Swimming with Sharks

Aloha! Do you like sharks? Would you pay money to swim with them? I did!

I’ve never had a deathly fear of sharks, but I’ve always had a healthy respect for them. Swimming with them off the North Shore of Oahu was just one of those activities that I thought might be a pretty good time. My friends and I filled up the boat and we took off, laughing and joking about those who appeared more nervous. Along the way, we spotted whale spouts and a couple of them raising their tails! As soon as we stopped the boat, I saw a shark fin pop out of the water. It suddenly felt very real!

The hardest part was that split-second moment when you just have to let go and slip into the water, knowing there are sharks below but not knowing EXACTLY where they are! There were two sharks when I got in – a galapagos shark and a sandbar shark. The sandbar shark took off as we were all coming into the water, but the galapagos stuck around and just circled around, pretty close under our toes! They teach you to look the sharks in the eyes so that you discourage their advantage of a surprise attack. I have to say, when I first got in and the galapagos took a turn toward me, I felt my insides clench up when I stared it in the eyes. After that first moment, though, I swam out to our rope (there was a strong current that day) and held on. I was surrounded by friends and felt much more relaxed. It was actually pretty calming watching the shark glide beautifully around us. There was only one other moment where I felt mildly nervous: when the shark mistook a piece of algae as food, and that algae was right in front of me. I could read a sudden shift in its body language, it suddenly moved with purpose and made a quick beeline for that algae before realizing it wasn’t food. It quickly swam away. It gave me the closest view of the shark from the side and I was amazed at how much bigger it was up close!!! I didn’t realize HOW close it was until my friend showed me a video later that day. You can see it in the video. After the closeup of the shark with the algae, there’s a clip of a snorkeler (me!) holding out the GoPro Dome and the shark’s fin comes within a foot of my hand! Whoa! I seriously couldn’t tell I was that close. It makes me feel brave! Haha!

In addition to keeping us safe around the sharks, our guide helped me free swim down deeper than I ever have. I’d never equalized before and to be honest, I felt more panicked about going deep than being around the sharks. I know I wasn’t very deep and didn’t stay for long – baby steps – but having the chance to glance up and see a wavy blue ceiling high above me was pretty cool.

On the way home, we had a wonderful sight! A playful pod of dolphins was leaping all over the place, and they were followed by a pair of whales who got pretty close to the boat and gave us a little wave before they went deep. We were ecstatic! What a day!

I definitely want to do this again before I leave the island. We’ve heard the summer waters are better and the females come around more the time of year – and they are bigger and feistier! Haha, I never thought I’d hear myself saying I can’t wait to get into more shark-infested waters, but this really was a beautiful experience to personalize sharks more. If you head to Oahu, check this activity out!

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