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What It’s Like to Dive with Sharks at Australia’s Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

I try to experience everything a place has to offer whenever I travel. On a recent trip to Australia, this meant shark diving—sharks being synonymous with Australia, after all—which led me to Shark Dive Xtreme at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary in Sydney.

It’s an experience that will test your will and put you within inches of these “gentle giants.” I left with a new appreciation for the need to protect sharks and a desire to help protect them so that they can continue to thrive in the wild for another 400 million years.

Shark dive 1
(Photo: Manly Sea Life Sanctuary)

Shark Harbor at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary is home to sharks, sea turtles, gigantic stingrays, and hundreds of tropical fish species. Walking through the underwater tunnel, you feel immersed by the water—but the most intimate experiences with marine life require you to don a wetsuit and climb into the million gallon water tank.

Here’s what it’s like to dive with sharks.

Dive with Sharks

Don’t fret if you’ve never worn a wetsuit before. The shark-diving activity is open to everyone over the age of 14, even those with zero diving experience. Dive packages include a safety course and in-water training before you dip a toe into the large tank, and qualified instructors make your safety the top priority.

Shark diving should be on every Sydney visitor’s to-do list. Not only does the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary give you the opportunity to dive with sharks—cage free!—but you’ll also be supporting a sanctuary for the underwater ecosystem.

The Manly Sea Life Sanctuary protects the local marine environment by educating its visitors and cleaning up the Manly Cove. It’s not your usual aquarium: It focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation, and eventual release of sick and injured sea animals.

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(Photo: Manly Sea Life Sanctuary)

The Costs

The Manly Sea Life Sanctuary offers two dive with sharks packages.

The first is the traditional dive for $252 (a $47 savings when you book online) where you spend 30 minutes under water swimming with all sorts of marine life, including 11-foot-long Grey Nurse sharks.

The second package is a feeding dive where you can watch as aquarists hand-feed the sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and fish. The cost to participate in this experience runs at $395 for 40 minutes in the water.

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Cielo Magaña loves exploring the world above and below sea level. Follow her on Instagram @cielojourneys.

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