Hopping in the ocean for a dip is a great bit of fun, but for a truly amazing experience you should head a little further out to sea and get face to face with some of nature’s friendliest underwater creatures. Here are some animals you can safely swim alongside of under the ocean depths.
DolphinsDolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, which might explain why they seem so eager to play along with humans when we jump into the water with them. They’re playful, usually non-violent and often go out of their way to approach people they see in the ocean. Careful, though, because they’re a rowdy bunch and have been known to dry hump anything that moves.
Humpback WhalesWe’re going to go ahead and say you should do this one at your own risk. Humpback whales are peaceful and certainly don’t eat humans, but they’re so large they might run you over before even noticing you’re there. However, if you’re interested there are plenty of diving tours that allow you to get up close and personal with these big fellas.
Tiger SharksYou probably wouldn’t want to get face to face with a Great White without some metal bars between you, but tiger sharks are actually pretty friendly. They’re known to get a little too curious on occasion, but they’ll get up out of your personal space with a little friendly shove. Just make sure you hand over your chum before they try and take it from you without asking.
Sea TurtlesSea Turtles are endangered all across the world, but if you’re lucky you can sign up for a rescue effort that’ll help bring awareness to the plight of these large guys. They’re entirely safe to swim with, but it’s important to keep interactions to a minimum so you don’t disrupt their environment. Sign up for a voluntourism trip and find ways to help them flourish in the wild.
Manta RaysTobago and the Grand Turks are two hot spots for manta ray sightings. These strange looking creatures flock to both areas throughout the year and aren’t afraid to slide up close to shore to say “hi”. Unlike Sting Rays, they don’t have stingers. You still don’t want to touch them, though, because the protective membranes on their bodies can fall off when they come into contact with humans. They have to worry about us, not the other way around, so be kind and don’t try to pet them.
Hammerhead SharksHammerheads might look ferocious, but they’re rarely aggressive and actually enjoy approaching humans underwater. You can feed and stroke them without getting hurt. The Galapagos and Cocos Islands are two the premier hammerhead diving spots in the world if you’re interested in giving it a shot. As friendly as they can be, they’re still predators so make sure you’re going down with a trained instructor.
JellyfishThere’s a place where you can swim with jellyfish without fear of being stung. It’s appropriately called Jellyfish Lake and it’s located in the Rock Islands of Palau. Here, the jellyfish have lost their stingers somewhere over the last 12,000 years, making it perfectly safe to jump in for a dip. You can get up close and personal, but you probably shouldn’t touch them otherwise you could cause them harm. Just slap on a snorkel and you’re good to go!