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.

Where: Australia

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.

Where: Ecuador

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.

Where: Scotland

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!

Legend says that there are treasures at the end of a rainbow. Will it be the same if the rainbow’s underwater?

“Finding it out should be my first quest as a new pirate!” a dreamy EJ said to himself after hearing about an underwater rainbow sighted in the eastern sea.

He invited some friends to join him and they all laughed at him. They called him crazy and all kinds of names but the pirate was determined and shouted that he’ll prove them wrong then left them with his lips pouted.

So he set sail and the wind favored him. He mostly sits at the edge of the boat, looking down closely to the sea for signs of the underwater rainbow.

Searching for signs of the underwater rainbow

The pirate traveled alone in a small boat. He endured cold nights, the sun’s heat, heavy rains and some big waves. After a few days, he started getting weary and his food supply is now short. He has explored several parts of the eastern sea but not a hint of the underwater rainbow was seen.

He decided to go to the nearest island to rest a bit and gather some food.  Along the way, he met a fisherman and asked him if he knows something about the underwater rainbow.

“Yeah it’s a funny story I heard from a crazy old guy who can’t even remember his own name. I wonder who would still believe such a ridiculous story. I’ve been fishing here in the eastern sea since the day I learned how to handle a fishing rod and not one sighting.” said the fisherman.

The pirate felt discouraged after hearing this then continued his way to the island. After reaching the island, he tried to eat some food left even after losing his appetite because of frustration and hopelessness just to gain some strength.

Frustrated EJ

Walking with his head low and mind filled with dark clouds, he gathered some fruits and vegetables until his basket was full.

He decided to take a bath to get refreshed while rationalizing whether he should continue his quest or accept the fact that it’s just a big mistake.

With scrunched eyebrows and a face filled with sadness, he bumped his head to a tree and decided to give it up. He started walking straight back to his boat but suddenly got a call from nature so he ran inside the forest to answer the call then let it all out.

When he got finished, he noticed a strange mark in one of the trees. It’s an arrow leading to one tree and another. He kept on following the marks until he got to a large tree with carved drawings.

The drawing shows an inverted rainbow with sea waves on top of it located at the far side of the eastern sea.

“This must be it!” the pirate said to himself.

The pirate’s face went from gloomy to jolly.  His spirit burst out laughing which made him run and jump in excitement.

Happy Pirate

Full of energy and hope, the pirate set sail again following the direction on the map. The section he’s heading was once thought to be the edge of the sea because of testimonies about people who went there and didn’t come back. Most travelers are warned not to get near that section.

One evening when he was near the said area, the pirate got caught in a storm. The waves are much bigger and the winds are way stronger than any kind of storm he encountered in the past.

The boat was rocking wild and everything was so dark that he can’t tell anymore what direction his boat is heading. He grabbed the boat’s pole as tightly as he could to avoid getting thrown off the boat and prayed for the storm to end soon.

The next day was a peaceful morning, the pirate woke up with a lump in his head and some bruises in his legs. He stretched out his body, made a big yawn then dizzily stood up. He walked clumsily while scratching his tummy and went toward his food basket.

His eyes went from sleepy to shocked when he saw that the basket was partially ripped-off and its cover gone.  Inside it are some birds eating the left-over food which flew right away when he got closer.

For the first time, he realized that his boat landed in a small island. Hungry and desperate, the pirate started grabbing any living thing he can find near the shore.

EJ’s Breakfast

Most of what he found was sea urchins. He cracked it open, scraped its flesh with a spoon, and then added some chili vinegar. It tasted like a grounded oyster mixed with jelly but the pirate didn’t care and kept on eating until he was full.

He started exploring the island and found himself inside a forest with thick fogs. As he kept on walking, the fog became thicker and thicker until he can’t see anything. He thought of going back but a voice caught his attention.

He ran towards the voice until he was out of the fog then saw a woman singing. Her head was exposed and her body is submerged in the sea surrounded by bright glowing colors. The colors formed an arch and the woman is at the center of it as if she’s performing a concert with the colors as her audience.

“This must be it!” said the pirate who was overjoyed and leapt to the sea to ask the woman about treasures.

This must be the Underwater Rainbow

The woman was shocked and the fishes scattered. What the pirate doesn’t know is that the woman is a sea goddess who guards the treasures in the island.

Angered by the pirate, the sea goddess’s eyes turned red then grabbed the pirate’s neck. She has the power to turn anyone to a dead coral by searching evil in one’s heart.

She got surprised that her power doesn’t have any effect on him.  She started letting him go with a face filled with wonder.

“I haven’t encountered anyone who survived my power – why did you come here?” said the sea goddess.

“I’m just looking for treasures, do you know where it is?” said the pirate.

“It’s all around us,” the sea goddess replied.

Me and my New Friend the Sea goddess playing at the Underwater Rainbow.

The pirate looked around and realized that the island is full of bright and colorful fishes. It glowed like diamonds, rubies and emeralds, he felt very rich and alive.

He and the goddess became friends and had fun with the fishes. He finally understood the island’s real treasures are the fishes and promised the sea goddess that he will help her preserve and protect them.

He left the island filled with the treasures in his heart of the wonderful experience he had in the underwater rainbow.

Preparing to Leave

Suddenly, large tentacles of a giant squid grabbed his boat and he found himself getting dragged in the depths of the sea.

Like a kid who got out of Narnia, EJ woke up from his dream only to realize that the goddess is shouting at him because he’ll be late for work if he doesn’t get up immediately.

Making a big yawn with puffy eyes, he stood up and went to the kitchen realizing that he gets to keep some of the treasures in his tummy as well.

Bringing the Underwater Rainbow Home