Pelagic Shark Dive (no cage)
Swimming with Sharks in the wild… come on!! What else do I need to say, right?!
Since booking our flights to Hawaii, the first thing I said to Angel was “let’s go shark diving!”, she was not very exited, but the more I researched it, the more exited I got. So… I took the plunge and I booked our Pelagic Shark dive with Hawaii Adventure Diving. Just like the Pali Notches Hike (article coming soon), we decided to put it in our schedule and see how we felt that day (weather, mood, energy, place/staff, etc) and then decide if we actually going do it or not.
This adventure started out was a normal day in Oahu, kind of cloudy, kind of rainy, but totally awesome vibe. When we arrived we met the staff. After meeting the staff we decided to get back to the car and get our snorkeling gear.
After a quick debrief as expected, we started our ride to the diving site, the captain of the boat found a couple of sharks, the other guy (mike ?) jumped into the water to analyze shark behavior and make sure everything was fine, they gave us the green light to get into the water ( I was all geared up and at the ledge of the boat by the way) and so we jumped.
As soon as I entered into the water a Sandbar Shark started swimming towards me, “s**t” I thought, but following the staff instructions I remained calm, and maintaining my posture we just played chicken and he swam away when he was getting really really close, after that as you can imagine I felt very confident about the whole thing. That feeling allowed me to have the best time in the water swimming with these majestic animals, who I had admired for so long. This experience was not only on my to-do list, but was a long time goal/dream. I couldn’t hold my excitement in the water, I tried to swing along with them several times, several feet deep.
There were moments when we had 5 or 6 sharks swimming around us and a very curious Barracuda, which by the way, they’re very big. Some of the sharks were very comfortable and were swimming 1 or 2 meters away from us. Those minutes were some of the best 45 minutes I have had in my life so far.
I received my ticket to Hawaii as a gift (from Efren). Until this point, visiting the Hawaiian islands was a mere fantasy. Although I had guiltily checked the ticket prices a few times over the course of the last 5 years, actually going was well out of my price range so I never put any real thought into what adventures awaited me IF I ever did get there. For Efren this was not the case. He brought up shark diving almost instantly after our trip was official–more than 100 days before our flights. Because I am an the adventurous type (also one who will try most things once), I acknowledged his excitement and told him I would think about it. After doing the research we discovered the cost was virtually the same to ride out on the boat and not swim as it was to swim. After this discovery I told him book me a ticket, it was too much money not to swim. However, I held on to the stipulation that I may chicken out. Efren accepted this grinning.
Per my request we went several days after arriving in Hawaii so I could get acquainted with snorkeling and being in ocean before literally jumping into shark infested waters. Efren grew up swimming in ocean and felt much more at home than I did. I grew up on lakes in the cold mid-west, drastically different than the ocean. After a week in Hawaii the day had come….we were going on a shark dive. I tried hard to not think about it all before hand. I went through the motions of any other day: grabbed my suit, water shoes, snorkel, and towel. I felt more at ease after meeting the two men who staffed the boat. They explained they did these adventures up to 5 times daily several months out of the year and a couple time daily in the off season. Their experienced showed. A crew member got in water and quickly motioned for us to follow. Efren was the first one in! I felt like I had to follow so I went next. It was hard to navigate my way off the boat holding a camera, putting my mask on, trying not to fall in due to the large waves, and get my fins on the edge of the boat. This chaos served as distraction until the moment I hit the water….
When I went in there was shark just out of arms reach. I had to remind myself to breath, because after all, I am laying the surface of the waves a mile out to sea with sharks. You quickly come to realize two things: how small you really in and how helpless you are. I am unsure what I expected, but I can say I didn’t expect the sharks to get so close or dense. At one time I counted 6 sharks. I chose to never let go of the yellow knotted rope that acted as a barrier as to how far we were allowed to swim away from the boat. I felt just that much safer knowing I had eliminated above as an angle a shark could approach from. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of terror and exhilaration that sweeps over as you watch an 8 foot shark swim eye level with you right at your face.
- Listen to the guides, they know what they are talking about and remembering their words helps keep you as safe as possible
- Take medicine for motion sickness before you go! It was about an hour and a half total of riding up and down on 4 foot waves (I almost threw up)
- If you don’t have a Go-Pro, ask! You may be able to rent one for around 50$… you won’t regret it
- If you get cold you might want to get a wet-suit. You are in the water a full 40 minutes.