Swim with the fishes – or sharks, or manatees…

I’m not talking about the creepy kind of swimming with the fishes that you hear about in old mob movies where some poor guy’s feet have just been coated in cement and he’s about to be offed and tossed overboard.  Eeew. 

No - I’m talking about the whole “one-with-nature” kind.  You know…where you get to swim along side whale sharks, or interact with dolphins, or even where you can watch a group of sharks feed.  Maybe this sounds weird to some people, but I’ve always loved animals, especially sea animals.  My favorite show used to be Flipper, I have an adopted manatee named after me, and I only eat dolphin-safe tuna.

Known as the “cow of the sea,” manatees are large, gray mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two flippers and their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. Manatees are gentle herbivores and live in the warm shallow waters off of the coast of Florida during the winter, but are known to travel to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolinain the summer.  Manatees are slow-moving by nature and surface throughout the day making them vulnerable to boat propellers.  Many operations that offer manatee tours donate a portion of their proceeds to wildlife preservation organizations that help to protect these peaceful creatures – these are the only ones you should support as there are other business who add to the problem, rather than trying to educate about manatee preservation and protect against further harm to the species.  You can also adopt a manatee or donate money to help research, education, and conservation programs that promote protective legislation.

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of divers swimming next to sharks that look about as big as a school bus, and thought to yourself, “um, hasn’t this guy seen Jaws?!”  Well lucky for him, though these enormous creatures (they can grow upto 40 feet in length!) are sharks, they are only whale sharksand prefer plankton over people anyday.  They can be found off of the coast of the Philippines, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar and off of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninnsula.  Isla Holbox, in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region, sees these gentle giants migrate through their waters each year from May to September.

A different type of shark encounter entirely, many outfits in the Bahamas offer opportunities for vacationers to defy their basic human instincts and swim with some of the world’s fiercest predators in their natural environment.  Shark dives and feeds can be found in almost every area of the Bahamas (West End, Grand Bahama is rumored to be the best location) and each offers a different experience seeing different species of shark.  Caribbean Reef Sharks are most commonly seen, however, lucky divers may also spot Hammerheads, Tiger sharks, Bull sharks, Silky sharks and Lemon sharks.  Most underwater shark experiences have divers done chain mail (protective shark suit) and orient themselves with their backs against a reef while they, or a guide, feed the sharks.

Vacationers who want to swim with dolphins should look for opportunities where the dolphins are wild and free in their natural habitat, rather than with dolphins that are in captivity for the sole purpose of pulling tourists around all day.  Hawaiihosts many of these dives, with their first priority being to respect and protect the wildlife.  Dolphins are some of the most inquisitive, intelligent and playful animals in the world and will often approach swimmers and divers on their own – Sunlight on Waterin Kona, Hawaii boasts a 98% success rate of finding dolphins on their excursions!  It is not uncommon for divers to get a bonus and also see Humpback whales, Manta Rays and sea turtles.  Dolphins have been said to have a spiritual connection to humans, making this an experience that any vacationer will not soon forget.

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do Southeast Asia (1 of 40)

ubud school children

ubud school children

ubud, indonesia
“we made it to ubud! we took the car around the area to see the botanical gardens and a few temples. the most impressive temple was the gorung kawi which was down in this river and the temple was carved into the stone cliffs. i will let the pictures tell the rest. we’ve done lots of exploring, ate some really great meals and of course drank a lot of bintang (local beer). today i think we will hang by the pool, eat some fruit and walk around in my banana sling. ok, if anyone would like to come visit we leave for malaysia on sunday then train it up to thailand. some nice beach time.”

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (32 of 40)

impossibles afternoon swell

impossibles afternoon swell

surfs up ballin
“after a few more days of small waves in bingin’ we headed north up to cangoo (changoo) where franny and alana live.  many beach breaks up and down the coast, small but fun, and not too many guys. there’s three rivers up and down the beach, so makes for a good break.

we grouped up with fernando & alana (peruvian and aussie), their friends: jose & marilou (both peruvian, importing from here), and jasmine & jason (surfin buds from australia), and headed up to balian for the weekend.  girls in one car, boys in another, and an hour and a half later we were in the quaint little beach of balian. another rivermouth, some nice fun waves.  an interesting group of expats residing up there, definitely a great place to chill at.

impossibles sunset

impossibles sunset

saturday the gals indulged and lounged all day long, stuffing their faces and tanning.  while the boys, we did what we do best, surf, eat, surf, drink, surf and so on. there was supposed to be a full moon mask party rager, but didn’t really seem to happen.  we went out the night before with franny and alana, so we were good to chill.

after a good small clean surf in the morning sunday, we headed back to franny’s place in cangoo.  now we sit and decide where to surf next! such a rough life… we see desert point in the near future and probably sumbawa from there.

here’s a few good pics for the start of the season…

peace and love”

bingin tube

bingin tube

small bingin

small bingin

stacy floatin - view from room

stacy floatin - view from room

stacy bobbing

stacy bobbing

bingin coastline

bingin coastline

our room - top left corner

our room - top left corner

wyan and jeff

wyan and jeff

girl laughing

girl laughing

balian coast - black sand

balian coast - black sand

surfs up

surfs up

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (31 of 40)

even ronald knows the local customs

even ronald knows the local customs

more on KL and on to bali
“KL, what a crazy unique city. at least to our eyes. the people, so many different people. we stayed in china town, in an indian owned place, ran by one of the manliest lady boys we’ve seen (indian) and these two other guys that had more going on than amy winehouse. piercings, rainbow nail polish chipping, gold teardrops on their foreheads, you name it, quite colorful human beings. but all very nice and entertaining.

we went to one of their many malls and witnessed the largest indoor themepark in SE asia amongst this 10 story gigantic mall. we ate a craving lunch of mcdonalds. it’s funny how good a big mac tastes over here when you don’t even think about it at home. we were surrounded by young chinese girls all dressed up to one side, young indian boys in skater clothes on the other, a group of indian ladies with their colorful head dresses, and then two families where the women are completely in black, only revealing those mysterious eyes through a small slit, while the guys are dressed as any other everyday man. and we see she doesn’t take her veil off even to eat, she must slide her grease dripping french fries under her cloak. like we said, a vast variety of people here in KL.

indoor themepark - too expensive for us

indoor themepark - too expensive for us

we finally found our peanut sauce though. at home we like to order that scrumtous thai dish called panag: spinach and chicken smothered in peanut sauce, yummy! we have yet to find anything close anywhere! not one peanut sauce in thailand. here, completely different story. everything comes with peanut sauce. the best is with a pack of satay (less than two bucks for 12 sticks of chicken and beef) served with a mouth watering spicey crunchy peanut sauce. worth it all.

after two nights in our strange indian palace (dirty tiles greated by fake flowers, fake grass hanging from the ceiling, plastic chinese lanterns, way too many fish tanks to not be an aquarium, and pop music like it’s rick dee’s weekly top 40), we were off to bali.

dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

dinner and beers - rooftop in KL

heaven. yes it’s a bit more crowded then in january, but great weather and the smell of waves. we went straight to ayu guna where we left the boards at and guess what, they were still there, locked in the bag, never touched! love the karma here. we stayed a few nights in the same bungalow as last time, swam at padang, then moved to juni’s warung (recommended by fernando) at bingins. it’s great. our room has a large window opening up to the waves below, and we’re literally steps from the water. now jeff can walk out to the waves at any time, impossibles, bingin, dreamland, and even paddle up to padang… while i’ve got a beach, snorkeling, and a great place to just chill.

flying over java or sumatra?

flying over java or sumatra?

we just booked mentawi’s wavepark for the end of the month, so for now, chill here in bali, then head over to lakey’s point sumbawa, then back to bali and off to mentawi’s which will put us in june when we’re done. then work our way back to bali through mainland sumatra and maybe java. surf’s up the whole way….bagus (pronounced bagoose = good!)

sidenote – thanks to everyone who’s been checking us out. it’s such a great surprise to see everyone’s comments on the board. can’t wait (well we can cause we’re here!) to catch up with everyone once we get back!

peace love and surf!”

indo fire mouth

indo fire mouth

lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

lookin out over impossibles from the cliff

lookin out at bingin from cliff

lookin out at bingin from cliff

jeff and fernando

jeff and fernando

impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

impossibles, view from above our warung/hotel

padang padang sunset

padang padang sunset

padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

padang padang fisherman - my favorite!

treckin down the road

treckin down the road

real backpacking now!

real backpacking now!

jeff comin in from bingin

jeff comin in from bingin

window view daytime

window view daytime

sunset panorama

sunset panorama

bingin sunset

bingin sunset

surf

surf

moon

moon

sky

sky