Dubbed the "Soft Coral Capital of the World" by Jacques Cousteau, Fiji is most famous for its stunning current-swept reefs. But, there's another reason divers flock to Fiji – sharks, and plenty of them! In fact, Fiji's shark diving is fast becoming the country's number one draw for scuba divers. You can expect to encounter up to eight species around the islands, with both baited and natural encounters on offer and some sites delivering guaranteed action all year round.

In this article, we'll walk you through Fiji's most exciting shark species, share top tips for which sites to visit, and when to plan your trip for the best chances of a shark encounter in 2024. Keep reading for all the fintastic details!

A Diver's Guide to Sharks

Everything you need to know about these wonderful creatures in a FREE 50 page guide. Read online or download today!

Tiger shark

Tiger sharks are often see around the Cathedral dive site in Beqa Lagoon
Tiger sharks are often see around the Cathedral dive site in Beqa Lagoon

This powerful predator is, without a doubt, one of the most sought after shark species in Fiji. Tiger sharks are normally solitary, nomadic animals, but in some locations in Fiji, the same individuals are seen again and again. These incredible animals can grow to a whopping five metres in length and weigh in at over a tonne – making them Fiji's most formidable shark species. Tiger sharks are easily identified by the distinctive striped pattern running down their back and sides. These markings are more distinct in juveniles, fading as the shark ages and needs less natural camouflage for hunting and avoiding predators.

Many of the tiger sharks found in Fiji are well documented and known by name, and some, like Scarface, Adi, and Doris have been visiting the same sites around Beqa Island for nearly 20 years!

  • Top dive sites: The Cathedral in Beqa Lagoon where sharks are attracted using bait boxes rather than hand feeding. 
  • Seasonal encounters: Tigers are seen all year round, though not every day.
  • Pro tips: Follow your handler's instructions at all times during your shark feeding dive – this is for your safety and will help prolong encounters. 
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened.

Reef sharks

Reef sharks are the most common type of shark in Fiji
Reef sharks are the most common type of shark in Fiji

The most common shark species seen in Fiji and likely to turn up on baited and unbaited dives throughout the islands. Three species can be seen – blacktip, whitetip, and grey reef sharks. The most outgoing of the three, grey reef sharks, typically turn up during feeding dives but quickly scatter if larger species arrive, like bulls and tigers. Blacktip reef sharks are more reserved, commonly patrolling the reef's edge or venturing over to a bait box once most of the action has died down. Whitetips, however, seem mostly uninterested in divers and their bait boxes. In fact, you're most likely to spot them resting motionless in sand channels and caves, as this species is most active at night.

Reef sharks are small compared to Fiji's more dominant shark species, with only the largest individuals exceeding two metres in length. Reef sharks do sometimes hunt cooperatively in groups, offering an exciting glimpse of rare "feeding frenzy" behaviour. 

  • Top dive sites:  The Great Astrolabe Reef in Kadavu is an ideal site for spotting reef sharks in a natural setting.
  • Seasonal encounters: No matter when you visit, you're nearly guaranteed to spot reef sharks in Fiji.
  • Pro tips: These sharks can be curious and cautious, darting in and out of view often – opt for an action camera to capture their high-speed swimming.
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable / Endangered.

Bull shark

Bull sharks are Fiji's signature species
Bull sharks are Fiji's signature species

Fiji's signature species, bull sharks can reach three metres in length and weigh in at over 200 kilos. They are easily recognised, with a dark grey back and white underbelly, thick bulky body, and short snout. Bull sharks can be seen throughout the islands of Fiji, but your best chances for a close encounter are during fed and baited dives in Beqa Lagoon and in the Yasawa Islands. Here, big females and their smaller male counterparts turn up for a free meal, with the same individuals returning day after day. 

Bull sharks are bold and inquisitive and will come close to divers as they make numerous slow passes at the bait box. Because the sharks here are hand-fed, you'll have an excellent chance at snapping a few pictures with their mouths agape, making their short and slightly upturned snout more pronounced. 

  • Top dive sites: The Arena at Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Beqa Lagoon's most famous site, is the best place to spot big bulls – and lots of them.
  • Seasonal encounters: Although sharks are encountered year round, plan your trip between February and October, as the bull sharks are less frequently seen during mating season from November to January.
  • Pro tips: You'll be kneeling motionless during bull shark feeding dives, so pack an extra layer if you tend to get cold underwater.
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened.

Silvertip shark

Silvertip sharks can also sometimes be spotted in Fiji
Silvertip sharks can also sometimes be spotted in Fiji

Silvertips are seen less frequently than some of Fiji's other large shark species, and you're unlikely to spot one outside of fed and baited experiences. Not to be confused with whitetip reef sharks, these are powerful predators with sleek, muscular bodies and sharp snouts for cutting quickly through the water column. These elegant sharks are confident and inquisitive, sometimes coming quite close to dive groups. And, while they're often the first species to turn up at feedings, they'll likely vanish as soon as Fiji's famous bulls and tigers arrive. 

A few of Fiji's Silvertips are known by name, turning up regularly at The Take Out in Beqa Lagoon. Keep an eye out for Madonna, easily recognised by the black mole on her lip – and Joker, famous for her disfigured jaw. These large females are known for making multiple fast passes at the bait box, delivering awesome, up-close photo ops!

  • Top dive sites: The Take Out in Beqa Lagoon is Fiji's most reliable site for these elusive animals. 
  • Seasonal encounters: Silvertips are seen in the highest numbers between October and February.
  • Pro tips: This shark is bold and curious, often swimming straight toward scuba divers – hold still and wait patiently for the chance to capture an incredible photo.
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable. 

Tawny nurse shark

Tawny nurse sharks are among Fiji's most at-risk species
Tawny nurse sharks are among Fiji's most at-risk species

These placid bottom-dwelling carpet sharks sometimes turn up by the dozen at Fiji's famous shark feedings. Their main food sources are actually crustaceans, octopus, and other small invertebrates like sea urchins, but they will happily take a snack from the feeding box. Tawny nurse sharks are nocturnal, so you're most likely to see them free-swimming around dawn and dusk. During daylight hours, they are seen relaxing in caverns and sand channels, napping peacefully while passing water through their gills. Sometimes they gather in groups in these sheltered areas, creating a ‘puddle’ of cuddling sharks.

Sadly, tawny nurse sharks are among Fiji's most at-risk species. They are often taken by commercial fisheries and considered a prized game fish by anglers, as well. Several of Fiji's shark conservation groups are working to establish an accurate population survey and implement greater protection for this potentially endangered animal. 

  • Top dive sites: While you're guaranteed to spot these in Beqa Lagoon, Taveuni's Somosomo Strait also offers great chances in a natural setting.
  • Seasonal encounters: Tawny nurse sharks are common year round.
  • Pro tips: This is a nocturnal species, most commonly seen free swimming around dawn and dusk.
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable.

Sicklefin lemon shark

Fiji is home to many resident sicklefin lemon sharks
Fiji is home to many resident sicklefin lemon sharks

This large and elongated shark might look intimidating, but it poses no threat to divers despite its inquisitive and outgoing nature. Sicklefin lemon sharks are very curious, sometimes venturing quite close to divers, and they feed on bottom-dwelling animals like stingrays and porcupine fish. Shark feeding events may draw large groups of these sharks in for a closer look, but you'll want to take your pictures quickly, as they'll likely scatter when the region's larger species arrive. 

This is one of Fiji's slowest-moving sharks, making it an ideal subject for photography. Its unique tan colouring and toothy mouth only add to the appeal! Because sicklefin lemon sharks are a resident species, the same individuals are often spotted every day at feedings.

  • Top dive sites: The Bistro at Beqa Lagoon is Fiji's top spot for diving with sicklefin lemon sharks. 
  • Seasonal encounters: The highest number of lemon sharks are seen from October through February.
  • Pro tips: This shark often swims with its mouth open, revealing rows of teeth – try to take pictures from the front to capture this toothy grin.
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable.

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Honourable Mentions

While these famous species are the most frequently spotted, they aren't the only sharks found in Fiji. Other powerful predators aren't as easily lured by feeding and bait boxes, but you still have an excellent chance of an encounter if you choose the right location.

Scalloped hammerhead

Schools of scalloped hammerheads are sometimes seen in the Koro Sea
Schools of scalloped hammerheads are sometimes seen in the Koro Sea

These graceful sharks are entirely uninterested in baited and fed dives. In fact, they're seldom seen on Fiji's reefs, preferring to swim further out in the blue. Scalloped hammerheads are sometimes observed schooling in groups more than 100 strong, especially around Savusavu and remote seamounts in the Koro Sea, including Mt. Mutiny and the legendary site, E-6. Schools are often spotted when divers get a glimpse of their white bellies exposed as they swim on their side. If you’re lucky enough to spot a school of hammerhead sharks, observe them from a distance – this species are notoriously shy, and spooking just one could scare the whole group! 

Leopard shark, or zebra shark

Leopard sharks can be found napping amongst Fiji's coral reefs
Leopard sharks can be found napping amongst Fiji's coral reefs

This docile bottom-dweller is most frequently spotted napping on the reef and in sand channels. However, lucky divers might spot one free-swimming, especially close to dawn or dusk. Sometimes referred to as a zebra shark because of its distinctive striped pattern as a juvenile, this spotted species uses suction to feed, like a nurse shark. Leopard sharks are both timid and nocturnal and easily startled even while sleeping. If you happen to come across one, snap a few photos and watch it from afar – approaching this animal will likely send it swimming away.

Of course, a trip to Fiji is not all about predatory fish, so we've written a separate article on things to do here when you're not diving with sharks.

Need help planning your Fiji diving holiday?

Contact one of our dive travel experts today.

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