Shark Dive Roatan fans on the Shark Dive Roatan. fans on the Shark Dive Roatan.

Diving with Sharks in Roatan

I finally made the plunge.  After years of hearing about the shark dive I decided to see it for myself.  Over the past 15 years I have dived with a few sharks.  Some hammerheads in Baja,  a tiger shark in the Red Sea, Caribbean reef sharks in Belize and the Bahamas, and of course snorkeling with whale sharks.  It was always amazing and luck of the draw to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.  So I was a bit hesitant to take part in encounters that were for lack of a better word-staged.

The sharks begin to circle!

The sharks begin to circle!  Here is Smiley.

But the time had come to see for myself what the Shark Dive Roatan was all about.  A good friend had just returned from this dive and could not stop talking about it.  So I went to see the owner, Sergio.  A brief history.  Sergio and friend, came to Roatan from Italy over 15 years ago.  They started teaching diving and never left (common story for ex-pats).  As they learned the reefs of Roatan, they began to wonder where all of the sharks were. The best way to find out, ask the fishermen.  So their questioning led them to Cara a Cara, the now famous dive site.  For over 6 months, Sergio began to visit the dive site on a regular basis.  He observed the sharks but they were wary and never stayed around long.  Sergio began to bring a bait bucket to keep them at the site while he scrutinized their actions.  Warily the sharks began to come closer and closer as they realized the divers were not a threat.

Expect close encounters.

Expect close encounters.

Roatan Shark Dive

Nearly a year later, Sergio began Roatan Shark Dive.  Now the dive is one of the most popular on the island, and in the Caribbean.  So here I go.  After a setting up equipment and a thorough briefing, we set off, fully equipped, in a skiff.  Less than ten minutes we arrived at our site.  As briefed, we tied up to a permanent mooring and back rolled into the calm waters. Currents are somewhat common here, however, today there was very little on our descent down the line.  We arranged our small group of 7 in a line  in front of a small wall at 70ft/20m.  The divemaster set up a 5 gallon bucket with small “snack” to bring the sharks close by.  The videographer was on hand to capture the action. The sharks began to circle.  First around the bucket and then over and around our heads.  It was really quite incredible to see their mouths so close.  One had a hook in her mouth (all female sharks–and yes you can see their lack of claspers as they maneuver overhead) and one I will call “Smiley” looked like she had almost been caught as the side of her mouth was ripped into a upturned grin.  We knelt, observing for nearly 20 minutes, when the divemaster took the lid off of the bucket and the sharks plunged and began to attack the snack inside.  The frenzy lasted about 2 minutes and then the sharks slowly started to dissipate.  We were given the signal to come away from the wall and swim freely among the animals that remained.  The sharks made their circles bigger but were still very close compared to other shark encounters I have witnessed.  A large grouper hung around for scraps and ducked in and out of divers legs and bodies.  We searched for shark teeth in the small area where the bucket had been and almost everyone came away with a shark tooth.

Perfect souvenir!

Perfect souvenir!

The divemaster signaled for ascent and the mandatory 3 minute safety stop on the mooring line.  As our group hung out at 15ft/3m everyone had a grin on their face–just like Smiley. Overall a phenomenal experience which will be hard to beat anywhere in the Caribbean.  A perfect encounter for shark enthusiasts and those who might be a bit hesitant.  To book contact the dive shop of your choice and let them know you wish to do the Shark Dive.  All dive operators in the Bay Islands work in conjunction with Sergio to provide all clients with an experience of a lifetime.

Roatan Shark Dive Video

More about Roatan Diving

More about Roatan   •  More about the Bay Islands

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