Are you looking for the best places to dive with hammerhead sharks?
Diving with hammerhead sharks is one of the ultimate scuba diving experiences. You’ll never forget the first time you come face to face with this bizarre creature. They look like something out of a science fiction movie.
To see one is impressive, to see swarms of them cruising around you is absolutely breathtaking!
These incredible animals can be enjoyed by divers in a number of locations around the world. They are known to gather in larger numbers at certain times of year, increasing the chances of exceptional encounters.
Enjoy the Best Places to Dive with Hammerhead Sharks.
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All about Hammerhead sharks
Hammerhead sharks are one of the most evocative animals in our seas. Their extraordinary shape and movement beguile any diver fortunate enough to share the same patch of ocean.
Many hammerhead sharks live in warm waters fairly close to shore, although most of them are not considered much danger to humans.
Hammerhead sharks are unmistakable—they have a unique hammer- or shovel-shaped head. There are 9 different types of Hammerheads (listed below), but they all share the same distinguishing hammer-shaped head.
The extraordinary flattened shape of their heads, known as the cephalofoil, is believed to be linked to enhanced vision and sensory perception. They use their crazy-shaped head as a hunting tool; with eyes on either end of their head it means they can actually see better than most sharks, improving their ability to find prey. They have many sensors along the width of their head that send out electrical charges to locate prey even buried underneath the sand.
Unfortunately, many species of Hammerhead Sharks are at a high risk of extinction. Hammerhead fins are considered a delicacy in many countries. Fisherman can sell these fins for very high prices, so many times a Hammerhead is captures, has its fins removed, then is dumped back into the Ocean. Of course, without fins, the shark is unable to swim and subsequently dies. Humans are the #1 threat to all species of Hammerhead Sharks.
The Squat-headed, Scalloped Hammerhead and the Great Hammerhead sharks are on the endangered species list. Extreme care should be taken in the preservation and conservation of this shark and its environment.
Believe it or not, the Hammerhead has the ability to sport a nice tan! They are one of very few animals who tan from the sun. This happens to the shark because Hammerheads are often cruising in shallow water or near the surface for extended periods of time.
Types of Hammerhead sharks
Here you can learn about the 9 species of hammerhead sharks:
1. Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran)
The great hammerhead shark is the largest of the 9 species of hammerhead sharks. They can reach up to 20 feet in length, but their average length is about 12 feet. They have a grayish-brown to light gray back and white underside.
They can be distinguished from other hammerheads by their large “hammer,” which has a notch in the middle.
Great hammerhead sharks live in warm temperate and tropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They can also be found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas and Arabian Gulf. Hammerhead sharks are generally not dangerous to humans, but great hammerheads should be avoided due to their size.
Great hammerheads are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List due to their slow reproduction rate, high bycatch mortality and harvest in shark finning operations. The IUCN encourages implementation of shark finning bans to protect this species.
2. Smooth Hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena)
The smooth hammerhead is another large shark that can grow to about 13 feet (4 meters) in length. They have a large “hammer” head but without a notch in its center.
Smooth hammerheads are a widely distributed hammerhead shark—they may be found as far north as Canada and along the U.S. coast down to the Caribbean and off the coasts of California and Hawaii.
3. Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)
The scalloped hammerhead can also reach lengths of more than 13 feet (4 meters). This species’ head has narrow blades, and the outer edge has a notch in the center and indentations resembling the shell of some scallops.
Scalloped Hammerheads are widely distributed. They are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Uruguay; in the eastern Atlantic from the Mediterranean Sea to Namibia; in the Pacific Ocean from Southern California to South America and off of Hawaii; in the Red Sea; the Indian Ocean; and the western Pacific Ocean from Japan down to Australia.
4. Scalloped Bonnethead (Sphyrna corona)
The Scalloped Bonnethead or mallethead shark is a small shark that reaches maximum lengths of about 3 feet (1 meter).
Scalloped Bonnethead sharks have a head that is more rounded than some other hammerheads and is shaped more like a mallet than a hammer. These sharks are not well known and are found in a fairly small range, specifically in the eastern Pacific from Mexico to Peru.
5. Winghead Shark (Eusphyra blochii)
The winghead shark, or slender hammerhead, has a very large, wing-shaped head with narrow blades. These sharks are medium-sized, with maximum lengths of about 6 feet (1.8 meters).
Winghead sharks are found in shallow, tropical waters in the Indo-West Pacific from the Persian Gulf to the Philippines, and from China to Australia.
6. Scoophead Shark (Sphyrna media)
The Scoophead shark has a broad, mallet-shaped head with shallow indentations. These sharks can grow to a maximum length of about 5 feet (1.5 meters).
Little is known about the biology and behaviour of these sharks, which are found in the eastern Pacific from the Gulf of California to Peru and in the western Atlantic Ocean from Panama to Brazil.
7. Bonnethead Shark (Sphyrna tiburo)
Bonnethead sharks are about the same size as Scoophead sharks—they can reach a maximum length of about 5 feet (1.5 meters).
The bonnethead has a shovel-shaped head with a smooth edge. The head shape of the bonnethead may help it more easily find prey. A 2009 study found that bonnethead sharks have a nearly 360-degree vision and excellent depth perception!
These are social sharks that are most often found in groups numbering from 3 up to 15 sharks.
Bonnethead sharks are found in subtropical waters in the Western Atlantic Ocean from South Carolina to Brazil, in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and in the Eastern Pacific Ocean from southern California to Ecuador.
8. Smalleye Hammerhead (Sphyrna tudes)
Smalleye hammerhead sharks also reach a maximum length of about 5 feet (1.5 meters). They have a broad, arched, mallet-shaped head with a deep indentation in its center. Smalleye hammerheads are found off the eastern coast of South America.
9. Whitefin Hammerhead (Sphyrna couardi)
Whitefin hammerheads are a large hammerhead that can reach a maximum length of more than 9 feet (2.7 meters). Whitefin hammerheads have a broad head with narrow blades. These sharks are found in tropical waters in the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa.
Diving with Hammerhead sharks
After hearing the statement, “I want to go swimming with sharks,” most people’s first reaction would be “Are you crazy?!”
While it is true that any brave-heart who decides to dive alongside the monster from Jaws should be on their guard, it is still very possible to go diving with a shark and live to tell the tale. And talk about an adrenaline rush!
If you are someone who is seriously considering an underwater experience with one of the world’s most famous predators, read further to find the best places to dive with Hammerhead sharks.
Hammerheads are not aggressive and aren’t considered dangerous to humans. Although the sheer size and predatory nature of the Great Hammerhead means caution should always be taken when diving with these prehistoric giants.
There are very few attacks on record, but you should never rule it out, especially in remote diving areas. Attacks on humans are extremely rare: only 3 of the 9 Hammerhead species (Great, Scalloped, and Smooth Hammerheads) have ever attacked a human. The vast majority of the time, these sharks are safe for divers in open waters.
Hammerheads give warning signals before attacking, such as a series of wild contortions. Trained divers will know these signs and how to deal with an agitated Hammerhead Shark.
Best Places to dive with Hammerhead Sharks
Of the 9 species of hammerhead shark, it is schools of Scalloped Hammerheads and the impressive Great Hammerheads that provide the greatest allure for divers.
Have a look at Best Places to Dive with Hammerhead Sharks:
1. Bimini, Bahamas
Bahamas and the Keys during the summer are good for hammers. With over 40 shark species, the Bahamas has the greatest biodiversity in the world and one of the largest populations.
This makes the island state one of the best shark spots for researchers, conservationists and hobby divers.
The Bahamas earn more than 110 million US dollars annually with shark tourism. The government has recognized the value of sharks as a tourist attraction and is making efforts to protect them, but also to market them in an effective advertising manner.
When to go
- Hammerheads are found all year at the Bahamas
- Peak: December to February
2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Pacific Shark Corridor also called “The Hammerhead Triangle”: the Galapagos Islands, Malpelo Island, and Cocos Island.
These three locations are known as the hammerhead triangle and are absolutely the best place to dive with hundreds of hammerhead sharks.
You can only reach these dives on a liveaboard so be prepared to pay quite a bit for the privilege of experiencing the world’s best hammerhead diving places.
When to go
- December to May
3. Cocos Islands, Costa Rica
Isla de Cocos – Cocos Island or as the island is often called: “Mountain of the sharks”. Almost everyone knows this tropical island in the Pacific Ocean as a superlative spot for big fish.
Cocos Island is located about 36 hours by boat off the coast of Costa Rica and was declared a National Park in 1978 and a “Unesco World Natural Heritage Site” in 1997.
Since 2001 the waters within a radius of 12 nautical miles (22 km) belong to the protected area of the Cocos Island National Park. In contrast to Malpelo Island, Cocos is beautiful and wild.
The volcanic origin and the associated nutrient-rich soil have created a unique nature and diversity. Deep canyons and steep mountains and the waterfalls plunging vertically into the sea are reminiscent of the movie “Jurassic Park”.
On the island 70 endemic plant species and 3 endemic bird species have been recorded, such as the Coco Island Cuckoo or the Coco Finch. Rats and wild pigs were left over from former attempts to colonize the island.
When to go
- May to September
4. Layang Layang, Malaysia
With a circumference of 21 km, the atoll is more than three times as large as the reef around Sipadan. Especially in the months from March to May Layang Layang is one of the most spectacular dive sites in the world.
During this time large schools of hammerhead sharks come to the drop offs at the eastern tip of the atoll. Sometimes you can see over 100 of these fascinating animals. But also orcas, pilot whales, thresher-tail sharks and manta rays are regularly sighted here.
When to go
- March to May
5. Rasdhoo Atoll In The Ari Atoll, Maldives
The tiny, ring-shaped Rasdu Atoll or Rasdhoo Atoll is administratively part of the North Ari Atoll, from which it begins only seven kilometres away.
It can therefore happen that the hotel complexes in Rasdu Atoll, such as the Kuramathi Island Resort, are counted as Ari Atoll or North Ari Atoll by various tourism providers.
The best place in the country is around the Rasdhoo Atoll, accessible by liveaboard travelling between South Male and Ari Atoll and it’s the highlight of any liveaboard trip.
The site is accessible all year round, but the best time for hammerheads is December to April.
When to go
- December to April
6. Rangiroa, French Polynesia
The Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa is a hotspot for hammerhead shark diving and this atoll channel is washed by a very strong current during the incoming tide.
Hundreds of grey reef & big hammerhead sharks, dolphins and manta rays…no wish is left unfulfilled here. Also encounters with lemon and tiger sharks are more the rule. But also the lovers of corals and smaller fish will get their money’s worth, because the reefs are among the most intact in the world.
When to go
- January and February
7. Malpelo Island, Columbia
Some call it the shark diving capital of the world. The best hammerhead shark dive sites at Malpelo include The Twins pinnacles, The Freezer wall dive and La Gringa.
Malpelo belongs to Colombia and has been served exclusively from Colombia since 2018. The journey by boat from Buenaventura takes between 30 and 38 hours depending on the boat and sea conditions.
Hammerhead sharks are actually generally part of the standard program and can be observed again and again in small groups from a few animals to huge schools. In the southern part of the island we have generally seen the largest schools.
One reads a lot about the best time to observe big schools. In December we could see huge schools migrating into the island with falling water temperatures. But there is no fixed rule and also at other times we were surprised.
When to go
- Peak: December
- Hammerheads can be seen all year round
8. Daedalus Reef, Egypt
Daedalus Reef is home to hammerhead sharks, several species of mackerel, tuna, moray eels and dwarf perch. The dive site goes down to depths of 5 to 40 meters, which is good for intermediate level divers, as long as they can handle the strong currents.
The diving area around the reef is especially known for its abundance of big fish. Due to the exposed location on the high seas, large schools of sharks (white tips, grey reef sharks, hammerheads, thresher sharks) can often be seen here. Legendary is also the mighty Napoleon on the west side. Special “shark light”, however, are the hammerheads, dozens of which can be seen here on a good day.
When to go
- June to September
9. Socorro Island, Mexico
Real shark diving is offered southwest of Cabo San Lucas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far away from any civilization.
In Mexican the island quartet is really a tongue twister: Islas Revillagigedo. Simpler and better known are the volcanic islands under Soccoro Islands and many like to speak of the “Mexican Galapagos”. The quality addition is really not exaggerated, because they are a similar big fishing area. Apart from that the comparison limps enormously, because there is nothing offered on land.
When to go
- April to June
10. Alphonse Island, Seychelles
Those who talk about the Seychelles usually mean the Inner Islands, to which also the three main islands Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and many other smaller ones belong.
The Outer Islands are uninhabited, apart from the staff of a few conservation organisations and accommodation facilities. These islands and atolls are located 250 to 1150 km from Mahé. They are all of coral origin.
The Aldabra Atoll is also part of the Outer Islands. It is – next to the Vallée de Mai on Praslin – one of the two Unesco World Natural Heritage Sites in the Seychelles and is strictly protected.
When to go
- March to May and October to December
Summary on the Best Places to Dive with Hammerhead Sharks
Hammerhead sharks have all-round visibility and particularly good depth perception thanks to their unusual head shape.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and the University of Hawaii in Manoa have discovered this in comparative experiments.