When you go scuba diving in shark-infested waters, your dive instructor will give you this advice: Keep your hands close to you and stay at a safe distance. But if the sharks want a piece of you, there’s really nothing you can do about it.
That warning didn’t deter one family from suiting up, plunging in, and getting up close and personal with dozens of silky sharks and Caribbean reef sharks off the coast of Cuba. Brothers Ron and Gabe and their mother, Elena, took up an invitation from a family friend to spend a week in one of the world’s Meccas for scuba diving, Jardines de la Reina (The Queen’s Gardens), an archipelago off the southern coast of Cuba that contains some of the last undisturbed coral reefs that divers can access.
The family flew into Havana and spent a day exploring the city’s architecture, which dates all the way back to the 1600s, and getting to know the locals, who were friendly and warm. Then they took a six-hour bus ride to the southern end of the island and boarded a boat to the Jardines, where they were lucky enough to have permits for a well-kept secret of a diving spot.
Ron said diving with sharks was “very scary at first. At first you see only one or two sharks pass by, but in certain areas there were several more. And when the guides brought out food, several dozen sharks appeared.” But after a while the divers eased into it—comforted by the fact that their guides had never had a serious incident in eighteen years of excursions—and enjoyed the wonder of swimming with sharks.
The most amazing part, Ron said, was that silky sharks’ spinal column is configured in a way that allows divers to grab them by the tail. “At that point the sharks temporarily enter this limbo sleeping state, and you can HOLD THEM LIKE A PRIZE!” It was unbelievable, he continued. “One of the coolest moments in my life.”
The group spent six days aboard the boat, diving every day, exploring the white-sand beaches, and enjoying fresh-caught fish.
“It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” exclaimed Ron. “I had little to know idea what Cuba, of all countries, would be like—but the high spirits of the people quickly raised my spirits. By far, though, the highlight was the intimacy with the sharks.”
When the family got home, they took their footage and photos to the video editing pros at VideoTov. They uploaded their files to the online platform and gave the editor instructions on how they wanted the video to look.
The editor, Anthony Gourdine, said that the goal of the video was “to give the family and the viewer a chance to relive their vacation in Cuba while trying to keep the mood fun and energetic.”
Working together, they created an amazing, professional video to share with friends—and now they’re sharing it with you. Check it out: