no alt text

Bucket list experience:

Bull shark in caribbean sea

Last updated: 13 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Like great whites and tiger sharks, bull sharks have a fearsome reputation. Getting within metres of these apex predators on a carefully controlled dive is astonishing: and in the clear, calm waters off Playa del Carmen, it’s as safe as any such encounter can be.

While bull sharks are present along the Riviera Maya all year round, dives are possible only October through March, when the more placid females enter shallower waters right off the mainland.

To dive you will need an Advanced Open Water Certification. Choose a responsible dive shop, who don’t use bait – which can be dangerous, and who follow strict distance regulations.

Price from: £150
Minimum age: 16
Age suitable: 16+
When: All year around
Duration: 6-8 hours

Getting there & doing it

The closest (and cheapest) departure point is Playa del Carmen; though it’s also possible to leave from Tulum or Cancun. Dives take place at Jardines Deep, less than ten-minutes by boat from Playa.

Choose an experienced dive operator who know these dives well like Ko’ox, who don’t take risks with bait (bull sharks have attacked spear-fishing divers in other locations), who work as a tight group and who use full-length wetsuits and prohibit divers bringing anything bright or flashy (which attracts the sharks).

Divers require a minimum Advanced Open Water certification and should be skill-fresh before this dive. The sharks prefer water around 30 metres deep. There are often strong currents on the descent and ascent and it’s essential the party move as a tight group.

Two tank trips usually comprise a shark dive followed by a more tranquil visit to a nearby reef.

When to do it

Trips run between October and March, with the best chance of seeing the sharks in December and January; try to avoid the wetter months of October and November. Boats depart at dawn, and return mid-afternoon.

Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Ko’ox Diving

Ko’ox Diving

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Responsible, experienced dive operator offering all manner of Mayan Riviera trips from bull shark dives to caves, and open water, cave and free diving training up to instructor level.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Mahekal Beach Resort

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico[2.3 miles]

Beach and jungle casitas with a Tulum-feel set on the beach in a coconut grove a stroll from Playa’s party-central.

Official star rating:

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico[2.5 miles]

This big beachside resort in the heart of Playa del Carmen offers great value stays with a view and five-star amenities. Great for families, with good facilities for kids.

Official star rating:

The Reef 28

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico[2.5 miles]

This adults-only, all inclusive party hotel sits right in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s nightlife district and offers Miami-style comfort a stroll from the beach.

Official star rating:

Thompson Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico[2.8 miles]

Feeling very Miami, this upscale hotel is split between an urban singles hotel in downtown Playa and an intimate balcony-fronted, ocean-view annexe. Adults only.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Mayan Riviera


Talc-white beaches, reefs teeming with life, ruined temples in misty rainforests – the Riviera Maya offers a family or romantic beach holiday with a dash of Indian Jones adventure.

Website >
Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Club

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico[7.9 miles]

Designed by Greg Norman, the course weaves its way through dense jungle, beautiful stretches of white sand and mangrove forests, with cenotes – natural sink holes – providing natural hazards.

Best for ages: 13+ | £125

Website >
Overview >

Xcaret Park

Playa del Carmen, Mexico[8.8 miles]

With glassy pools and shallow lagoons offering dolphin, nurse-shark and manatee swimming, tame jungles, and spectacular Mayan dance shows, this huge eco-theme park is a Maya World, and a snorkel-friendly Disneyland.

Best for ages: 4+ | £80

Round-ups that include this experience