How to Swim With Sharks in the Middle of Missouri

Courtesy Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

No diving experience is required.

Perhaps your far-flung adventurous vacation was canceled this summer. Or, maybe you’re just a fan of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. Either way, it’s possible to live out all of your shark diving dreams in one of the most unlikely places: Missouri.

Related: The World’s Most Unexpected Destinations for Diving

The landlocked state is home to Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium and offers the only shark diving experience in the Midwest. This world-class museum and aquarium in Springfield features an all-new 1.5-million-gallon aquarium filled with 35,000 live fish and sharks. And to bring visitors closer to nature, they decided to launch the “Out to Sea Shark Dive” experience where you actually get into the tanks and come face-to-face with sand tiger sharks, brown sharks, barracuda, and Atlantic goliath groupers. 

Matt Suess/Courtesy Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

How does it work? You get into an underwater cage donning state-of-the-art air helmets that allow you to breathe comfortably without a diver certification. The experience lasts 1.5 hours, and you spend about 20 minutes in the water. During that time, you’ll have a photo taken to capture the brave moment and be provided with wetsuits and a commemorative t-shirt.

Related: Top Scuba Diving Sites Around the World

Once done, you can explore the rest of the museum, which was just named America’s Best Aquarium. There are over 350,000-square-feet of exhibits and more than 1.5 miles of trails created by conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. Mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, are all on display, making up a record-setting collection of game animals ever assembled. 

Rick Sorensen/Courtesy Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

“Everything we do at Wonders of Wildlife focuses on connecting people of all ages and abilities to nature,” Shelby Stephenson, spokesperson, Wonders of Wildlife, told Departures. “And while Missouri may be a landlocked state, that doesn’t stop us from taking our visitors on an immersive journey around the world, including the bottom of the ocean! The Out to Sea Shark Dive is an experience unlike anywhere else thanks to state-of-the-art air helmets that allow guests to participate without SCUBA certification. If you can stand and breathe, you can make memories to last a lifetime by diving with sharks, right here in the Ozarks.”