June 2 2009 by Mike Mason
I wouldn't refer to myself as an extremely adventurous person. Sure, I like an occasional adrenaline rush as much as the next guy, but when planning my vacations, they usually don't involve a slate of extreme activities. I go on vacation, first and foremost, to relax. So, on my first trip to Hawaii, a member of my family suggested I try something out of my comfort zone (and frankly a bit scary). They suggested I arrange an outing to swim with the sharks. Along with the tourist musts for Hawaii, like lazing on the beaches, taking in the beauty of the islands and sampling a luau, it was a bit unsettling to sign up for an activity that also shares a phrase used by movie gangsters.
I was still second guessing the idea even as we got in the car and headed out that morning to the loading point on the North Shore. But there was a part of me that was really excited about doing something that was a bit out there. Hey, that's part of what makes travel so enticing. Upon arriving at the location, I noted the boat seemed smaller than I anticipated, but the cage strapped on the back of the boat indicated that we were at the right place.
I was part of a group of other thrill seeking tourists, made up mostly of adults, but there was one young boy about 9 or 10 years old in the bunch. Maybe this wasn't so dangerous after all.
We loaded up and the guides from North Shore Shark Adventures gave us the rundown of rules and guidelines for getting in and out of the cage and for interacting with the sharks, all peppered with the expected punch lines that can only be developed over years of hauling groups of anxious tourists a few miles off shore to shark invested waters! Ohhhhh!
I have to admit I was really excited, but somewhat relieved that I would be going in the second group in the cage and not the first. This gave me the opportunity to see how all this worked before I had to take the plunge myself. I was also relieved that I had practiced with a snorkel before coming out, so that was one less thing I had to worry about.
The guides mentioned that sharks had become conditioned over the years to swim to the surface when they heard the boat's motor approaching. But for good measure they threw some chum out in the water as an added catalyst. As the first group got ready to descend into the cage the guides queued up the Jaws theme from the boats stereo system. I was having a great time. And when I saw the first fins come out of the water, I knew it was going to be memorable.
When it was my turn to get in the cage, it didn't disappoint. There were plenty of sharks, some swimming within inches of the plexi-glass and metal bars. Due to rain the night before, the water was a tad more green color than its normal crystal blue, but still offered plenty to see.
After about 20 minutes in the cage, I noticed I started to feel a bit sea sick. The waves of the ocean and trying to balance yourself inside the cage jostle you around, but I hardly noticed with so much to see. Overall, this part of the adventure proved a bit too much for the young boy in the group. Therefore, I would recommend this activity for teenagers and up.
If you are looking for a jolt of excitement to go along with your calm walks on the beach next time you are in Hawaii, check out North Shore Shark Adventures.