Destination: Shark Viewing!
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For fans of the ocean's apex predators, sometimes watching shows, movies, and reading books just isn't enough. There is nothing quite like experiencing the majesty of sharks like a real life encounter--as long as it's not unexpected and in open water! Even if you don't live anywhere near a beach, there are plenty of incredible destinations, both near and far, where you can see your favorite creatures up close and personally. We rounded up some of the most stunning locations to experience sharks, both behind glass and under the waves. So as you're planning your post-holiday vacations, consider harnessing an adventurous spirit and head to one of these exciting locations.

Layang-Layang, Malaysia

Located in waters 2,000 meters deep, Layang Layang is a breathtaking atoll of thirteen connected coral reefs. The resort island is part of the six hundred South China Sea's islands, reefs, commonly known as The Spratlys. Colloquially known as Swallow Reef for the meaning of it's name, this is the best spot in the world to see hammerhead sharks. While the atoll itself isn't all that large, only covering an area of approximately fourteen square kilometers, it's waters are rich in marine life, creating the diving experience of a lifetime. The reef is intensely protected, and has never been fished or polluted, which has resulted in virgin biodiversity, securing it's reputation as the healthiest reef in Malaysia. The visibility is nearly flawless, which is perfect for viewing the schools of hammerheads known to cruise the reefs. The Gorgonian Forest is the most popular dive spot for sharks, with strong currents drawing in larger fish as well. Bottlebrush coral, giant clams, hawksbill turtles, and countless reef fish make an unforgettable landscape that will take the breath away from any dive aficionado.

Oahu, Hawaii

The third largest of Hawaii's islands boasts an impressive shark population. More than forty species of sharks call the waters surrounding Oahu home, including reef sharks, sandbar sharks, and hammerheads. North Shore Shark Adventures is so confident about their shark population, that will actually give you your money back if you don’t have a shark sighting on their tour. Three miles out to sea from Haleiwa Boat Harbor, you and up to eight others can huddle up in a dive cage for a twenty minute encounter under the waves with local sea life. The site is not just known for sharks, but dolphins and humpback whales, too. Luckily, all ages and levels of diving experience are welcome, so this is the perfect treat for shark-friendly families. But if you long for an even more adventurous activity, Hawaii Shark Encounters has state-of-the-art poly glass floating cages, where you can reach through the glass to touch interested sharks.

Georgia Aquarium

If swimming isn't your thing, head to beautiful Atlanta, GA to visit the stunning aquarium. With more than eight millions gallons of marine and fresh water, the Georgi Aquarium hosts more aquatic life than any other aquarium in the United States. For shark fans, be sure to scope out their resident whale shark. Due to their size and special needs, whale sharks are only found in two aquariums in the world. Located in the Ocean Voyager, an exhibit specially designed for the majesty of the enormous breed, you can view them through an acrylic tunnel, up close and personal. The whale shark is kept company by manta ray, stingrays, hammerhead sharks, and other magnificent sea life. For an extra fun treat, check out the aquarium's overnight sleepovers, where you can explore even more of their creatures after dark.

Mandalay Bay Shark Reef

Attention, Vegas lovers! The Mandalay Bay Hotel has the only predator-based aquarium in North America, with over two thousand different types of sea life, including an impressive assortment of sharks. They offer education courses, guided tours, and shark diving for certified divers. Their Shipwreck Exhibit is home to over thirty sharks, including white tip reef sharks, sand tigers, and sandbars, as well as sawfish, beautiful sea turtles, and rays. One of the coolest features in the diver's view tunnels, which allow those of us who prefer to stay on dry land and unparalleled view of their impressive tank. Expertly curated with a sinking temple motif, this walk is soothing, otherworldly, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best part? Prices for admission start as low as just $20, making it a great destination for a family on a budget. Be sure to check out the touch pool exhibit for some hands on fun, as well as their majestic golden crocodiles, piranha, and over fifteen species of deep water predators.

Even if you aren't able to travel out of state or country for a shark encounter, check out your local aquariums or zoos for information on how to view your favorite sea life--you might be surprised at what you're able to find in your own back yard.

Shark Facts

The dangerous act of swimming in cold water can actually boost the odds of survival for a shark attack victim. The cold water causes your body temperature to drop. You'll be at risk for hypothermia, but your blood loss will slow down, buying you some time for rescue.

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