TIGER SHARKSMost (planned) great-white encounters take place in a cage. Which makes it all the more thrilling that you can encounter one of the ocean’s other top predators — the tiger shark — with no bars blocking your view during dives at legendary Tiger Beach off West end, Grand Bahama. Divers come from all over the world for the chance to come face to tooth-splayed face with the striped hunters. After an extensive briefing (yes, chum is used to attract the sharks and, yes, you might need to use your camera or the safety bar provided to push them away), it’s directly down to the sand to take in the spectacle. Lemon sharks and reef sharks usually show up first, and then it’s tiger time, with most animals ranging between 8 and 12 feet long. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Stuart Cove’s Tiger Beach Seafaris offers encounters at Tiger Beach for $250 per day, or packages that start at $571.
There’s a common misconception among divers that the Caribbean is all about sunny reefs and their jewel-colored (and -size) denizens — that for the large, dynamic predators and pelagics you have to head to the Pacific. Not so, we say. From Tobago and the Bahamas to the Mayan Riviera, the Caribbean’s cast of big animals stars mantas, sperm whales, whale sharks and more.