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The sinister and forbidding Malpelo Island is located around 500 kilometres off the west coast of Colombia. Only one liveaboard vessel is allowed to be present at any one time, with a maximum of 25 divers.

The island is a peak of a large submarine volcanic ridge that rises from depths of 4,000 metres to reveal itself as the tiny, solitary rock of Malpelo. The island is home to a large variety and quantity of marine life and is especially famous for encounters with huge schools of sharks. It one of the top destinations for big marine life and suited for experienced divers.

Get chills down your spine in ‘The Fridge’ and ‘The Freezer’, just two of a number of exciting dive sites, offering an incredible mix of pelagic marine life including hammerhead sharks (Jan-May), huge concentrations of eagle rays and ‘waves’ of silky sharks (May-Aug) – you may need to pack your woolly socks for these dives! Other common sights are white tip and Galapagos sharks, giant schools of angel fish, creole fish, jacks, tuna, sailfish, whale sharks (Jun-Sep) and even humpback and blue whales. Of particular interest to experienced divers is the chance to encounter the extremely rare small sandtoothed sand tiger shark in deep water (Jan-Apr).

The MV Yemaya visits the island throughout the year, departing from Panama. Currents can be strong, which makes drift diving the best option on some dive sites. Divers must hold, at minimum, an Advanced Open Water qualification.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: scalloped hammerhead shark, smalltooth sand tiger shark, silky shark, whale shark, giant oceanic manta ray

Dive trips

This dive location is featured in the following itineraries:

Liveaboard Diving in Panama

This liveaboard adventure offers experienced divers the chance to enjoy some of the world’s best adventure and exploratory diving in the Gulf of Chiriquí around Coiba Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • When to go: May-Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Trip type: Liveaboard trip

Malpelo Liveaboard

Experience shark diving at its best on this challenging trip around Malpelo Island. Depending on the time of year, rewards include large numbers of hammerheads, silkys, and the rare sand toothed sand tiger shark.

  • When to go: May-Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 to 17 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,395 pp
  • Trip type: Liveaboard trip