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Forget ‘Jaws’: Hawaiian adventure lets you get up close with sharks

A curious shark swims past a glass-enclosed cage about three miles off the shore of Oahu.

A curious shark swims past a glass-enclosed cage about three miles off the shore of Oahu.

(Hawaii Shark Encounters)

Forget everything you saw in “Jaws.” You can safely get in the water with sharks. Honest.

Hawaii Shark Encounters allows visitors to get up close and personal from the safety of a metal-and-glass cage off the coast of Oahu. Your chances of seeing a great white – like in the movies -- are next to none, but you’ll probably see other types of sharks that are curious enough to come eyeball to eyeball with you.

“At three miles offshore, we mainly have Galápagos sharks, sandbar sharks and the occasional tiger shark,” owner Steve Jordan told me. He said the Galápagos range from 6 to 12 feet long, while the sandbars are somewhat smaller.

Galápagos sharks weigh up to 600 pounds. (Hawaii Shark Encounters)

For two to three weeks in late September and early October, visitors are likely to see more sandbar sharks. During that period, the Galápagos head to Oahu’s west side to mate.

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Boat trips depart from the charming town of Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore, about an hour’s drive north of Waikiki.

Participants spend at least half an hour in the water. The cage, suspended beside the boat, sits just a few inches beneath the water, which allows people to view the sharks using just a mask and snorkel.

On board, naturalists provide an educational and informative talk about the need for shark preservation.

Encounters are priced at $115.50 for adults and $82.50 for children 11and younger. Reservations can be booked online or by calling (808) 351-9373.

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