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These are the Top 6 Best Spots for Shark Watching in Colombia

Hammerhead in Colombia

Updated on 05/28/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Colombia is a very diverse country, it is estimated that 76 species of sharks inhabit the country, representing 12% of those known globally. Sharks such as the hammerhead, silky, whale, nurse, tiger, and black tip, are the most common and vital to the marine ecosystem.

In this blog we will show you where you can see them in Colombia.

Where to Spot Sharks in Colombia?

Malpelo Island

Location: It’s about 310 miles west of the port of Buenaventura, in the Colombian Pacific.

Access: Charged.

Malpelo Island is a marine sanctuary declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can immerse yourself in the Pacific Ocean and encounter over 20 species of registered sharks, such as the hammerhead, whale, silky, thresher, and Galápagos sharks, among others.

This place is renowned as one of the best diving spots in the world, where thousands of foreigners come every year to observe large fish (sharks) since it’s one of the few places on the planet where they are seen in large numbers.

For instance, mid-year, during the summer months, is the ideal time to enjoy the arrival of whale sharks to this sanctuary.

Services and Activities

  • Tour guides and environmental interpretation services.
  • Diving activity center.
  • Food.
  • Accommodation.

How to Get There?

The only way to reach the sanctuary is by maritime transport. Once you arrive at the port of Buenaventura, a small municipality located in the department of Valle del Cauca, about 71,4 miles from Cali, you take a boat to the sanctuary.

For more information, visit the official website.

Providence Island – McBean Lagoon

Location: It’s located on the eastern end of Providencia Island, more than 56 miles from San Andrés Island.

Access: Charged.

Providencia Island is a Colombian Caribbean island, a favorite destination for tourists to practice diving. Here you will find species such as:

  • The reef gray shark.
  • The nurse shark.
  • The hammerhead shark.
  • The tiger shark.

For example, Felipe’s Place, Piedra Tortuga, NX, and Nick’s Place are places where you will find reef gray sharks, which are the most common. This species is quite peaceful and curious, you can swim with them, and they are not aggressive at all.

Another option is San Felipe shoal, where you can see nurse sharks, quite calm. By the way, they usually hide among the rocks.

If you are more adventurous, you can try to see hammerhead, lemon, or tiger sharks in deeper places like Connoly, Manta’s City, or Tete’s Place. In these areas, you should start showing more respect and caution with what you do.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Accommodation in cabins and native inns.
  • Wildlife and flora observation.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Land and sea trail tours.

How to Get There?

By boat: Once you arrive in San Andrés, you must take a boat to Providencia, about an 8-hour journey.

By air route: You can take a plane from San Andrés to Providencia, about a 20-minute journey.

Once you arrive at Providencia, you will only be able to access the marine areas by boat.

If you need more information, feel free to explore the official website.

Tayrona National Natural Park

Location: It is located in the Caribbean region north of Colombia, more than 18,6 miles from Santa Marta.

Access: Charged.

Tayrona National Park is a highly recommended place to observe sharks or interact with them. Here, you will go out on a boat and can see them from the surface, as well as with snorkeling or diving equipment. Here you can find species such as:

  • The whale shark, which you can easily observe from the surface. Recently, a video of this animal was captured very close to the boat with tourists in the La Aguja sector of this park. The largest fish on the planet, measuring 18 meters in length.
  • The hammerhead shark, which requires immersion in deeper maritime areas farther from the island.
  • The bull shark and the reef shark can be seen in places closer to the mangroves and corals of the island, where they usually hunt fish and crustaceans. They are generally very peaceful, although try not to feed or touch them.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Hiking.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Parking.
  • Hammock areas.
  • Internet.
  • Geological observation.
  • Diving.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Boat ride and camping.

How to Get There?

From Santa Marta, you must take a bus at the transport terminal to one of these entrances:

  • Bahía Concha: It is the first entrance to the park, located in Santa Marta. You can reach it via a road from the Bastidas and Altos de Bahía Concha neighborhoods, about 15 minutes by vehicle to the entrance gate, then walk 20 minutes to the main beach.
  • Palangana: It is located at kilometer 5 of the main road to Riohacha, 5 minutes from the toll booth. From here, you can access attractions such as Playa Gayraca, Nenguaje, or Playa Cristal and Cinto. It is necessary to use a boat to reach the last two.
  • Calabazo: You must arrive via the Caribbean main road towards Riohacha, about a 30-minute journey. Here you will access Playa Brava, Boca del Saco, and Cabo San Juan.

If you need more information, you can check the Tayrona National Natural Park official website.

Gorgona Island

Location: It is located west of the Pacific coast of Colombia, about 34,7 miles away.

Access: Charged.

On Gorgona Island, you will find great biodiversity. It is a volcanic island declared a Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO, surrounded by mountains and reefs. On this island, you will be able to see at least 19 species of sharks, including:

  • The whitetip reef shark.
  • Hammerhead sharks.
  • Whale sharks.
  • Blacktip sharks.

You must have suitable equipment and an expert guide who knows the sea conditions and diving sites.

For example, some of the most recommended places to see sharks in certain areas are Montañitas, El Remanso, La Parguera, and El Planchón, so you can ask your guide about these places.

Services and Activities

  • Accommodation.
  • Food.
  • Transportation.
  • Diving.
  • Ecological trail tours.

How to Get There?

  • From the port of Buenaventura in Valle del Cauca, you can organize a round trip for a group of more than 10 people. The journey takes 4 hours.
  • You can also depart from the municipality of Satinga in Nariño. You must take another boat to the island, and the journey takes about 12 hours, but it requires more than 2 people for the boat to sail to the island.

Before going to the island, you must request a special permit from the Gorgona National Natural Park, which is responsible for protecting the reserve.

Rosario Islands – San Martín Island (Oceanario)

Location: It is located about 21,7 miles southeast of Cartagena, off the Barú Peninsula, within the Rosario Islands archipelago.

Access: Charged.

In the Rosario Islands archipelago, specifically on San Martín Island, there is the “Oceanario,” a saltwater aquarium that is part of the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park. It is a very popular tourist destination in the Colombian Caribbean, where you can observe and swim with different marine species and sharks.

But if you specifically want to observe or swim with sharks, I suggest three sites in the Oceanario to do so:

  • The Lighthouse and the Beacon.
  • The Pargo.
  • The Wall, an impressive coral wall ideal for this type of activity.

The sharks you will find in the aquarium are rescued from fishing nets or born in captivity. For example, in these places, you will not only swim with nurse and cat sharks, but also on Rosario Island itself, you will see a live show where you can feed them, and the guides teach them movements. They are truly harmless sharks and absolutely worth it.

Services and Activities

  • Observation of flora, fauna, and aquatic landscapes.
  • Transportation, food, accommodation, and recreation services on the islands near the Oceanarium.
  • Snorkeling and diving.

How to Get There?

From Cartagena, the usual way is by boat from the port, such as the Bodeguita Pier or the Tourist Pier of Los Pegasos. The journey takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the conditions.

So I recommend buying tickets in advance and arriving early, as the boats usually depart early in the morning.

If you need more information, you can inquire at the Rosario Islands Oceanarium.

Bahía Solano – Utría National Park

Location: It is located in Bahía Solano in the department of Chocó on the northern coast of the Colombian Pacific, 62,1 miles from Quibdó.

Access: Charged.

Bahía Solano is a very popular tourist destination on the Colombian Pacific coast, where you will find a wide range of over 200 diving sites to observe sharks.

Sharks like the whitetip reef shark, blue shark, silky shark, and fine-tooth shark frequent the marine depths of the park every year. If you want to see them more easily, I recommend going from December to January when the water cools down, and you can see this type of larger fauna in greater numbers.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Diving center.
  • Accommodation.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Diving.
  • Snorkeling.

How to Get There?

  • By air: The only way to get to Bahía Solano is by plane or charter flight to Celestino Mutis Regional Airport in Bahía Solano. Flights are available from Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, or Quibdó.
  • By sea route: By coastal boat, the journey takes 26 hours, or by authorized motorboats that operate on Tuesdays of each week. These boats follow a route from Buenaventura passing through Juanchaco, Nuquí, and Bahía Solano with a travel time of almost 9 hours.

You can request more information on the official website.

More Nature Tourism Experiences in Colombia

Here is a list of incredible destinations for hiking and other nature activities in Colombia:

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About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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