While most of us learned everything we wanted to know about sharks from the movie Jaws, Hawaiians have a different idea about these creatures of the deep. In Hawaiian mythology, sharks figure prominently featuring men who could freely transform from shark to man and back. This reverence for these misunderstood predators continues today with many companies offering the opportunity to swim with the sharks.
Swimming with the Sharks
For those going to take the plunge, you want to allow at least two hours and have more than one day available, as certain weather conditions may cause the tours to reschedule. Many tours have no age limit and require no prior diving experience, so it is good for the whole family. There are also tours which have cage configurations to allow those who do not swim to enjoy the fun also.
Most tours take off in the early morning to take advantage of the clearer conditions. The tour boat guide will brief you on the safety precautions to follow and pass out snorkels and masks, while the boat travels generally about three miles off shore. Then, it is time to dive in. Depending on the tour, about two to eight people will enter the shark cage.
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What to Expect
The fun begins immediately. Most tours go to the same spot everyday and the sharks, used to the sounds of the boats, swim up quickly to greet the new visitors. On a perfect day, guests can see the sharks swim up from about 500 feet down. While most people will probably have their adrenaline pumping at this point, the fear turns to awe as the sharks swim closely by and inspect the cage.
The sharks, not interested in eating people as it is not on their normal menu, show no aggression and show their curious nature and intelligence by simply staying close to the boat and studying the people. This is an experience not to be missed and will be remembered for a lifetime. So, bring your underwater cameras.