You know what? So many people rave about the bold, blue skies in Mexico, and even more people rave about the hot and spicy food there…
But the real reason to visit Playa Del Carmen on the Mexican coast is for the adrenaline rush that you get from bull shark diving! Let me tell you, nothing beats it…
Bull sharks don’t breach the water like many other sharks do, so if you want to get up close and personal, the hands-down best way to do so is by scuba diving right down to the ocean floor.
It’s pretty magical in itself, before you even see a bull shark!
And Playa del Carmen is an excellent place for bull shark diving because pregnant female bull sharks are reliably found in the area from about mid-November through to February and March.
All you have to do is sign up for a shark diving tour with a good tour operator, and you can tick off one more amazing experience on your bucket list!
Of course, the experience you get will pretty much depend on what tour operator you go with, so to that end, this article is going to review 5 of the best tour operators out there running this sort of excursion in Playa del Carmen.
Then we’re gonna top that off with a handy buying guide that walks you through the key points to consider when choosing a tour.
Here goes…(not listed in any particular order)
Now, this tour operator has earned a whopping full 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, which in our review, speaks volumes about its quality and the whole experience.
They run their bull shark tours between December the 1st, right the way through to 20th March, starting from Coco Beach, Playa del Carmen.
You get to dive up to a whopping 80 feet deep (i.e. 25 meters), right down to the sandy bottom. Usually, during this period, there will be between 2 and 10 female bull sharks in the area, casually minding their own business.
This excursion is only for experienced divers, however, specifically those with PADI Advanced open water diving certification, with at least 25 logged dives, so please bring evidence of your certification with you when you arrive.
The rules are understandably strict. You are there merely to observe, and the feeding etc. of the bull sharks is not permitted.
Information about the behavior of the bull sharks and the tour’s security protocols are explained before the dive.
The tour guidance is available in multiple languages, including English. You must listen to the brief and follow the dive plan.
You will need to bring your own swimwear, and a dark full wetsuit is required. But you don’t need to worry about bringing the scuba equipment, you can pick up a complete kit to rent for a small fee.
Speaking of fees, the cost of the excursion is well worth the money. But the tour operator occasionally allows significant discounts for those who order online. A modest deposit is required.
Dune Mexico Blue Dream is even more popular on TripAdvisor than Eco Tours, earning a 5-star rating even after well over 1000 individual reviews.
What’s more, their bull shark diving excursion is very competitively priced, as far as listing price is concerned.
Their excursion starts relatively early in the year, at the 15th of November, and runs through to the 28th February.
It is for experienced divers only, who are either AOWD or OWD certified, and have over 30 dives logged.
There are two boat divers included altogether, one with the bull sharks, and a bonus one on the reef.
You will be accompanied by a professional certified scuba diving instructor, who also happens to be multilingual.
Please click on the link provided for what you need to bring. Rest assured, however, that the diving equipment is available for you to rent at a minimal fee.
You can also book a photo shoot with your dive and arrange transport to and from your hotel.
Although K & K Diving doesn’t have quite as many reviews on Tripadvisor as the other tour operators, the reviews are incredibly positive, and it has a full 5-star rating.
This tour lasts the full afternoon, and you get to find out all about the bull sharks’ habitat, reproductive behavior, and its ability to live in different types of water.
They have an enthusiastic tour guide and marine biologist, who is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
There is nothing on their website to suggest that you need to be a certified scuba diver in order to take part, though I would be surprised if they let you take part without any prior diving experience.
There are two dives altogether, one shark one and one reef one. You will have to pay a little extra to rent the equipment, and you can also pay extra for photos and videos.
You can also arrange transportation to and from your hotel.
Phantom Divers has earned a 4 and a half star rating on TripAdvisor, which is pretty good.
And this tour operator offers a range of different bull shark related excursions. They are as follows: Bull Shark Encounter, Bull Shark Encounter + Reef, Bull Shark Discovery, PADI Shark Observer Certification.
With the Bull Shark Encounter, you dive 80 feet down to their aquatic habitat, but are required to remain in place for the duration.
But with the Bull Shark Discovery excursion, you drift for 45 minutes at 60 feet, to an area where the sharks are attracted, and you have the chance to take pictures.
All of the excursions are competitively priced, but the renting of equipment comes at an additional fee.
Scuba 10 has also earned a whopping 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. And this seems to be due to more than just the bargain price tag…
You get a full 4-hour tour, diving to a depth of 80 feet, and you get to spend between 40 and 50 minutes on the bottom.
In order to meet the requirements for the dive, you need to have Open Water Diver certification (or the equivalent), although there is no minimum number of dives logged.
The star feature of this tour operator has to be how it’s a proud member of Playa del Carmen’s first Shark Protection Association, which is dedicated to ensuring the protection of our bull shark population.
So you can be assured that any money raised through their tours goes to a good cause, protecting the local aquatic wildlife, and bulls sharks in particular.
As promised, here’s your buying guide. Let me walk you through the key points to consider when choosing a bull shark diving excursion in Playa del Carmen…
Length Of Time On The Ocean Floor
Even though the bull shark season in Playa del Carmen is well known and documented, the tour operators can’t necessarily guarantee that there’s going to be a bull shark right where you’re heading.
So the longer you have in the ocean, the better chance you’ll have of getting up close and personal with a bull shark.
Level Of Swimming And Diving Ability Required
First off, we only recommend going bull shark diving to those of you who can actually swim. No-one else on the excursion wants to have their fun ruined by having to save your ass.
Sometimes a tour operator for this type of excursion will require the participants to be seasoned, experienced divers. So if you aren’t an experienced diver, you can be excluded from the excursion.
So be sure to check the level of swimming and diving ability required before you book.
Bull sharks do not typically eat humans. However, they have been known to inadvertently attack humans.
But, I’m pretty sure you’ll feel a lot more comfortable bull shark diving if you have someone experienced with you who knows what they are doing and knows how to avoid provoking the shark.
Trip Advisor Rating
We’re so lucky we live in an age where you can see literally hundreds of genuine customer reviews on tour operators before you decide which one you’re going to go with.
You can use them to gauge the quality of the excursion and provider, see how the trip went for others, and see what the potential drawbacks there may be.
You should totally take advantage of this. Where possible, we provided the Trip Advisor rating in our reviews, so you can make a judgment call on them based on that and feel secure in your decision.
Cost & Value For Money
We don’t include any prices in our tour reviews in case they change.
But we have noticed that prices can vary significantly between different tour operators, with some charging under $100 per session, while others are prepared to charge considerably more.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that you check prices of excursions as you go along, using the links we provided.