Sharks in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a tropical paradise home to a wide range of diverse marine species. This naturally includes several shark species as well.

However, if you plan to travel to Costa Rica, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Sharks generally ignore humans as they are not part of their usual diet. Most bites occur due to mistaken identity, i.e., the shark mistakes the silhouette of a human on a surfboard for a seal when looking up.

Though the chances are low, if an aggressive species like a bull or tiger shark has been seen around a specific beach or reef, it would be best to avoid the area for a while.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Costa Rica

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Blacktip Reef Shark 3-4 feet Moderately aggressive (if provoked)
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Bull Shark 7-12 feet Highly aggressive
Caribbean Reef Shark 8-9 feet Not aggressive
Cookiecutter Shark 1.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Galapagos Shark 9.8-12 ft Highly aggressive
Great Hammerhead Shark 15-20 feet Highly aggressive
Lemon Shark 9-10 feet Not aggressive
Nurse Shark 7-8 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 10-13 feet Highly aggressive
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Silky Shark 7-10 feet Highly aggressive
Silvertip Shark 6.6-9.8 feet Moderately aggressive
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Whitetip Reef Shark 3-5.5 feet Moderately aggressive (only when provoked)



There have been only ten unprovoked shark attacks between 1900 and 2020, meaning these occur rarely. As per official records, the last known fatality was caused by a bull shark on 19th June 2011 in Guanacaste during a surfing incident.


Great white sharks are seldom seen in Costa Rica.


Several sharks, including two species of hammerhead, are critically endangered and might go extinct in about 20 years.


Yes, these activities are arranged around Cocos Island in Costa Rica.


Whale sharks feed on plankton, which blooms during the wet season. So, the best time for viewing whale sharks is between June and November.

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