The Best Shark Diving Spot You Don’t Know About
So, you want to go Shark Diving? I bet you never thought you could go SCUBA diving with sharks in Florida (Disney World does NOT count)!
One of the most incredible places for shark diving is not the Fl Keys, or Disney World but in the small town of Jupiter, Florida.
The southeast coast of Florida has deep, typically clear waters with terrific visibility. Additionally, an abundance of different shark species lives and/or migrates throughout the east coast of FL.
This is a life-changing experience for any SCUBA diver!
It took me seven years to build up the courage to go shark diving.
I now go several times a year and regret that I didn’t try it out sooner.
Intro to Shark Diving
Real-life sharks aren’t as scary as Hollywood movie sharks.
In fact, over 90% of the 500+/- shark species are smaller than 5 feet.
Shark diving or snorkeling is a popular tourist activity in many parts of the world.
Some Common places to SCUBA with sharks are Australia, Bahamas, Hawaii, and South Africa.
There’s something about being in the water with these 400-million-year-old animals that is both exhilarating and fascinating.
Shark dives are often done using a steel cage for protection. However, this article is about shark diving without a cage.
“Non-cage” shark diving requires a little more preparation than your average SCUBA dive – but it is worth it.
What to Expect When Shark Diving (Without a Cage)
Shark diving usually takes place in deeper water, so you need to be comfortable with diving between 60 – 100 feet.
Because of the depth and the potential for strong currents (especially on the east coast of FL), shark dives are typically only recommended for experienced SCUBA divers.
Shark dives typically last 30-60 minutes each.
You may need to purchase some specialized gear for shark diving.
Is Shark Diving Safe?
Sharks are wild animals. Although shark dives are typically safe, there is always a small risk involved.
In my diving experience, sharks want nothing to do with us. They are easily scared off & will quickly turn and swim away.
Once, I paid $200.00 to go on a special bull shark dive in Costa Rica.
The sharks got scared off by our SCUBA bubbles. Didn’t see one dang shark bull or otherwise, except maybe a few distant shadows.
We are not a part of the ocean food web. In general, sharks do not like the taste of us.
Typically, they will go in for an exploratory bite and then leave when they realize we are not a tasty seal or sea turtle.
Therefore, so few human deaths are caused by sharks worldwide (usually less than 12 a year).
Surfers are a shark target. Floating on the top of the water, with arms and legs dangling off the sides of surfboards – from a shark’s perspective – mimics the shape of a seal or sea turtle.
SCUBA divers that spearfish can also have more frequent shark encounters.
Sharks are opportunistic & intelligent. They understand the sound of a speargun going off and will swim over to see if they can get a free meal.
Recommendations for Finding a Reputable Dive Operation
Choose a dive shop that is known for emphasizing safety over profit. For example, not allowing beginner divers (that typically lack buoyancy control) to go shark diving with their operation.
Call a few local dive shops and ask for recommendations. If you hear the same name, come up several times, that’s the operator/shop you want to go with.
A good dive operator/shop has safety procedures in place to avoid shark issues in the first place.
More likely – a common SCUBA safety issue to be aware of – is getting separated from the group and becoming lost.
Shark Diving Safety Tips
Don’t wear shiny jewelry or objects that could reflect light and attract sharks.
Wear dark clothing, head cap, fins, and gloves – sharks can see contrasting colors, especially yellow (Hence the SCUBA phrase “yum-yum yellow”),
Stay close to your group.
Don’t touch or harass the sharks.
Stay still and avoid making sudden movements – this will scare off the sharks.
Check your ego. Regardless of your SCUBA experience, listen and follow your dive operator’s instructions.
Don’t get excited and start chasing down the sharks with your camera or GoPro.
You will scare off the sharks and anger the other divers on the boat.
Shark Diving in Jupiter Florida
One of the best places to go shark diving – that most people have never heard of is a small town on the southeast coast of Florida.
Jupiter is located just north of the city of Palm Beach.
There are a wide variety of sharks found in the Jupiter area.
Shark species regularly sighted include nurse, blacktip, reef, lemon, sand tiger, bull, hammerhead, & tiger sharks,
Not typically seen, but even whale sharks and great white sharks are occasionally sighted.
Some shark species migrate through Jupiter at different times of the year, so research this before you go.
May is known for migrating tiger sharks (not to be confused with sand tiger sharks).
A few of these tiger sharks are well known in the area because they migrate here every year.
Jenny is the most famous (and loved) Jupiter tiger shark. She is a social shark and has been showing up at shark dives in the Jupiter area for over a decade.
I did not know it was Jenny swimming into me at the time. Near the end of our last dive, I spotted a shark in the distance.
The shark kept swimming straight at me, like something out of a movie, until she bumped into me and turned. I had no idea this 14-foot shark was Jenny.
I was transfixed like a “deer in the headlights”. My only thought was that is a seriously large shark!
One reason for this variety in shark species is that the water depth close to the FL east coast shoreline can range from 100 feet to 1000 feet. Unlike the shallower gulf coast side of Florida.
Shark Diving with Emerald Charters, Jupiter FL
I always go shark diving with Emerald Charters, in Jupiter Florida.
Their business is based on “word of mouth” referrals.
Emerald specializes in shark diving, and it is the only type of diving they offer.
They use fish to “chum” the water and attract sharks.
The owner (Randy) is a local legend (or character depending on who you talk to) and has been in the shark diving business for decades.
Currently Emerald Charters has two main dive masters. Josh and Liz have years of experience, and both enforce a strict safety policy.
If you don’t follow the boat rules, you don’t dive.
Divers are required to wear all black – this includes dive accessories such as a skull cap, fins, and gloves.
The rules are strict but allow Emerald Charters to offer amazing shark diving trips.
You get to experience these amazing creatures up close and personal!
You may see one shark or 50. I’ve been on at least 9 different shark dives with Emerald and had both experiences.
The sharks show up at different times during the dive as well. Jenny (the tiger shark) showed up at the end of our last dive, right before we were about to return to the boat.
One of my favorite memories was watching a 300 lb. loggerhead turtle scare off 3 sharks to get to the chum bucket (actually a crate).
I love when the lemon sharks show up. They are like a group of puppies and have no respect for personal space!
All Emerald Charters dives follow the same format
The boat leaves from a public pier in Jupiter, parking is available on site.
The fee includes three dives (weather permitting) in open water and/or on a wreck (depends on water conditions).
All divers are required to get in and out of the water as close as possible together.
All divers are required to stay above and behind the divemaster (which can get tricky at times because the divemaster is turning in the water) at all times.
Divers must bring three full tanks of air with them (nitrox preferred) or can rent them from Jupiter Scuba. This company will deliver and pick them up from the boat dock (I do this now, it’s just easier when you have 3-4 divers in a car).
Jupiter Scuba also rents dive gear. Their number is 561-614-4177
Local Food and Lodging Recommendations
I am a budget SCUBA Diver.
However, on the southeast coast of Florida, it can be difficult to find budget hotels.
Know your hotel’s cancellation policy. Dives often get canceled (with short notice) because of bad weather.
I almost always stay at the Super 8 Hotel in North Palm Beach. The address is 757 US 1, North Palm Beach FL. The phone number is (561) 899-6490.
It’s not fancy – but it is clean, in a good location, and has reasonable prices. Their “free” breakfast is still a “covid to go bag” so I bring my own.
However, the biggest benefit this property has to offer is its excellent cancellation policy (24 hours before).
The Draft House restaurant is within walking distance. I eat here almost every time I stay at the Super 8.
Draft House is within walking distance, rarely has a wait, and has good burgers and tacos. Plus, they can accommodate larger groups.
Across the street from Draft House is a Mexican restaurant. I have only eaten there once but the tacos were good.
I prefer to stay at the Jupiter Waterfront Inn, but they book up quicker and have a stricter cancellation policy.
The Jupiter Waterfront Inn address is 18903 Southeast Federal Highway, Jupiter, FL 33469. Their phone number is (561) 747- 9085.
Restaurants in the area can be underwhelming, overpriced, or have long wait times.
For cheap eating, I find a Publix Grocery Store. Publix is a Florida grocery store chain, with a deli that has good quality food.
Almost always, I will search for a nearby Cuban Bakery. They are plentiful in the area.
You can’t go wrong with a Cuban sandwich in Florida. Plus, the coffee and guava pastries are delicious too.
A Few Last Things You Need to Know
So, if you want to see a variety of shark species up close, shark diving in Jupiter Florida is the place for you!
However, it’s important to keep in perspective that you are diving in a natural ocean habitat.
Sharks do not always show up on command.
If I see one shark, I consider my dive a success. Then any more sharks that show up are a bonus. If you keep this in mind you will not be disappointed.
I promise it will be an experience you will never forget!