I've done some pretty exciting things in my life, usually on vacation as a way of checking amazing things off my travel bucket list. I've zip-lined over alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Zoological Park in St. Augustine, Florida. I was part of a "Splash and Dash" during a hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a stunt where the hot air balloon pilot drives the basket into the Rio Grande, skirts the surface of the water, and shoots back up to regular flight height. I've kayaked in almost complete darkness through mangrove tunnels at Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico to get a look at the famous plankton that light up underwater as your paddle passes by them. I guess you can say I've become kind of a travel adrenaline junkie, as long as it's within reason and I'll end up with a great travel story for when I get home. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll ever have the nerve to try something like bungee-jumping or jumping out of a plane (too many "what-if" scenarios to make me feel comfortable enough for something that extreme), but this time next week I am going to be facing one of my biggest fears: swimming with sharks in Cancun, Mexico.
I'm going to be visiting Cancun for the first time next week, spending a long weekend exploring the beaches, hotels, nightlife, and nearby hotspots like Isla Mujeres. I will be posting from the road, so please follow along on our @BudgetTravel Instagram page! The highlight of my trip is going to be the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. I know what you're thinking: But whale sharks aren't scary, they don't eat people! They're like giant, friendly, vegetarian sharks. The truth is I'm not afraid of that part, it's the fact that we're going to be in very deep water to meet them and I'm nervous about what else will be swimming around out there with us at those incredible depths. The boat ride itself takes about two hours to get to the sweet spot off the coast where we'll be able to see them, and I'm just hoping not to bump into any other kinds of sharks out there along the way.
I've never had a run-in with a shark or even come close to it, a remarkable feat given the fact that I grew up in Hawaii and Florida, both of which have had their fair share of shark attacks from time to time. I know people who have visited the Galápagos Islands and went swimming with sharks at Kicker Rock who told me it was a very peaceful experience that totally cured their irrational fear of sharks. Maybe someday I'll get to that point, but for now, I'm sticking with whale sharks and hoping for the best.