southern right whales

When: June to Nov.

Cape Town: humpback whales

When: August to November

Aliwal Shoal: humpback whales

When: July and August

Sodwana Bay: humpback whales

When: June to mid-October

 

 

 

Sodwana bay

When: December to March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanzania

Mafia Island

When: Nov. to Jan.

Thailand

Similan Islands: whitetips, blacktips and leopard sharks

When: year- round

Koh Bon

When: November to April

Similan Islands

When: mid- October to mid-May.

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang

When: February to April

Koh Tao

When: mid- March to mid- June

Koh Phi Phi

When: January to April

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang

When: February to April

Tonga

Humpback whales

between July and October

U.K. and Ireland

Connemara coast, Ireland: Blue sharks

When: mid-June through Sept.

 

Oban and Inner Hebrides, U.K: Basking sharks

When: mid-May to August

 

Plymouth, U.K.: Basking sharks

When: June-July

Common and striped dolphins common year-round

Oban and Inner Hebrides, U.K.: minke whales

When: July through mid-August.

 

 

 

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