Beqa lagoon bull shark dive in Fiji

Ultimate Guide To Diving With Sharks In Fiji – Beqa Lagoon and Barefoot Koata

One of my bucket list dives of the world has to be the bull shark dive in Fiji. I’ve seen it from numerous divers I’ve met traveling and I knew I had to see it for myself when I finally visited the country. I’m here to say that this dive does not disappoint and it was one of the most fascinating and out of this world dives I’ve done. I came to the Beqa Lagoon as part of my two week Fiji trip which was an incredible experience.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

In this post, I will deep dive into how to book your Fiji dive trip, where to do it, safety protocols, ethical matters, and just about everything you need to know to book your own shark dive trip. There’s a lot of things to know so make sure you plan ahead and don’t miss out!

List of my other Fiji Posts

Where to dive with sharks in Fiji

Shark diving in Fiji can be done in two places. The main and most popular destination is at the Beqa Lagoon nearby to the town of Pacific Harbor, 1 hour west of Suva. This is on the mainland of Viti Levu where Nadi and Suva are located. Beqa Lagoon is located between the mainland town of Pacific Harbor and the Beqa Island which you can see from the beach in the distance.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

The second location that bull shark diving is possible is at the Barefoot Koata resort in the Yasawa islands. This dive is less popular as it is more out of the way but you will still see ample amounts of sharks.

For the purpose of this post, I will focus primarily on the shark dive in Beqa Lagoon as that is where I did mind. If you do decide to visit the Yasawa islands and don’t have time for Pacific harbor, I would definitely consider putting the Barefoot Koata resort on your list!

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

Pacific Harbor is located 1h west of Suva and roughly 3 hours by driving from Nadi. It’s a sleepy coastal town with a few resorts and a beautiful long stretch of sandy beach. There isn’t much to do in this town besides dive with the sharks which is why I only stayed 2 nights. I heard the diving here is also pretty good but there’s no way it compares to the diving at the Rainbow Reef in Taveuni which is where I was headed next.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

Diving the bull sharks in Pacific Harbor from Nadi

Some people even stayed in Nadi and chose to drive 3 hours in the morning to make it for the dive. A roundtrip transfer to Pacific Harbor from Nadi will run you something like 400 FJD and you’ll need to leave at 5am to make it in time.

Because it leaves early in the morning, it’s not possible to do this by the bus system from Nadi to Suva.

Video of the Fiji Shark Dive

There will be lots and lots of photos on this post but nothing quite describes the whole experience as a video. So here is one short video which is absolute insanity. The rest, you can see on my Instagram account!

What type of sharks do you see while diving in Fiji

There are a total of 7 species of sharks that can be seen on the famous shark dive at the Beqa Lagoon. These species include:

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji
  1. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas): Bull sharks are often the main attraction of the Beqa Lagoon shark dive due to their presence in the area. They are known for their adaptability to both saltwater and freshwater environments.
  2. Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier): Tiger sharks are another species commonly encountered during the dive. They are easily recognizable by their distinctive markings and are known for their curious and inquisitive behavior.
  3. Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum): Nurse sharks are also seen in the area. They are generally slow-moving and docile, making them safe to observe up close.
  4. Silvertip Shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus): Silvertip sharks are known for their distinctive silver-tipped dorsal fins. They are commonly found in the Pacific Ocean and are known to frequent deeper waters.
  5. Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris): Lemon sharks are typically found in warm coastal waters. They have a yellowish hue, which gives them their name.
  6. Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos): Grey reef sharks are often seen in the vicinity. They are commonly found around coral reefs and are known for their slender bodies and grey coloring.
  7. Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus): Blacktip reef sharks are named for the black tips on their dorsal fins. They are commonly found in shallow waters around coral reefs.

Tiger sharks are the big dogs of the ocean and they are not frequent visitors to the Beqa Lagoon. They are larger than the bull sharks and the bull sharks all make space when one does show up. Unfortunately, there was no tiger shark sightings on my dive. Tigers are all purely based on chance so if you get lucky, you’ll see one of these magnificent sharks!

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

Just make sure you don’t end up like the diver from Malaysia who had his head in the mouth of a tiger shark in this very dive spot!

How much does the Fiji shark diving cost?

Shark diving in Fiji and at the Beqa Lagoon is not a cheap activity. As you’d expect, this is a special, bucket list type of dive so expect to pay more than your standard dive. The added fees make sense as the money also goes towards conservation of the marine park and to additional divemasters who are there to ensure the safety of divers by wielding underwater metal rods.

I dove with Beqa Adventure Divers but the price is similar between the three dive shops that operate this trip.

For the day trip which included 2 dives, snack on the boat, all gear rental, transfers to and from our hotel, marine park fees, the cost was 510 FJD per person. (~$220 USD). If you have your own gear (which have to be full body wetsuit and no white fins/mask), you can save 60 FJD so the price will be 450 FJD. Like I said, this price is steep, but it is a once in a life time type of dive. It’s still cheaper than the dives in Iceland to dive the tectonic plates.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

Is it ethical to dive with sharks in Fiji?

If you’re an experienced diver, you might be asking yourself is diving with sharks an ethical experience? I asked myself this question over and over again before and after the dive. I’ll give my experience and opinions on the matter so you can better decide for yourself. I think for shark diving in Fiji, there is no easy and clear answer so seeing both sides of the argument is key.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

Arguments against shark diving

All shark diving operations in Fiji feed the sharks. Sometimes, this is a person literally hand feeding a piece of tuna into the sharks mouths. This is the only way to actually attract the insane amounts of sharks you see in all the videos and photos online. Sharks, and especially the famous bull sharks, are lone wolf type predators that you would never see with swarms of other fish. They would never come together in the fish tornadoes you see at the Beqa lagoon shark dives.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

There’s nothing inherently wrong with diving with sharks, these sharks in particular have developed a dependency on human feeding. This dependency has taken away some of the “wild” aspect of these fish as they know they will be fed in the mornings every day of the week.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

I asked some of the crew what happened with the sharks and the shark diving operation during COVID-19 and they said the trips would only go out once a week due to the lack of tourists. This meant the sharks were extra aggressive and hungry when it was time for the dives. I asked them why they didn’t hunt for their food, to which I learned that these fish no longer hunt but rely on humans to bring in the food. In essence, the sharks in Beqa lagoon and other parts of Fiji have become a sort of zoo like animals. While you wouldn’t go into the cage with the lions at a zoo because they are still “wild”, they probably would no longer survive in the wild since they’ve been fed by humans for so long.

There have been examples of humans feeding animals in the wild like bears in national parks which has always resulted in some sort of tragedy. Either these animals become too friendly with humans and end up attacking humans, or they are found and culled as they’ve become too used to humans.

Arguments supporting Shark diving in Fiji

On the positive side of shark diving is the conservation aspect of it. Conservation is at the forefront for all of the dive operations in the country. Companies like Beqa Adventure Divers (which is the company I went with) use the shark diving revenue to create a marine park around the Beqa Lagoon with strictly no fishing. Some of this revenue goes to the local villages to help them sustain themselves instead of fishing in the reefs. This creates an environment where sharks can thrive.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

The truth of the matter is, shark fishing is a billion dollar industry with the majority of shark fins making its way to China or Japan as part of messed up local recipes (like shark fin soup). These sharks are savagely butchered with people cutting off the fins and tossing the shark back into the ocean to die a slow death (sharks can’t navigate and swim without their fins).

It’s estimated that some 100 million sharks are killed a year which is absolutely insane. Without conservation efforts, sharks will slowly disappear. Coupled with the fact that many people have an innate fear of sharks thanks to pop culture, people probably wouldn’t really care if they learned sharks were dying off.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

In the grand scheme of things, will small conservation efforts like the shark diving at the Beqa Lagoon in Fiji actually make a difference? Probably not unfortunately. Nevertheless, it’s better than nothing and as best as we can do in these current times where cash is king.

In my opinion, shark diving in Fiji is one somewhat debatable act of conservation offsetting the unfathomable amounts of human destruction. It’s sad that it’s gotten to this point, but what can you do?

Where to you stay to dive with sharks in Fiji?

I would recommend staying in Pacific Harbor for this dive. As I stayed here for only two nights, I wanted something cheap and comfortable as I knew I wouldn’t be spending any time at the hotel. This is exactly the case as I pretty much only slept there!

There aren’t many options in the area that don’t cost a lot of money as most of Pacific Harbor is geared towards resorts and families. I ended up staying at the Uprising Beach Resort which I thought was an absolute deal. It was way cheaper than the nearby resorts but was directly on a beautiful strip of beach. The rooms were also plenty spacious, comfortable, and mine was directly on the beach which was incredible. I could also walk along the beach into town if I wanted to grab a bite elsewhere. They also have dorm style accommodations for the backpackers traveling on a budget!

There is also an amazing local restaurant nearby to the hotel called Beach Bum Burgers which served delicious fish burgers and curries!

Pacific Harbor beach beqa lagoon fiji
The beach from Uprising Beach Resort. Not bad!

For my shark diving trip, I only spent two nights in the area. If you’re on a limited schedule, I don’t think I would recommend staying here any more than you need to for the shark dive. There are much more beautiful places in Fiji in my opinion and while Pacific Harbor is nice, it doesn’t compare to the other options in Fiji!

Which dive shops dive the bull sharks in Fiji?

There are a few dive shops that do the Beqa Lagoon shark dive. All these shops are located in Pacific Harbor and are all similarly priced. The three dive shops that I found were the following.

  • Beqa Adventure Divers
  • Aqua Trek Divers
  • Coral Coast Divers

I went with Beqa Adventure Divers but after talking to many people at my hotel, it seems like the other shops also do a great job and uphold the same standards.

Beqa Adventure divers fiji shark dive

I believe the three of these dive shops work together to ensure they visit the sharks at different times of the day so there isn’t overcrowding. On my day, we had about 18 divers which is near the upper threshold that Beqa Adventure Divers likes to dive with. I found it to be more than enough people so I couldn’t imagine another shop in its entirety joining in on the fray. These dive shops could just alternate the days they operate but I can’t confirm or deny this!

Beqa Adventure divers fiji shark dive

What to know before diving with the sharks in Fiji?

Here are some of the things you should know before going on this dive. Again, do not do anything stupid and listen to the dive briefings.

  • At least advanced open water diving
  • You cannot wear white as sharks might mistake this for bait
  • You must wear a wetsuit
  • Charge your cameras! You don’t want to waste this dive with a empty camera
  • Listen to the guides!

Is shark diving in Fiji safe?

One of the first things you’re probably asking yourself is the safety of these shark dives. As a diver, we already know that sharks are not the blood thirsty beasts the media likes to portray them to be so I will skip that part altogether.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

As for this specific dive in Fiji, I must say that I found the entire operation to be very trustworthy. Beqa Adventure Divers, as well as the other two dive shops in Pacific Harbor, really know what they’re doing. They’ve done these dives for decades now multiple times a week. The divemasters and instructors here follow a strict safety protocol and do not mess around.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji
Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji
Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

They tell you things like sit still while watching the show, do not extend your arm to take a photo as sharks see this as a sign you’re feeding them, swim slowly, etc. There are also at least one shark handler per 5 divers. These handlers carry metal rods that are used to gently poke sharks that get too close to the group. These guys were always behind the group monitoring the sharks activity.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji

I didn’t feel unsafe at any point and was not scared regardless of these shark handlers but I know they definitely helped the less adrenaline seeking individuals within the group!

Describing the Fiji shark dive in all of its glory

Now time for the good stuff, talking about the shark dive itself! This is an insane dive by all intents and purposes and absolutely blew my mind. I’ve dived all over the world in some of the most amazing parts of the world like Komodo National Park, Raja Ampat, the Maldives, Philippines and more.

The day starts around 8:00am where we arrived at the dive shop to get our equipment set up and waited for other guests to arrive. The boat departs around 9am and arrives at the first dive site around 9:30am.

First shark dive

After a lengthy briefing by the staff on safety procedures, it’s time to head down for the first dive. The first shark dive includes three different stops at three different depths offering different sharks at each stop.

shark diving fiji beqa lagoon

The first stop is at 30 meters which is the main show in my opinion. Before you even get there, the divemasters are already there getting ready with their bait stations to attract the sharks. They’ve changed the way they feed the sharks over the years from straight hand to mouth feeding to nowadays keeping a big distance while suspending tuna heads on a garbage can.

Beqa lagoon shark diving fiji
shark diving fiji beqa lagoon
Check out that garbage can!

It was absolute shark pandemonium at the 30 meter mark as there must have been at least 30 sharks swarming the garbage can. Most of these were huge bull sharks that gracefully slid through the water chomping down on tuna heads. The bull sharks would circle back and forth around the dive site knowing they would be eventually fed. Nurse sharks and lemon sharks also joined in on the fray. This was truly a special sight to behold.

After spending 20 minutes at 30 meters, it was time to shallow up as the deco time was running out. At 15 meters, we went to another part of the dive site which is adorned with the reef sharks. Black tips and white tips were around in big numbers with the occasional bull shark in the mix. I was a bit dazed and confused from what just transpired in the initial dive that I couldn’t even process this new area.

safety stop beqa lagoon fiji shark dive

Finally, our safety stop was done at 5m in front of a coral wall which had countless sharks of all species swimming around. This might have been one of the best safety stops in the world!

We were on our knees for the entire duration of the dive. You do absolutely no swimming besides getting from one station to another.

safety stop beqa lagoon fiji shark dive

Second shark dive

After a 1h surface interval where we all discussed what we had just witnessed, it was time for another time.

The second dive is nearby to the first and offers more of the same. It’s at only 20 meters this time so your bottom times will be longer. The second dive is similar to the 30m section of the first dive. Insane amounts of bull sharks and reef sharks cover your line of sight. I don’t really need to decribe it anymore as you know it will be good.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Fiji Shark dives

Is it Safe to dive with the sharks in Fiji?

As I’ve described int he sections above, it is indeed safe to dive with the sharks. The shops run a tight operation and safety is handled well.

When can you dive with the sharks?

You can dive year round with sharks in Fiji. These sharks are residents at the Beqa Lagoon and stay there year round no matter the seasons. The Fiji dry season is typically between April and November so these are considered the “best times” to visit the country. Note that the dives are canceled when the conditions are too stormy.

Is the Fiji shark diving in a cage?

No. The shark dives are completely 100% cage free. You are diving in the open ocean with these beasts. Expect them to get super close to you to the point where they might even wack you with their tails.

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