By Angie Jaime
Orbitz is celebrating Discovery Channel’s Shark Week this year with a list of locations for the adventurous. A Discovery Channel treat that many eagerly await — not unlike ravenous sharks, Shark Week brings tales from shark attack survivors, great whites blasting from the water and even shark-themed favorites like Mythbusters. If you’ve always loved Shark Week, now’s the time to get off the couch and see them up close like no amount of HD magic can reproduce.
Jump right in…
- South Africa’s shark whisperers: Gansbaii’s “shark whisperers” interact with the oft-misunderstood great white sharks that inhabit the seas off the coast of South Africa. They serve to raise awareness about shark conservationism through their tours. Great white sharks are protected in the waters of South Africa, and diving outside of cages is only allowed with a special permit.
- Cage dives with great whites in Australia: From an island off the coast of Port Lincoln, Australia, the excursions led by Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions take visitors right into the thick of the action. For visitors with the diving experience and the guts, their special cage is lowered into the depths of the ocean. From there, visitors are surrounded by giant smooth rays and inevitably, great white sharks. But if you can’t muster up the courage, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland is full of the relatively harmless reef shark.
- Wale shark adventure in Cancun, Mexico: The wale shark, which yearly visits the warm waters near Cancun, is one of the biggest fish on earth today. Visitors can swim with these gentle giants free from a cage–they feed mostly on plankton and are very friendly with swimmers.
- Hawaii shark tours: Departing from Haleiwa harbor on Oahu’s north shore, Hawaii Shark Encounter offers deep-sea cage diving a few times a day. This is shark diving for beginners–no scuba certification required.
If your travel plans don’t include a beach vacation but you’re still hungry for sharks, these coastal-copies are surprisingly thrilling.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium adventures: From kelp forests to sandy seafloors and everything in between, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has sharks of almost every variety. Here, you can check out all kinds of predators that keep these rich coral reef ecosystems healthy.
- Shark Lagoon at the Aquarium of the Pacific: This exhibit in Long Beach is for those who want to get so close, you can touch them. On display are over 150 different sharks that you can actually touch, and plenty of others you probably would never want to.
- Downtown Aquarium shark dives in Denver: Scuba dive into their sunken shipwreck for encounters with sharks of all kinds. But before you go, make sure you’re SCUBA certified.
- Las Vegas: Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is North America’s only predator-based aquarium, where you can see sharks of all kinds. There’s a total of over 2,000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of seawater. The Pool at the Golden Nugget: The notorious Golden Nugget pool is now The Tank–a massive complex complete with shark tank and 3-story water-slide.
- Atlanta:Planet Shark, at the Georgia Aquarium (the world’s largest aquarium) is in it’s final weeks so you’ll have to hurry to catch this one. The exhibit, which includes insights into shark conservation efforts is also displaying authentic props from the movie Jaws.
- Jaws ride at Universal Studios, Orlando: If a water ride is more up your alley, consider this the sharkiest one in the world. But if it’s nerves that keep you from visiting sharks, this thrilling ride takes your worst fears and spins them like only a theme-park could.
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Angie Jaime is an editorial intern at Orbitz. A lifelong traveler, she’s been surfing in Hawaii, hiking in Mexico and backpacking through Europe.