We did a swimming tour where we sported full diver's regalia and cruised the tank just beneath the water's surface. We couldn't help but wonder if the fishies -- big and small -- have an inherent sense of humor. One minute we're staring at sting rays doing back flips and hammerhead sharks lurking in dark fish alleys when suddenly we feel a gentle ripple and two whale sharks slowly sandwich us before moving on to the next swimmer.
Then there was that old giant grouper who had a lot of nerve nuzzling us before attempting to swim right through. (Either they're dumb or they think they're invincible.)
The 30-minute in-water tour is magical and relaxingly quiet. (Beside your bubbles, its totally quiet down there.) Before we submerged we had a 15-minute briefing that covered fears and stressed the importance of being good to the fish when in their home. Swimming with sharks is like visiting a strip club. You can't touch the fish, but they can touch you. For safety reasons they request swimmers always stay flat and never stand erect -- it disrupts the animals' environment. (You also sign a waiver that no one will hold them responsible if a sting ray goes Crocodile Hunter on you.) The good news? A whale shark can't swallow you, his esophagus is puny while his mouth is roughly the size of a Smart Car.
Prior to our swim we also took a yoga class in the aquarium with the fish tank a peaceful, serene backdrop. For those who can zone out and accept the weird and graceful beluga whales starring as your private dancer, to do a sun salutation in front of these creatures certainly takes you to new levels. (Now we need someone to remix Tina Turner for a hatha yoga session.)
There are daily dives with six divers to a swim. It's 3 p.m. for scuba divers and 4:30 p.m. for snorkelers. The entire package lasts about 2.5 hours. Prices are reasonable for the experience at $325 for scuba divers and $225 for snorkelers. Equipment is all included.
Of course there is an in and out-of-water camera man to capture you in the experience. They'll help you find your best angle when sporting a wet suit, an equalizer and goggles!
Yoga classes are Sundays from 9:30am to 11am in the Oceans Ballroom and costs $35 a class. ($20 for members of the aquarium.) Namaste.