Having spent the last few years living abroad I now wish to rediscover my home city of Sydney to keep that 'travelling feeling' and share my findings with those that might want a bit of inspiration.
Published December 16th 2012
Shark-diving - safer than a bucks party for a groom?
Scuba diving is something I associate with turquoise waters, pristine coral reefs and shipwrecks. However those with a nose for adventure who enjoy the deep blue will love the Shark Dive that is available at Manly Sea-life Sanctuary at the West Esplanade, Manly.
Three levels are available for those who can control their nerves; beginner divers (from $200), refresher divers (less than 15 dives logged or not diving in the last 6 months - from $176) and experienced/certified divers (from $155). Each is given a training course and all equipment (boys please bring your speedos - nothing worse than jumping in a loan wetsuit knowing someone's hung-ten has been in there before you). After a session in the training pool, participants then enter the main tank surrounded by fish, turtles, stingray, and the sharp protruding chompers of the main attraction - sharks!
Now whilst I've been advised that the Grey Nurse sharks are fish-eaters and their teeth are unable to tear flesh, I watched in fear as my fiancé made his way along the tank floor until the group (6 of them) reached their target position. They then stayed relatively stationary for the remainder of the 30 minute dive submersion. It wasn't nerve-wrecking that he was in a tank with sharks considered harmless to humans, it was the knowledge that those tails were powerful. Tails of the stingrays had ended an Australian icon (Steve Irwin) and the turtles looked like a bop on the head with their shells as they swam about their business - bumping into the divers would do a lot more than just hurt.
Being on the other side of the glass inside the viewing tunnel gave me a fantastic view. I highly recommend attending any friend's dive. I could see all the action and took a multitude of photos throughout the 30 minutes they were in the tank as every close encounter was exciting, particularly if I could see them coming up behind my partner and he was looking in another direction.
My fiancé told me there was so much to see from the inside that you don't know where to look - you don't want to miss a second of the sea-life surrounding you.
I'd suggest doing the dive in summer as Chris did it in the middle of winter and the temperature of the water was high. That was the only complaint – funnily enough as an Englishman, it shouldn't have bothered him really. We did purchase a souvenir DVD filmed by one of the two escort divers taken from inside the tank to have both the perspective of the viewer in the tunnel, and the diver in the tank captured in images.
As a birthday gift this was an amazing way to spend $176. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as it is not offered all over the world. Listening to him recount it over and over again to curious friends made me happier than he could have possibly been.
Gift vouchers are available, so I would highly recommend giving one as a present to anyone who likes to challenge their comfort zone and have unique experiences (whether a diver or not). We purchased ours through Red Balloon as we didn't know what date we would want to redeem it, however if you know what date you want to go on, you can save a bundle by booking on their website.