You’ve probably heard of swimming with dolphins. But did you know that more and more travellers are enjoying the exhilarating experience of swimming with sharks?
If you’re already humming the famous Jaws music in your head and thinking “No thank you!”, then think again. In reality, many species of shark are very gentle. Holiday Lettings has rounded up some of the best places to swim with these fascinating creatures.
Where: South Africa
Photo credit: Albert kok (Licence) via Wikimedia Commons
What to see: South Africa is best known for its great white sharks, but it’s also home to tiger and bull sharks. If you’re feeling daring, book your stay between June and August to coincide with the ‘annual sardine run’. This involves millions of migrating sardines being pursued by hundreds of copper sharks, great whites, dolphins and cape gannets. You might even catch a glimpse of a humpback whale.
It probably goes without saying that you’ll need an expert with you when you swim with sharks, so check out the local companies offering cage-diving tours. Cape Town and Western Cape are popular locations for this.
Where: California, USA
Photo credit: Matthew Field, (Licence) via Wikimedia Commons
What to see: With its long coastline and impressive array of species, California is one of the best places in the world to go swimming with sharks. To get a sighting of the elusive leopard shark, head to San Diego. Leopard sharks are so named for their leopard-like markings and are completely harmless. So, if you’re looking for a more relaxing swimming experience, leopard sharks make great swimming companions.
If you’re looking for something edgier, try cage-less (with an experienced instructor, of course) blue shark and mako shark diving. The Farallon Islands and San Diego are both shark swimming hotspots.
Photo credit: Photo by janderk
What to see: The Great Barrier Reef is the obvious choice for swimming with sharks in Australia. Here you’ll find tropical sharks, such as blacktip reef sharks and wobbegongs, a fascinating breed of carpet shark. The Great Barrier Reef spans a whopping 1,400 miles and is home to over 360 species of coral and 1,500 species of fish.
Seahorses and brightly coloured tropical fish can also be spotted here, making the Great Barrier Reef one of the best places in the world to observe ocean life.
Photo credit: Barry Peters (Flickr) (Licence) via Wikimedia Commons
What to see: Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and observe hammerhead sharks as well as the other fascinating species to be found in the Galapagos Islands. Getting a good sighting of a hammerhead is an amazing experience but it’s no mean feat. This is because their eyes are mounted on their distinctive hammer-shaped heads, allowing them 360-degree vision and giving them plenty of warning when humans are approaching.
Due to increased tourism, visitors are welcome but asked to respect the fragile ecosystem when enjoying a stay here. There are many conservation projects to volunteer for, from tree planting to sourcing sustainable food for the local wildlife.
Photo credit: Chris Gotschalk
What to see: Basking sharks can grow up to 36 feet in length and weigh up to seven tonnes (about the same size as a double-decker bus). However, you’ll be pleased to hear that they are known as the sea’s ‘gentle giants’ and that plankton is their favourite food.
Oban on Scotland’s West Coast is a great place to get up close to basking sharks, a hauntingly beautiful sight that you’ll remember forever. While you’re there, see if you can spot dolphins, harbour porpoises and seals too.
Wherever your desire to swim with sharks takes you always remember to be respectful of the sharks and their environment and of course, have fun!