Underwater Photography Guide to Tiger Beach, Bahamas

tiger beach Bahamas

Shark diving and shark photography have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and as a result, new destinations are being discovered yearly, each dubbed the ‘next best location to capture dreamy shark shots’, including Tiger Beach, Bahamas.

tiger beach Bahamas
A large tiger shark approaches in the late afternoon sun.

With so many dive sites to choose from, this one has truly stood the test of time and is deserving of the title ‘Best Shark Dive in the World’.

Not only does the site see an abundance of tiger sharks, among many other exciting shark species, but it is also very well suited to underwater photography with clear blue water, shallow depths, and a variety of different scenery to make use of in compositions.

If you’re an underwater photographer with a passion for big sharks, keep reading and learn why Tiger Beach should be on your diving bucket list!

Where is Tiger Beach?

While the name Tiger “Beach” implies this dive site is close to shore, it is in fact located approximately 30 kilometers off the coast of West End in the Bahamas on a large shallow sandbank.

The best way to access Tiger Beach is by joining a live aboard vessel departing from West Palm Beach, Florida, in the United States or by travelling to Grand Bahama Island and booking a day trip from local operators.

When to dive Tiger Beach?

Tiger Beach offers amazing opportunities year-round; however, October to April represents the peak season when close encounters with the tiger sharks are known to be even more prevalent.

tiger beach Bahamas
There is more than just tiger sharks at Tiger Beach! Here is a Caribbean reef shark swimming amongst a school of fish.

Regardless of when you choose to go, you can expect to experience an abundance of tiger sharks, lemon sharks, reef sharks, tawny nurse sharks, and sometimes great hammerheads and bull sharks too.

Choosing an operator

It is very important to do your research before booking a trip to Tiger Beach.

Due to the inherent risks associated with diving with large, wild predators, you will want to ensure your crew operates in accordance with high safety standards and is conscious of not only your well-being but also that of the sharks.

underwater photography tiger beach
There are a number of liveaboard vessels that visit Tiger Beach, most of which offer night dives which can be a very rewarding experience.

When it comes to choosing a tour operator, the main question is whether you want to see the site via liveaboard or if you would prefer day trips.

Personally, I prefer the former as you can fit in much more diving and photography as well as having the opportunity to enjoy a night dive or two, weather permitting. Typical liveaboard itineraries include either five or seven nights at sea where the plan is simple: dive, eat, sleep, repeat!

underwater photography Bahamas
A couple of tiger sharks slowly make their way towards my camera as I kneel on the sandy bottom.

On the other hand, if the idea of sleeping at sea makes your stomach churn, day trips from West End, Bahamas, typically offer three long dives per day, ensuring you get your fill of shark photography before returning to land.

Dive conditions at Tiger Beach

The Caribbean is renowned for its incredibly blue water and warm, tropical climate, and Tiger Beach is no exception. However, it is an exposed site and is therefore heavily impacted by adverse weather conditions.

Divers should expect visibility exceeding 20 meters, but be aware that the presence of strong winds and large swells can see visibility quickly drop to sometimes as low as 2-3 meters. For this reason, it is recommended to book multiple days to allow for a few bad weather days, just in case!

underwater photography tiger beach Bahamas
Visibility is often amazing and usually exceeds 20 meters.

Ocean currents can range from mild to strong, but much of the diving takes place while kneeling in the sand, making strong currents much less of a concern.

A common dive plan involves planting yourself on the seafloor and simply enjoying the show as multiple sharks pass by just centimetres from your camera!

Water temperature can range from 21 to 29 degrees Celsius depending on the time of year, but often sits fairly steady around 25 degrees, making a 5mm wetsuit suitable for most divers.

Read more: 6 Essential Dive Skills for Underwater Photographers

What species can you expect at Tiger Beach?

The main attraction at Tiger Beach is, without a doubt, the tiger sharks; however, you can expect to see and photograph a number of other shark species on each and every dive.

Tiger sharks

Tiger Beach is by far the best destination in the world to experience close encounters with a number of large tiger sharks on each and every dive.

tiger beach bahamas
The tiger sharks are very large and very used to divers; expect them to come close!

From the moment you descend to the sandy bottom, you will likely be greeted by at least a couple of tigers, and as time goes on, you may find yourself photographing upwards of seven individuals as they glide around the site.

Read more: How to Take Charismatic Portraits of Marine Life

Lemon sharks

Lemon sharks will most likely be the species you spot first upon arriving at Tiger Beach. Before you even get in the water, you can expect to see a dozen or so lemon sharks congregating on the surface at the back of the boat.

underwater photography tiger beach Bahamas
A curious lemon shark approaches close to the surface after dark.

Lemon sharks can range from approximately two to three meters in length and make for some exciting images, both swimming through the water column or resting on the sand.

If you’re fortunate enough to score some calm weather, this species is perfect for split shots taken from the back of the boat!

Read more: Underwater Split-Shots – Top Tips for Over-Under Photos

Caribbean reef sharks

Every dive at Tiger Beach sees an abundance of Caribbean reef sharks. If it’s your first time at the site, you will enjoy photographing these slightly smaller sharks as they buzz around you, sometimes in large numbers.

tiger beach Bahamas underwater photography
A couple of Caribbean reef sharks stir up the sand while circling around me.

After a few dives, many divers (myself included) begin to see them more as a pest, distracting from the much larger and more impressive tiger sharks!

Tawny nurse sharks

Tawny nurse sharks are also usually present and are seen lying on the sandy bottom or attempting to score an easy snack.

underwater photography Bahamas
Shooting upward at a tawny nurse shark underneath the boat.

While perhaps not as photogenic as some of the other species, they are an interesting shark and one that’s worth at least a few images!

Bull sharks and great hammerhead sharks

These two species are not necessarily a guaranteed sighting at Tiger Beach, but they are certainly not uncommon either.

I have not yet been so lucky, but many underwater photographers have enjoyed spectacular close-up encounters with each shark, particularly the great hammerheads.

Read more: How to Photograph Ocean Giants

Top tips for underwater photography at Tiger Beach

Now that you know what species you can expect to photograph, here are some tips to help you nail your best shot!

Read more: 13 Ways to Improve Your Underwater Photos


One of the best things about photographing Tiger Beach is the freedom you will have to photograph the sharks in a variety of different ways. Utilize different angles and if possible, aim to include different scenery to fill the background.

underwater photography Bahamas
A top down composition of a tiger shark as it glides above the sandy bottom.

Tiger Beach is quite a large area and there are some beautiful coral reefs, vibrant patches of sea grass, and of course, the white sandy bottom to make use of for spectacular images.

Read more: An Underwater Photographer’s Guide to Colour Photography

Underwater lighting

Tiger Beach is very shallow, ranging between only eight to twelve meters (sometimes less). This means that lighting is often very favorable and should be exploited for the best images.

If shooting with natural light only, aim to position yourself with the sun at your back for sharp and colorful imagery.

tiger beach Bahamas
A large tiger shark swimming through clear blue water ahead of a bright sun.

If working with strobe lighting, shooting up towards the sun can make for exciting sunbursts.

Regardless of your goals, the main thing is to be aware of the direction of the light at all times and use it to your advantage.

Make sure you have a good understanding of how lighting can impact the color in your underwater photography, as you’ll want to make sure you’re capturing the brilliant blues of these waters.

Read more: 8 Tips for Creating Amazing Lighting in Underwater Photos

Camera settings

Your camera settings will always vary depending on the conditions available as well as whether you are shooting with natural light only or with strobes.

However, because the sharks will almost always be in motion, I recommend prioritizing a relatively fast shutter speed of at least 1/320 (natural light) or 1/160 (strobe lighting).

With regards to aperture, f/8 is always a good place to start and ISO within the limits of 1000 depending on the capabilities of your camera.


The main piece of equipment to bring to Tiger Beach is a wide-angle lens. I recommend shooting with a super wide fisheye like the Tokina 10-17mm or Nikon or Canon’s 8-15mm; however, something within the 10-20mm or 16-35mm range will also serve you well.

tiger beach Bahamas
A close pass from one of the larger tiger sharks at Tiger Beach; shot on the Nikon 8-15mm fisheye lens.

Many of the sharks are very large, measuring up to five meters in length, and will come very close to you. A super wide-angle lens will allow you to get nice and close while still fitting the entire shark in the frame as well as capturing some stunning surrounding scenery.

Read more: What’s the Best Camera for Underwater Photography?

In conclusion

If you’re an underwater photographer with a passion for sharks, I can guarantee you will not regret a trip to Tiger Beach.

The shark life is extremely abundant each and every dive, and I can assure you will have no trouble filling a memory card with unforgettable memories!

Be sure to do your research when choosing an operator, and don’t forget to enjoy the experience with your eyes too – not just through your lens!

Visit Josh's website

Josh is an underwater photographer based on the Gold Coast on the East Coast of Australia. With an emphasis on colour, details and impactful compositions, Josh uses his underwater imagery to spark discussion and inspire others to develop a deeper connection to our blue planet. He has authored and provided images for many online and printed publications both within Australia and overseas. Josh realised his love for combining written content with his photographs to tell the exciting stories behind his encounters.

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