The 7 biggest marine animals you can see while scuba diving

By Julius
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Scuba diver with whale shark

Part of the excitement of scuba diving is the opportunity to encounter countless different sea creatures in their natural habitat.

From the smallest critters to the largest whales, you can see it all.

Have you been lucky enough to see a whale shark up close underwater? Isn’t it incredible how tiny we are compared to them?

Let’s look at the 7 biggest marine animals you can see while scuba diving, and some tips on where to spot them.

1 Whale Shark

Whale shark at surface
A whale shark in Cocos Island.

The whale shark is one of the most iconic sea creatures scuba divers can encounter and the largest fish in the sea.

Up to 18 meters/ 60ft long, these majestic animals are a favorite among divers and snorkelers alike.

Counterintuitive to the “shark”-part in their name, Whale Sharks are harmless and won’t ever attack humans.

Where to spot them:

Whale sharks can be spotted in many different places around the world. The best dive spots for whale shark diving can be found in the Maldives, Thailand, along the shores of Cozumel in Mexico, Cocos Island, and Australia.

2 Saltwater Crocodile

Sea crocodiles are the largest reptiles in the world, weighing up to 2 tons while measuring up to 6.5 meters / 23ft in length.

Saltwater crocodile in mud
A large saltwater crocodile on land in Cuba.

While many crocodile species are rather harmless and afraid of humans, saltwater crocodiles can be very aggressive towards humans. Mmmh…maybe a good time to check out dive insurance? 😉

Nonetheless, they are fascinating creatures and let’s be honest.

Diving with Crocodiles is just really cool!

Where to spot them

Jardines de La Reina in Cuba is the best place to dive with Saltwater Crocodiles where they love to hang out between the Mangroves. Make sure to find a reputable dive center that offers safe and trustworthy diving adventures.

3 Whales

Scuba diving with whales is an incredible experience and one you won’t ever forget.

While there are smaller species, most of the commonly known types of whales are massive in size.

The three largest ones you can encounter while diving are:

  • Blue Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Sperm Whale

Diving with whales requires careful planning of your dive trip, as these animals don’t stay in one place for very long and migrate between different parts of the world every year.

Whales will be the largest marine animals you can see while scuba diving, so get your underwater cameras ready!

Blue Whale

The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet and should therefore be on every diver’s bucket list. Encountering them is not easy, however, as they usually roam the oceans away from beaches and humans.

Blue whale at sea
A blue whale off the coast of the Azores.

Where to spot them

The best place to free dive with blue whales is Sri Lanka, where these gigantic creatures can be found between February and April. If you are lucky, you may also encounter them on the Azores in the summer during their migration.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whale jumping out of the water.
If you are lucky, you can encounter a jumping humpback whale.

Humpback whales are famous for being a species of whale that enjoys jumping out of the water.

Where to spot them

Tonga and the Dominican Republic are arguably the most famous diving destination for encountering humpback whales. Here, large groups of humpback whales return every year, and snorkeling and diving with them can almost be guaranteed.

The Western coast of Australia, and the Bahamas are other great places to find them.

Sperm Whale

Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales in the world and arguably the most iconic whales of all.

Sperm whale tail fin.
Sperm whales are extremely rare to encounter.

Who doesn’t recall “Moby Dick“, a white sperm whale, and Captain Ahab and their infamous clash?

If not, you can find the book here:

Despite their reputation, sperm whales are not dangerous and diving with them is truly an incredible experience you should not miss.

Where to spot them

The best place to dive with sperm whales is the Bahamas from December to February.

4 Orca

Yes, Orcas are a type of whale, but they are separate from the rest of the whales due to their unique appearance and habitat.

Orca family swimming together
Orcas are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet.

Orcas are among the most intelligent animals in the world and are typically not dangerous for humans. In fact, there have only been a handful of supposed attacks on humans and nobody was hurt.

On the contrary, Orcas enjoy playing with humans and can often be seen interacting harmlessly with people on boats.

Where to spot them

The best place to dive with Orcas is the Lofoten Islands in Norway and the Northern coast of Scotland.

5 Basking Shark

Basking Sharks are the world’s second-largest fish and can look truly terrifying.

Basking shark underwater.
A basking shark close-up.

Despite their appearance and name, these sea creatures are completely harmless, feeding on plankton and only opening their mouths to filter fish.

Where to spot them

These social animals can be found around the globe but the best place to dive with them is the Isle of Coll in Scotland. They are also common around Scapa Flow, one of the best diving destinations in Europe.

6 Great White Shark

The most famous shark species and probably the most famous (and misunderstood) marine animal of all, the Great White Shark, doesn’t need any introduction.

A great white shark in their natural habitat.
Guadalupe is a great place to watch Great Whites in their natural habitat.

Countless movies, as well as pop culture, have made this shark as infamous as it gets.

Up to 6 meters / 20ft long and weighing between 2 – 4 tons, scuba diving with Great White Sharks should be on every diver’s bucket list.

They enjoy colder water temperatures, which is why you will not find them close to shore most of the time.

While there are many providers of cage diving with Great White Sharks, only very few offer diving with them in the open.

Where to spot them

The best places to encounter Great White Sharks are the island of Guadalupe off the coast of Mexico, South Africa, Australia, and the Farallon Islands in the USA.

A liveaboard is the recommended way to get to these dive spots so check out the best liveaboard diving destinations in [current-year].

7 Sunfish (Mola Mola)

Sunfish are commonly referred to as Mola Molas and are some of the strangest and coolest fish you will ever encounter underwater.

A Mola Mola sunfish in an aquarium.
A Mola Mola. It just looks so cool.

They can weigh up to 2 tons and measure up to 4 meters /12 ft in length and height.

Their unique shape makes them very recognizable and scuba diving with Mola Molas is a lot of fun.

Where to spot them

Indonesia is one of the best diving destinations to dive with Mola Molas, however, they can also be found in the Maldives, and even in the Mediterranean Sea.


This was our list of the 7 biggest marine animals to see while scuba diving.

An encounter with any of them is truly an unforgettable experience and should be on your scuba diving bucket list!

Which of these big animals do you want to see?

Make sure to get the FREE scuba diving trip packing list before your next dive trip!

If you need more diving inspiration, you might like these articles:

Best beginner diving destinations in [current-year]

Best liveaboard diving destinations

Be sure to get good dive insurance, too, before starting your next diving adventure.

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

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