When it comes to bucket-list adventures, swimming with sharks is near the top for a lot of adrenaline junkies. Many of the adventures on the list require scuba diving, but at some locations, even non-divers with a desire to get up close and personal with the top of the food chain can jump in and face their fears.
I don't want to scare the non-shark lovers away from the beauty of the Bahamas, but there are sharks out there. From least scary to the most, here's where to get your Bahamian shark fix.
Compass Cay Marina is home to a large number of well-fed, friendly nurse sharks. In case you don't know it, a nurse shark is more like a giant catfish than a great white. You can walk right into the shallow water near the fish-cleaning station and pet these gentle guys.
Stuart Cove's in Nassau has been doing shark dives safely for decades. Caribbean reef sharks feed on fish-on-a-stick as divers kneel in the sand in awe. Reef sharks are some of the least aggressive species of shark.
As your fear subsides and you crave more sharks and more excitement, check out the folks at Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures in Fort Lauderdale. They operate live-aboard dive boats with regularly scheduled shark trips in the Bahamas. Expect to see tigers and hammerheads, as well as the Caribbean reef sharks.
There are several shark species in the Pacific waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Sightings of tigers, hammerheads, blues, and even great whites are not all that uncommon.
And While divers can expect to see these guys almost anywhere while diving in Hawaii, the Oahu's North Shore is the place to be for cage diving. Hawaii Shark Encounters takes shark education seriously and strives to educate customers about the need for shark conservation while providing a thrilling swim with sharks inside the safety of a cage. No diving skills are required－just bring your courage.
Scuba diving in Fiji is a definite bucket-list adventure for many divers－and the fish many hope to see most is shark. Beqa Adventure Divers can make that happen for you. Sharks are protected in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, so no worries about questionable practices. This is an uncaged dive, but per the company's website, it is a carefully managed feed, where participants observe, but do not interact with the sharks.
Home to a large population of great whites, the waters off the Mexico's Baja coast, attract divers willing to brave cold Pacific waters for some time in a cage watching the top fish of the ocean.
Nautilus Live Aboards operates six-day adventures from July to November using submersible cages that descend to about 9 meters for a better opportunity to observe the sharks. You meet the expedition in San Diego, motor to Ensenada, cruise to Guadalupe, then spend three full days in the cages watching the predators. Non-divers are allowed, as air is supplied by hoses attached to the boat, but a minimum of a Discover Scuba course is recommended.