By: Maggie Peikon
Photo By: Richard Bassett
This round-up of places to hop in the water alongside the sea's (arguably) most famous inhabitant will no doubt get your adrenaline pumping, and get you ready for Shark Week!
Get up close and personal with some gentle giants—we're talking whale sharks!—in the Ningaloo Reef courtesy of Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim. They'll provide all the snorkel gear you need, and the tour includes free photos of your underwater encounter!
Want to get close to the big kahuna from the safety of a shark cage? Get the thrill of a lifetime diving with great white sharks with Great White Shark Tours in Gansbaai, South Africa. This particular dive is great for those with little diving experience, there's no scuba certification required and no snorkeling gear necessary either.
No cages here! You'll get to swim in the open ocean with sharks (and possibly even dolphins, whales, and turtles) with One Ocean Diving. This organization provides masks and fins, and guarantees you'll see a shark on your dive...if not, they promise a full refund!
If you're not keen on snorkeling, or cage diving, consider Compass Cay. Here you'll get to hop in the water with nurse sharks—who are said to be (for the most part) non-aggressive towards humans. Most hotels in Exumas can coordinate a trip to Compass Cay for guests.
Hammer-time! Easily the most recognizable species, hammerhead sharks are hanging out in Cocos Island, Costa Rica waiting for you. Side note: this excursions is a bit pricey. Undersea Hunter offers an incredible, probably once in a lifetime, experience diving in a three seater sub where passengers are surrounded by hammerheads. Time to get that vacation fund going.
Costa Rica isn't you're only option to catch a glimpse of a hammerhead, though! You can head to North Bimini in The Bahamas (for a much cheaper excursion than that in Costa Rica!) with Bimini Scuba Center and take their Great Hammerhead Safari tour. Space is limited, and it only operates during a few months of the year, so get on it!
Hang out with another easily recognizable species, the blacktip reef shark (and stingrays, too!) in Bora Bora. Viator offers a 2 ½ hour trip—snorkeling gear included! A little nervous to jump in? Those who prefer to watch from above can hang on the boat instead.