3 Places to View Marine Life Up Close and Personal
Shark Alley, South Africa
If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing a great white shark up close, Shark Alley is the place for you. As the name implies, this thin stretch of water between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock in South Africa is heavily populated with sharks, especially great whites. Although it is illegal to free-dive in this area, there are many cage diving operators in the nearby mainland of Gansbaai that will gladly help you get a face-to-face encounter with a great white. Sharks aren’t the only sea animal you can meet in Shark Alley. The nearby Geyser Rock is home to around 60,000 cape fur seals and across the channel, you’ll find Dyer Island, a bird sanctuary home to a colony of around 5,000 African penguins. Although both islands are protected and not accessible to the public, their wildlife can often be observed from a boat while on Shark Alley.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Interacting with marine life in Puerto Vallarta is one of the many opportunities found there. Marine life is abundant in Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay. You can go snorkeling or scuba diving alongside many different species of fish, a variety of sea turtles and even bottle-nose, spotted and dusty dolphins in these warm Pacific waters. Banderas Bay is also an important breeding and calving ground for humpback whales. From December through March, visitors may be treated to an up-close encounter with these gentle giants through one of the many whale-watching programs to be found on Puerto Vallarta. Once out of the water, visitors can take adventure tours and excursions around the area to take in the natural beauty this region has to offer. Take in a breathtaking view of the jungle canopy on a zip line, take a trip to El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary for a close encounter with native wildlife or enjoy a relaxing ride down to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
Citrus County, Florida
A one-of-a-kind experience awaits you in Florida’s Crystal River at the King’s Bay Wildlife Refuge. Not only is it home to the largest population of manatees in the winter, you’ll even find a few resident manatees that stick around during the summer months. Snorkel in the river’s shallow waters alongside these unforgettable creatures year-round; some even get close enough to let you touch them! Crystal River is the only place in the US where you can legally swim with these highly endangered marine mammals.