I had my heart set on diving with sharks for some time. The issue being that its crazy expensive and I hate scuba diving, despite this I got my PADI open water license a few years ago while I was in Thailand and have completed a few dives since. Each time left wondering why I put myself through this? I am not a big fan of being underwater or having to regulate my breathing or being in confined space (I know I know the ocean is massive right, but you try putting on a mask and having weights and metal tanks strapped to you it starts to feel fairly confined to me). Illogical as it is both the confined feeling and the fact that the ocean is massive and all it would take is one strong current to separate me and I could end up miles from where I started, bother me in equal amounts. Quite frankly I find the whole thing down right terrifying! Add this all to the fact that I get incredibly seas sick both on boats and whilst swimming with scuba gear on and you have potentially the world’s worst diving candidate. But then I remember why I do it: It’s the pretty fishies! After a few dives on the barrier reef I resigned myself to the fact that id seen the prettiest fishies around and I probably wouldn’t be diving again. However after a last minute holiday to Fiji was booked and by chance we drove past a billboard for Shark Diving, I suddenly forgot all the fears and signed straight up!
We headed out on a tiny boat in the AM and within minutes I was hurling over the side, great start! As I was shakily checking my tanks and getting geared up, taking breaks all the time to continue hurling over the side, I was left wondering again what the hell I was doing. Not only was I on a boat again, I was about to dive off that boat again and into shark infested waters, it suddenly dawned on me that this might not be the brightest idea although it was more the diving that the sharks that was scaring me! Of course I was already there and I sure as hell wasn’t sitting on the boat for next 3 hours so I jumped in, masked up and went under.
Despite a few hiccups on the way down (mostly me struggling to regulate my balance and throwing up into my breathing piece) eventually we reached the first plateau and lay on our stomach flat on the floor, with hands tucked in as we had been shown before. As the dive masters began to swim around with huge chucks of bait we began to see big shadows circling, getting closer and closer until 4-5 sharks were swimming around in front of us eagerly snapping up all the bait. They paid absolutely no notice to us swimming right alongside and above us, they also had none of the menace or scare factor that I had imagine and in fact all I could think was about how supremely elegant they were. It was a real Wow moment, not only seeing the sharks and being close to them but learning that they had a completely different manner than I thought they would. After the bait was all gone we waited patiently for the sharks to disperse, and whilst waiting a whole variety of other fish descended into the area to clean up the small bits of bait the sharks had left behind, they also completely ignored us and as we were completely stationary lying flat on the floor the more inquisitive ones came right up to our goggles and swam all around us. We saw seven varieties of shark ranging from reef sharks to tiger sharks at 3 different level plateau’s. At one point the diver masters threw bait above each of our heads and a shark headed towards us jaws open and snapped shut just above us.
Despite all the circumstance this is one of the best travel experience I’ve ever had and it completely surpassed all my expectations and was almost the complete opposite to what I was expecting, its convinced me maybe diving is worth is as long as there’s a chance to spots some sharks!!
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This article has been written to recognise the author’s contribution to travel and tourism by Avis Car Hire on the A-List Awards 2013.