I've always wanted to have a shark encounter but there had to be a way for me to do it without putting myself at risk. As an action-adventure junkie, I found the perfect way to do it when I visited the Dutch island of Curacao in the Caribbean.
There, Ocean Encounters dive operator and Sea Aquarium Curacao provide a unique animal encounters experience that let me be up close and personal to certain species of animals I'd never had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
The experience takes place in enclosed lagoons filled with sea life such such as tarpons, permits, common snook, horse-eyed jacks, French grunts, southern stingrays and more. Visitors put on snorkel gear, get their own bucket of sardines and herring and dive in to interact with the sea life. If you're lucky the lagoon's shyest resident, Herbie the Goliath Grouper, may even come out of his hiding spot to say hello. (A pair of social stingrays, however, will be the first to greet you!)
The lagoon is one of several adjoining lagoons, each housing bigger species: loggerhead turtles, nurse sharks and lemon sharks. They are all connected by Plexiglas with fist-sized holes. You put fish through the holes and hand-feed the larger species. It allows for an direct face-to-face experience while remaining free from danger due to the glass.
You can get a "taste" of the experience through a couple of the pictures of my underwater adventure. To see the rest of the photos, click here to be taken to my Curacao Aquarium Animal Encounters Program album.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more