Whale Sharks & More

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Get close to creatures of the sea for a wild family adventure.

Here are five ideas to consider:

1.Swim With Whale Sharks.

Swimming with the largest fish in the sea is a thrill worth seeking. Whale sharks are massive, reaching lengths of 40 feet and 15 tons. Despite their imposing presence, the gentle creatures peacefully share the warm seas with visitors who arrive via boat from the shores of nearby Cancun. Two at a time, along with a guide, you’ll don a life jacket or wet suit and fins, before jumping in for a swim with these plankton slurping vegetarians. No touching is allowed (the mega-fish are considered a “vulnerable species”) but you can swim alongside as they thrust forward their super-sized square jaw and begin filtering everything in their path like a water-born vacuum cleaner. It might look a little scary, but trust me, it's an adventure to remember.

Contact: www.Cancun.travel; www. solobuceo.com.

2.Snorkel with Jellyfish.

Visitors to Palau, an archipelago of more than 586 islands in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, often put swimming among the Moon and Golden jellies of Jellyfish Lake at the top of their adventure list. A short hike brings snorkelers to the 12,000 year old brackish marine lake where millions of the mystical creatures waft through the water each day following the arc of the sun. Void of the sting normally associated with these gelatinous floaters, you’ll marvel at the colorful underwater display as you observe the graceful migration.

Contact: www.SamsTours.com; www.Visit-Palau.com.

3.Swim with Stingrays.

Wade into the warm Caribbean Sea at the Stingray City Sandbar for your family’s chance to pet the dozens of sea creatures who visit the area for a little love and a few tasty treats. Today tour operators will assist in your introduction to the Southern stingray, taking over for the fishermen who originally attracted the rays to the area by cleaning fish and tossing the remnants into the water. Soon the stingrays associated the sound of boat motors with breakfast. For a more pleasurable experience, avoid visiting when cruise ships are in port.

Contact: www.caymanislands.ky

 4. Alaska up close.

Kayak among whales, sea lions and past puffins when you explore Alaska with Inner Sea Discoveries and American Safari Cruises. With only 22 to 86 guests on board on their well-planned vessels, you’ll wind your way into narrow passages and into wilderness areas that the bigger ships cannot access. The adventuresome in your clan can don a dry suit and use a Stand Up Paddleboard to get even closer to Alaska’s extraordinary wild riches.

Contact: 888-862-8881;www.InnerSeaDiscoveries.com

5.Adventures with alligators.

No one wants to get too close to an alligator. But at this park, home to more than 800 gators ranging in size from eight inch babies to 15 foot, one thousand pound adults, you’ll learn about the ways of these fierce creatures, from a safe distance. As you wander through natural swamps and marshes you’ll also encounter turtles, lizards, giant frogs and exotic birds. Lectures and live shows add to the experience.

Contact: 843-361-0789; www.alligatoradventure.com/

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