Go swimming with sharks at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay

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TAMPA BAY, Fla. - Downtown Tampa Bay has no shortage of attractions to take advantage of but one that definitely sticks out is the Florida Aquarium.

Home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals, the facility is considered one of the top aquariums in the country, with both interactive and education offerings that the whole family can enjoy. 

Watch as I dive headfirst into an unforgettable experience on this edition of Central Florida's Hidden Gems.

At most trips to the aquarium, guests can only walk around, peering into tanks full of fish and other aquatic life. But at the Florida Aquarium, you can go inside the tanks and swim alongside actual sharks!

PHOTOS: Swimming with sharks at the Florida Aquarium

It's called the Shark Swim Experience. During your swim, you'll don a  wetsuit and breathing device and float just below the surface of the water while a scuba diver guides you through a sea of fish, sea turtles, and of course sharks!

The whole experience takes place in the Coral Reef Exhibit and other aquarium guests will even be able to see you while you swim around. 

RELATED: Two loggerhead turtles, rescued by Florida Aquarium, return to New Smyrna

For those new to diving, you're in luck! No previous diving or training experience is necessary and, as long as you're at least 9 years old and comfortable in the water, you should be able to swim.

While the experience is a great time, it also helps fund the aquarium's conservation and research efforts.

Florida Aquarium Photographer
 

In addition to the shark swim, the Florida Aquarium offers guests a chance to get up close to lemurs at the Madagascar exhibit, and some native Floridian critters at the Wetlands Trail. But nothing truly compares to jumping into the water and seeing firsthand what makes the animals of our oceans tick. 

Visit flaquarium.org for more info on tickets. 

If you're interested in bringing your family to the Florida Aquarium this summer, enter the WFTV Visit Tampa Bay Sweepstakes. You could win  a Shark Swim Experience for four (4) at the Florida Aquarium, or admission for four (4) to the Florida Aquarium and four (4) complimentary cruise admissions aboard Wild Dolphin Cruises. 

Previous Hidden Gems:

Watch un-edited POV footage from our 'Shark Swim' below: