Get over Jaws. Sharks rarely attack humans, are vital to the marine eco-system, and as any diver will tell you, a thrill to meet in their natural habitat. With rampant shark finning, the entire species is at risk. Encounter them underwater, and you’ll quickly realize just how beautiful, and harmless sharks really are.
Mossel Bay, South Africa, Great White
The coast of South Africa’s Eastern Cape is full of Great White Sharks, the most feared predator in the ocean. Cage diving is popular and while thrilling, is completely safe. Years later, I can still see that Great White coming towards me, literally rattling my cage.
Malapascua Island, Philippines, Threshers
A stunning tropical island, Malapascua is the only place where you can dive with thresher sharks every day, due to “cleaning stations” that attract the sharks in nearby Monad Shoal. Shy around divers, threshers are known for their distinctive tail.
Shark Reef, Fiji
For those looking for variety, Fiji’s Shark Reef Marine Reserve has a regular shark population of 8 different species: Whitetip Reef, Blacktip Reef, Grey Reef, Tawny Nurse, Sicklefin Lemon, Silvertip, Bull and Tiger sharks are all found in the reserve.
Galapagos Islands,, Hammerheads
During the December to May season, divers on live-aboards yachts around Darwin and Wolf Islands can find themselves in the water with thousands of hammerheads. Aggressive predators for marine life , hammerheads do not attack humans unless provoked.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico, Whale sharks
From June to September, hundreds of whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea, gather north of Isla Mujeres to feed in waters rich with plankton. Tour companies let you snorkel with the sharks, although you are not allowed to touch them.
Flora Islet BC, Six Gill Sharks
Divers hope to encounter elusive six gill sharks in the emerald waters off Vancouver Island. Typically found in deeper waters these ancient-looking sharks can grow to over 6m in length. Thanks to the Scuba Diver Girls for this great video of a sevengill shark dive off La Jolla Cove, California.
Grand Bahama, Tiger Sharks
Fierce Tiger sharks gather by the hundreds in the warm, clear waters of “Tiger Beach”, a dive site popular with cage diving operators. Experienced, less timid divers can leave the cage and be surrounded by Tigers, who are not afraid to get up close and personal.
Credit: Klaus Steifel/Flickr
Palau – Reef sharks
With 50 metre plus visibility clear Palau is renowned as one of the best diving locations in the world. Since establishing the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2001, it’s also one of the best places to dive with sharks.
Instagram needs a new filter to turn any picture into a Caribbean island paradise. They should call it "Anguilla." I'm here for a few days to explore its dive sites, and learn a little about this understated, off-radar island that attracts celebrities, honeymooners and urban escapees with opulent villas, lavish resorts, and 13,500 inhabitants who are so laid back even their trigger fish are uncoiled.
Westjet flies direct from Toronto to San Maarten, and it's a short 20-minute boat ride to the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla. The tax haven is only 26km long by 5km wide, with one main road running through the middle. There are no mountains, and hardly any traffic. What it does have is 33 mind blowing beaches, dreamy tropical weather, fat mangos and proudly, no chain hotels, burger joints or coffee shops.
"This is what everyone wants the Caribbean to be," says Patrick Lynch, who owns Roy's Bayside Grill. "White sands with nobody on it."
The sentiment is echoed by Jim, a television director who's been visiting the island with his family for 15 years. Celebrities love the island's lack of pretentiousness and relative privacy, which explains why actress Annie Potts gave me her sunscreen. A strong summer sun was baking my back onboard Dougie's boat, returning from our incredible couple dive at Dog Island. Every dive delivered the goods, be it the 200ft wreck of the MV Sarah, the dozen turtles who played with us on the 75ft Oosterdiep wreck, or the lobster, barracuda and countless fish feeding off the MV Commerce. The island's three dive companies - Shoal Bay Scuba, Special D and Vigilint - were knowledgeable, professional and fun to hang out with. Like other locals I met, these guys love what they do, and love where they live. Dive sites, including a half dozen amazing wrecks, were easy to get to, and ideal for recreational divers like me.
Anguilla has three, pricey five-star resorts that are extraordinary: The Viceroy, Cap Juluca, and the sprawling CuisinArt, owned by the same chap behind the appliances. Picture infinity pools, white brushed villas, expensive cocktails and swept powder beaches. I stayed at the more affordable Anacoana Boutique Hotel, centrally located, comfortable and rather less flashy. Their packages are worth checking out.
I'm not exactly sure how Anguilla came to be a foodie island because I spent too much time eating to find out. Standout meals were at the Straw Hut, Jacala (my new friend and fabulous underwater photographer Nadia Aly swears their mahi-mahi is the best thing she's ever had), CuisinArt's Le Bistro (the lobster was sensational) Roy's Bayside Grill, Smokey's and the Firefly. Deep fried Johnny cakes, fresh fish, peas and rice and that sweet hot Caribbean sauce...no wonder locals are always smiling.
I found myself swimming under the stars, and scuba diving with bioluminescence under a bright supermoon. At the exotic Birds of Paradise villa, I lived like the 1%, for a couple hours at least. I also found great companionship, true local characters, a new appreciation for air conditioning, and late night fun with banana rum. Each photo I posted to Twitter or Instagram screamed: Don't you wish you were here? No photoshopping, just a little something I call the Anguilla filter.
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your love.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.