Great Whites swim in Baja California waters, but there’s nothing to fear. In fact, some face-time with Sea of Cortez sharks might be what your Cabo trip needs.
Does the idea of sharks lurking nearby send a chill down your spine? Thanks to Jaws and other depictions of sharks, these creatures have a pretty bad rep. Some of it is deserved—those teeth are pretty scary—but for the most part, Baja California beachgoers have nothing to fear from Sea of Cortez sharks.
If you’re headed to a vacation in Cabo San Lucas, you might be worried about finding great white sharks in the Sea of Cortez. While great whites have definitely been sighted offshore, you don’t need to worry about your safety. In fact, your favorite part of your Cabo trip might be spending some quality time with the unique Sea of Cortez sharks. (P.S., we’re talking whale sharks, not great whites.)
Are There Sharks In Baja California?
You bet. The seas surrounding Baja California are filled with great white sharks. Guadalupe, a volcanic island about 150 miles off the coast, is home to colonies of seals—and one of the biggest populations of great whites in the world. These sharks have been spotted closer to land, and some of them in the Sea of Cortez itself.
Scientists have discovered that the area is a nursery for newborn sharks. They aren’t sure exactly where the sharks give birth, but have found that Sebastian Vizcaino Bay, which is about halfway down Baja California and 500 miles south of San Diego, is where baby sharks are nurtured and cared for as they grow to adulthood. In fact, almost the entire coast of California is considered a great white shark nursery—sightings of the young sharks are rare, but they do happen.
Are There Sharks In the Sea of Cortez?
Yes, great white sharks have been known to venture from the island of Guadalupe closer to shore. But if you are vacationing in Cabo, should you worry about a shark attack? Probably not. While great white shark teeth are the stuff of nightmares, and there have been incidents of sharks biting, and even killing, humans around the world, people aren’t on the great whites’ menu. These sharks feast on seals—which is why in Baja California, they stick close to the island of Guadalupe.
Despite their bad reputation, great white Sharks in the Sea of Cortez are not out to get you—in fact, you’re more likely to die from falling out of bed than from a shark bite. In 2018, there were only 66 unprovoked shark attacks recorded around the world, and only 6 of these were fatal—compare that to 40,000, the number of people who lost their lives in car accidents in 2018 in the US alone.
Your chances of spotting a great white shark in the Sea of Cortez out in the wild, not to mention the likelihood of a shark attack, are slim. Still, if you see anything that makes you nervous, come to the shore and make a report.
Safe Places to Swim in the Sea of Cortez
While Cabo’s beaches are the postcard turquoise blue and sandy white, most aren’t suitable for swimming—but no, it’s not because of great white sharks in the Sea of Cortez. Instead, the Sea of Cortez is full of strong waves and powerful undercurrents, making many otherwise pristine beaches dangerous for swimming. But there are beaches designated as safe for swimming, including:
Santa Maria Beach
Enjoy Whale Sharks Up Close
The Sea of Cortez is home for part of the year to one of the world’s most gentle ocean creatures: the whale shark. Don’t let the name scare you—these beautiful Sea of Cortez sharks are nothing like the man-eating sharks in Jaws. In fact, their nickname is Gentle Giants. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. They eat microscopic plankton—definitely not people—and they are an endangered species that only live in tropical water.
These Gentle Giants gather near Cabo San Lucas each year from October to April. A favorite activity of Cabo visitors during this time is to swim with the whale sharks. Swimming with the whale sharks in their natural environment gives you an up-close and personal look at this amazing species. Spending some time face to face with these fish—with a trained guide—is a once in a lifetime experience, and is completely safe. Your time with the whale sharks will forever change how you feel when you hear the word “shark.”
If you are headed to Cabo during whale shark season, you can sign up for a group whale shark encounter experience or, for a more unique tour, a private whale shark encounter for you and your friends or family.
Want to swim with the whale sharks? Book a tour with Cabo Adventures.