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It’s inevitable that you’ll clock in some pool or beach time when you’re on vacation, but why not take your swim to the next level? Many warm weather destinations around the world offer the opportunity to experience a swim with cute (and wild!) animals. From snorkeling with sea turtles to taking a dip with wild pigs, here are six of the best places where you can swim with animals:

Also: Diving with great white sharks in South Africa
 

pig beach

Just some pigs hogging the beach

Get piggy with it in Exuma, the Bahamas

On an uninhabited island in Exuma, the Bahamas, about 20 pigs and piglets roam the land—which is why this spot is nicknamed ‘Pig Beach.’ Tour guides bring vacationers to the island, where they can feed the pigs and swim alongside them. The activity is gaining popularity, especially after the pigs were featured in Pitbull’s “Timber” video a couple of years ago.

leopard sharks-la jolla san diego

Can you “spot” the leopard shark? | Flickr CC: Jon Apon

Become a leopard shark fin-atic in La Jolla, California

If you’re going to swim with sharks, leopard sharks are your safest bet. The small sea creatures are pretty harmless and can be found in the waters of San Diego’s scenic La Jolla community primarily at La Jolla Shores. The best time to find them is during the summer when the ocean water is warm, and it’s easy to “spot” them (get it?) via kayak or while snorkeling.

florida manatee

Holy cow!

Have a cow in Crystal River, Florida

The waters in Central Florida’s Crystal River are crystal clear (pun intended!), making them a great spot to have a peek at the state’s population of manatees (aka sea cows). The river is also known as the largest gathering area of manatees in the U.S. (and the only place where it’s legal to swim alongside the protected animals), so whether you’re snorkeling or swimming (within a certain amount of distance), chances are you’ll encounter quite a few new friends.

kona hawaii mantaray

Illuminating rays of plankton for the manta rays | Flickr CC: Basher Tome

Play with a ray in Kona, Hawaii

Night time is the right time to view manta rays in Kona, Hawaii. When it’s dark, spotlights are used to attract the underwater creatures, who feed off the nearby plankton illuminated by the light. The friendly manta rays can be up to around 14-feet wide in size and often swim within inches of snorkelers and scuba divers.

See the sea turtles

Don’t forget to take a shelfie | Flickr CC: Sean O’Shaughnessy

“Sea” a turtle in Barbados

If you want to swim with sea turtles, there are more than a dozen tour companies to choose from in Barbados. The majority of them provide lunch, masks and snorkels, making your date with the turtles the perfect family-friendly excursion. Thanks to the combination of the calm waters on the west coast of the island and the friendliness of the turtles, it’s very easy for tourists to swim alongside them.

Stingray City-cayman islands

They don’t call it Stingray City for nothing | Flickr CC: Craig D

Get fishy with stingrays in the Cayman Islands

Stingrays aren’t normally visible to swimmers, but brave tourists can get close to them at the Stingray City dive sites (a series of shallow sandbars) in Grand Cayman. Divers and snorkelers in this part of the Cayman Islands can not only swim alongside the stingrays, but can also feed them.

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Tagged: California, Caribbean, Hawaii

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Kevin Aeh

Kevin Aeh

Kevin Aeh is an editor/writer based in New York City. He covers lifestyle, travel, and pop culture; and his current obsessions include finding the best eye cream, booking a trip to Cuba, and binge-watching Lady Dynamite on Netflix. His writing has appeared in Time Out New York, Furthermore from Equinox, Refinery29, Vulture, and more.

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