Here fishy, fishy

Adventurers can observe a great white shark on trips to Mexico between August and November. (Alan Studley)

Face to face with great white sharks -- in a cage

Become shark bait for a day on thrill-seekers' cruises to the feeding grounds of great white sharks off the California coast.

The adventure trips are available in two packages: daylong cruises to the Farallon Islands off San Francisco or five-day journeys to Isla de Guadalupe, off Baja California, Mexico. Participants observe sharks from a cage that is immersed in the water where the fish have been spotted.

"These trips are not for the squeamish," said tour director Lawrence Groth. "But they let you get face to face with the world's greatest predator safely." Groth said the cruises have been about 90% successful in locating great whites.

The day trips to the Farallon Islands, 26 miles west of San Francisco, are mid-September to mid-November.

Groth said some of the largest white sharks in the world — up to 20 feet long and weighing more than 2.5 tons — are drawn to the area to feed on elephant seals and sea lions before their annual transpacific migration. The trips depart from Alameda.

The five-day trips run from August to November, depart from San Diego and sail about 200 miles to Isla de Guadalupe. Sharks in the region range from about 10 to 16 feet, Groth said. Participants have private cabins on a 95-foot yacht.

Cost: The single-day Farallon trip is $775 per person, including meals and transportation; the five-day Isla de Guadalupe trip is $2,250 per person, including meals and transportation. Transportation to departure sites is not included.

Contact: Great White Adventures, based in Alameda; (510) 814-8256, .



Sightseeing and colorful local autumn festivals

Celebrate fall in Japan on a two-week tour that takes advantage of autumn festivals throughout the country.

The Oct. 14-to-28 tour visits Nikko's Tosho-gu Autumn Festival, Kyoto's Jidai Matsuri Festival of the Ages and Okayama's fall chrysanthemum and bonsai festival.

Other sightseeing stops on the tour include Tokyo, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Beppu, Kyushu and Nagasaki.

Cost: $5,250 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $1,260), including round-trip airfare from LAX to Japan, accommodations, transportation, most meals and sightseeing activities. Leading the trip will be Harry Lawrence, owner of Warren Imports Antiques in Laguna Beach.

Contact: Laguna Beach-based Far East Art and Adventure Travel; (949) 494-9778.