Swimming With Bulls: Shark Diving In Fiji

Shark Diving in Fiji
Descending to Shark Dive in Fiji
Beqa Island, Fiji

Shark diving without a cage. Sounds insane, right? That’s what I thought too. Turns out sharks aren’t the terrifying monsters we think they are.

For millions of years sharks have slowly evolved into nature’s most deadly assassins. Lethal eating machines with razor sharp teeth, lightning-quick speed, and an unquenchable thirst for human blood!

(Ok, I made that last part up.)

But we’ve all seen the movie “Jaws” — and Hollywood doesn’t lie. It’s why thousands of people around the world suffer from Selachophobia. Fear of sharks.

But who can blame them? Why on earth would any rational person swim in the ocean not knowing what man-eating creatures may lurk beneath the waves?

As for those who purposefully seek out the company of sharks — they clearly have a death wish.

Tropical Fish Beqa Fiji
Tropical Fish Beqa Fiji

Seeking The Company Of Sharks

As an adrenaline junkie, my tolerance level these days is high. Luckily Fiji delivered the goods. They have a Shark Reef Marine Reserve located off the coast of the island of Beqa, where you can go swimming with up to 8 species of shark.

To help finance shark research and compensate local villagers for their lost fishing grounds, Beqa Adventure Divers offers scuba diving trips into the marine reserve’s shark-infested waters.

They let you get face-to-face with these underwater killers.

Killers of fish that is.

Because shark attacks on humans around the world are exceedingly rare — despite popular belief to the contrary.

Shark Attack Odds

Let’s look at some examples. How likely is a shark attack in the United States? Odds are greater that one of these will happen to you first:

  • You will die from a dog attack.
  • You will die from a lightning strike.
  • You will get killed by bees or wasps.
  • You will be executed for a crime.
  • You will be bitten by a human.
  • You will die falling down in your home.
  • Dick Cheney will shoot you on a hunting trip.

As for actual death by shark attack, that’s even rarer. Like 1 in 3,748,067 to be exact. You are more likely to die while digging a sand hole on the beach.

So stop digging those stupid things. They’re dangerous!

Scuba Diving with Sharks Fiji
Scuba Diving with Sharks Fiji

My First Shark Dive

Knowing these statistics made it a bit easier to join the professionals at Beqa Adventure for my first ever shark dive. They’ve been doing this for over 10 years with no problems.

I’ve been scuba diving in caves before, but diving with large Bull and possibly Tiger sharks was a big deal. These massive animals can grow 8 to 15 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds.

Both have a history (however rare) of attacks on humans.

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous to dive with them.

But, as I’ve learned over & over again on my travels, breaking out of your comfort zone is a healthy thing to do. So down I went down below to meet these toothy phobia-inducing creatures in person.

Grey Reef Shark Beqa Fiji
Grey Reef Shark Beqa Fiji

Shark Diving Fiji

It was time to suit up and hop off the boat for a 100 foot descent into the ocean. Once at the bottom, local Fijian dive masters positioned us on top of a coral wall, looking down into a sandy pit. Then the feeding began. There was no turning back now!

Two divers pull fish parts from plastic containers attracting a gigantic whirling mass of Jacks, Snappers, and other reef fish. It wasn’t long before the sharks appeared to get in on the action. First it was Nurses, Black Tips, and Grey Reef sharks. At 4 to 6 feet long, they were impressive enough.

But then came the Bulls. Ten foot 400 pounders with menacing teeth.

Most of the big guys kept their distance from us, but just watching their huge forms maneuver through the water was an awe-inspiring sight.

After about 17 minutes of sharky fun, we ascended to a depth of 30 feet to continue the spectacle of motion. Black Tips, White Tips, Grey Reefs, and Nurses swam just a foot or two away from my face among hundreds of colorful red, blue, and yellow reef fish.

Our dive masters used aluminum poles to keep some overly excited sharks from getting too close.

Bull Shark Beqa Fiji
Bull Shark Beqa Fiji

Shark Feeding Controversy

Now if you didn’t already know, feeding sharks like this is a bit controversial. Some say that it trains them to associate humans with food, increasing the odds of an attack. Yet there is zero hard proof of this yet. It’s only speculation.

These diving trips pour much needed money into shark conservation & research projects. Without that money, shark populations around the world will continue to rapidly decline. If dive operators don’t pay to help save the sharks, who will? You? The government?

That’s wishful thinking in my opinion. It won’t happen.

The ONLY reason marine life is protected at Fiji’s Shark Reserve is because of the money flowing in from these dive trips. Beqa Adventure Divers teamed up with local villages to ban all fishing here in 2004. The result? A once dying reef is thriving and full of life again.

After over 10 years of feeding sharks here, attacks in Fiji are still just as rare as anywhere else. Averaging 1-2 a year.

It’s important to keep in mind that swimming with sharks is probably a bit more dangerous than watching them on the Discovery Channel.

But don’t fall for all the media sensationalism. Math doesn’t lie. The odds are in your favor. These beautiful and powerful creatures are better seen in person anyway. ★

Watch Video: Shark Diving in Fiji

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(Click to watch Shark Diving Beqa: Fiji on YouTube)
Travel Planning Resources for Fiji
Accommodation: Uprising Beach Resort
Company: Beqa Adventure Divers
Cost: $158 US (2 tank dive trip)

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I hope you enjoyed my guide on Shark Diving in Fiji! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Would you ever swim with sharks?


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
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Comments (62)

  1. Hey Matthew,

    I’m on Fiji right now and really enjoyed reading your article on the shark dives. I’ve been a passionate diver for 20 years and love sharks (that’s why I’m here😉)

    However one thing that really annoys me about people quoting shark attack statistics is the fact that the statistics are bullshit. I recently went to West Australia to go freediving and read a lot about increasing numbers in fatal attacks by great whites. The official statistics however quoted the same “its less likely than dying by *insert random stuff*”. So I looked a bit further and saw that they weighed each shark attack against 30 million people visiting the beaches every year… 29.5 million people sunbathing and sitting in the water to pee do not belong in those statistics though. If u only took real risk groups (spearfishers, surfers) the unmanipulated statistics would look way worse (which ofc the government doesn’t want cause they depend a lot on tourism).

  2. This article perfectly describes the adventures of a risk-taker. Many people nowadays are severely affected by the media and movies regarding sharks and shark attacks, it alters their views, their perspectives on the sea life forever and leaves them terrified of ever setting foot into the ocean.
    The fact stays that sharks aren’t out for human blood, unless provoked sharks don’t intend on devouring humans (although it rarely happens that sharks feed on humans unprovoked, they typically don’t target them). However, the several attacks documented the last few centuries are mostly non-fatal, this explains that even though sharks sometimes seem threatening to human lives, they aren’t as harmful as countless people think they are.
    Sharks are truly intriguing, fascinating and captivating creatures. Personally, since I am also an adrenaline junkie, as they call it, I have had the chance to see great white sharks in the flesh on one of our travels to South Africa. It took multiple tries to convince my parents into letting me do it, nevertheless they finally gave in, (after countless arguments and never-ending pleading) they agreed. The next day I went with the group and to say I was nervous would be an understatement, but one of the things I partly live for is breaking out of my comfort zone and taking huge risks. Furthermore, as the saying goes: “An adrenaline junkie is more afraid of not living than dying”. We got ready and suited up, filled our tanks and finally we entered the cages and were sent on our way to the bottom of the ocean, where we were destined to meet the Great White Sharks.
    This experience changed my life forever, as I’m sure it did yours as well. I learned to see sharks and many different sea creatures in a new-found light, and different viewpoint. It saddened me to discover that people were thoughtless and killed these indescribably amazing creatures for the purposes of making soups using their fins, while the rest of the shark was left to decay. Humans are frightened of sharks when in reality it should be reversed; for humans have caused more destruction to sharks than sharks ever did to human beings.

  3. Amazing experience! I’ve always wanted to do this. I did do a shark cage snorkel off the North Shore of Oahu once, but this sounds absolutely fabulous.

  4. Must be an incredible feeling swimming with the bull sharks. The amount of adrenaline i would imagine would initially be high. Its too painful to imagine that such majestic creatures are caught for a single fin (thats like 2% of the shark) which is used for shark fin soup. The rest is mostly tossed back at sea…wasteful!

  5. Great blog! What was your favorite fish that you saw? Where else have you snorkelled? Looks a bit scary though! I would be scared of getting attacked.

  6. How cool! I will be learning to dive in the next few months, and am hoping by the time we get to Fiji that I’ll be able to do this! Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. I would say this is as daring as jumping out of a plane @ 10,000 ft. I think probability of your main parachute / backup parachute not opening would be the same.

  8. Awesome article! Scary to think that people are so petrified of the water because of shark attacks. It certainly doesn’t stop me! However, I’d be a little more resistant to swim in shark-infested waters. I’d have to really go out of my comfort zone to go scuba diving with bull sharks. You motivate me to be adventurous!

  9. What an awesome experience! Not going to lie, those pictures gave me the chills. Still, would love to come across some sharks on a dive… I haven’t been that lucky yet!

    Appreciated the info about the good that organization does for the reef. Seems like a worthy cause!

  10. You got some amazing shots, friend! Haven’t seen that many sharks since we dove Borneo on our honeymoon five years ago.

  11. Great post! Recreational shark diving provides one of the greatest thrills one could ever experience. More importantly, after having experienced a shark dive, many people lose their fear of sharks and come to see them in a positive light.

  12. I’d love to do a dive like you did, but I’m sure I would be pretty scared as well.
    A lot of people fear spiders, mice and other creatures way smaller than sharks :)

  13. Great post! Thanks for bringing awareness and informative information to those who have fear of sharks. I’ve loved them since I started diving back in ’86. They’re wonderful to see in the wild and, unless you’re carrying a hunk of bleeding seal meat in your vest, they pretty much keep a curious distance.

    Great post, Matt!

  14. It must be an amazing experience to dive in close to sharks in this paradise called Fidji. An adventure of other times. Congratulations and good luck

  15. Love this post. Great photos Matthew!
    Recently wrote about diving with some of the oceans big guys and a shark dive is up there with my all time must someday.
    Have you (since doing this dive) consider a cage dive?
    Love the shark attack odds :)

  16. What an amazing experience it must have been ! I wish I could scuba dive but my ears won’t let me so videos like this allow me to mock dive :)

  17. OMG. it is a memorable experience, I guess. Seeing the sharks around you without a cage is so crazy. But I love this activity.

  18. One of our Fiji highlights – they’re such beautiful creatures to share some time in the ocean with! Glad you were stoked on it!

  19. Hey matt i would love to come film you on one of your next trips. i love traveling and im trying to build a you tube channel and would love to do a collaboration with you. thanks man! let me know!

  20. After watching Shark Week on Discovery last week, your pictures above take a whole different meaning! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Selachophobia. I never knew what it was called but I definitely have it. I think I’ll be content experiencing this through you. Great video Matthew. Funny bit with the guy doing the headstand behind you. :)

  22. Wow you really are an adrenaline junkie, I heard a nice quote once, the adrenaline junkie is more afraid of not really living then dying.

  23. Your camera is so clear. I would have thought that the picture of the shark came from another site if I have not seen your other photos. It looks so good even underwater.

  24. Hi Matthew.
    Great pictures!
    And yes, shark attacks are extremely unlikely… Coconuts kill 15 times more people than sharks (I like the Dick Cheney shooting in your statistics ;-) but no one fears them. And mosquitoes kill 75.000 more than sharks (Malaria, Dengue).
    I had the chance to dive with Grey Reef Sharks (Fakarava, French Polynesia), but no Bull Sharks (said to be extremely aggressiv) – Nor hammerhead, unfortunately.
    Would love to, even though I have thoughts against shark feeding. But I agree that money flowing is the best way to ensure conservation.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers, Gilles

    • Im sure being killed by a tiger is 50 million to 1. But if you jump into a pit with tigers. Somehow I think the odds go up considerably. Of Course shark attacks are low. How many people actually come within distance of a shark in their entire lifetime. If you did a stat about people being attacked that dive with intent of coming in contact with sharks not in a cage. The odds go into the thousands not the millions. It and it would just sayin..

      • Thank you.. Someone else that stopped to think about these stupid statistics. Dividng shark attacks and coconut deaths by the population of the world and then using that to argue that this means that diving with bull sharks is safe is frankly stupid.

  25. Nice underwater photos Matt!

    I just bought a gopro and I’m super excited to use it. Before, I’d buy rugged cameras and they work too… but all the cool kids are using go pro’s :)

  26. Awesome set of pictures, they all look amazing. All I’ve read seems to be an unforgettable adventure, you’ve made me dream about this kind of diving. Just have to ignore the fear and enjoy the endless beauty of this underwater paradise.

  27. I loved the pictures. The sharks do look fearsome, but you are right. The actual number of shark attacks on people is relatively small. In fact, I think that more sharks die from human inflicted wounds each year than the other way around.

  28. I did that shark dive in Fiji a few years ago and it’s really spectacular. Fiji in general is a great destination for scuba diving. My question: What model of GoPro did you use to take those pictures? Did you have the HERO3+ already back then? Thanks!

    • This was the Hero 2, with some color correction and other post processing after. It helped that it was a sunny day and the water there is very clear.

  29. WOW! I totally in love with diving!! I did it for the first time at Bali. Yeah, it was scary for me to go underwater and not knowing what inside of the sea, what will happen and lots of thoughts came across my mind. Yet, it was the best experience ever. Moreover, Shark Diving, totally want to experience this :) Your blog also reminds me who will protect them if not us. They are beautiful fierce creatures I’ve ever seen and kind of terrifying when I watched your video. Indeed, they are awesome. Great blogs :)

    • They are beautiful. I’m actually getting quite addicted to diving with them. Just did it again recently in South Africa. Posting photos & video about that trip soon!

    • Nice Ben, I really want to dive with them again. But hopefully some Tigers will show up next time. They’re even bigger!

  30. One HUGE problem with the statistics: All of the quoted statistics are based on the ENTIRE population. PROBLEM: Not all people swim in the ocean or dive!!! Therefore the statistics are DRASTICALLY FLAWED. If you compare the number of shark attacks vs the actual number of ocean swim and divers IN WATERS KNOWN TO HAVE ACTIVE SHARK PPOPULATIONS then the REAL RISK is shown and it would be a relatively big number – I “guesstimate” over 1% – which if you swim more than 100 times per year in shark waters is way too great a risk. That’s why some beaches around the world ARE CLOSED!! The RISK is WAY OVER an acceptable percentage. Yes, even numbers can mislead when not applied correctly. This happens even in medical studies by huge drug companies skewing the percentages with the intent to deceive. With that said, I’m hoping to move to Fiji and learn to SCUBA dive – I will NEVER snorkel or swim off a boat. Thanks.

    • You are correct, however the ENTIRE population doesn’t go hunting, isn’t allergic to bees, doesn’t go walking in thunderstorms, or commit crimes that warrant the death penalty. Yet all those things still kill more people.

      I’d be willing to wager more people swim in the ocean than most of those other examples.

  31. Never knew there was a word for it, but now I know that I suffer from Selachophobia times 100. You are very brave. Don’t think I could do it despite the stats you have provided. ;-)

  32. I think a lot of us realize that the chances are pretty slim that a shark will attack you, but fear just isn’t something rational… I’d love to do a dive like you did, but I’m sure I would be pretty scared as well.
    A lot of people fear spiders, mice and other creatures way smaller than sharks :-)

  33. Wow what an awesome trip! I’ve done several dives myself and have gotten my Open Water certification but I still can’t wait to go shark diving as well as do some ship wreck diving too! :-D

  34. Awesome post Matt. Not sure what I love more, the photos or the video! Great work. I’m hoping GoPro promotes your video to Video of the Week!

  35. Leave us start at paragraph two, then move on to the bold portions. If you insert “lawyers” instead of “sharks” it all becomes true. Funny how humans an imitate nature.