No Cages, No Fear. My Experience Swimming with Sharks

Never did I think I would swim with sharks without protective gear or a metal barrier, but the thrilling experience was completely worth it.

swim with sharks
INSTAGRAM seastar_cruises

Thrill seekers can find their adrenaline rush anywhere, but for me, I travelled halfway across the world to the Great Barrier Reef. Now some may say swimming in shark-infested waters is risky, but my family and I were up for the challenge.

A few years back, we traveled to Cairns, Australia looking for fun and adventure. Cairns is the perfect spot to explore the Great Barrier Reef, so we booked a small group charter snorkeling tour with Seastar Cruises to see as much as possible.

The snorkeling adventure was eye opening; it was so cool to see such an abundance of vibrant sea life. We travelled to 3 different locations throughout the day, each with their own distinct characteristics. The guides were extremely experienced and helpful in pointing out different habitats; even taking us to an area that was only underwater during high tide.

My favorite location, however, was the last one of the day. Upon arriving, we quickly hopped off the boat and began feeding the fish around us, trying to ensure we would have the best possible turnout of sea creatures. What I didn’t realize in doing this was that when we fed the fish, we also were encouraging other types of sea life to emerge.

My family and I began exploring the area with a guide and came upon a large coral formation not far from the boat. The guide swam down about 5 feet to look under the formation, then instructed us that there was a reef shark 3 meters long just below us. When I heard this, I assumed the guide meant 3 feet long, so I immediately swam down to get a closer look. I got down and turned my head to the right to see a massive, 9 foot long shark staring right back at me. I screamed through my snorkel and swam to the surface, my entire family laughing. The shark then circled our group for about a minute, with all of us in awe being so close to this large creature without a cage or protective gear. Adrenaline running through our veins, we let our curious nature take over and spent hours snorkeling, encountering 3 smaller sharks along the way.

I was so amazed by how peaceful the animals were and how safe I felt despite the giant sharks swimming a foot away from me. After reminiscing, we decided that we were never scared of the encounter, more just engrossed by the amazing wildlife surrounding us. Never did I think I would swim with sharks without protective gear or a metal barrier, but the thrilling experience was completely worth it.

Elena Saavedra


Elena is also the face behind Instagram @travel_without_a_passport who vows to try one new food a week. She's traveled the world from swimming with sharks to grabbing a cool cocktail in hidden bar in Barcelona.

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