Where To Go To Face 7 Common Fears

Hannah Burton for Bustle

It's super common to have a phobia, whether it's spiders, snakes, heights, public speaking, or something else. And for lots of people, these phobias are scary but don't really impact their lives. Others, however, crave the sense of freedom that comes from facing your fears. Fortunately, these people have lots of opportunities to conquer their fears in fun and supportive settings.

"When we experience fear, our body perceives a real and present threat or danger — even if none is really there," clinical psychologist, speaker, and founder of AZ Postpartum Wellness Coalition Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D. tells Bustle. "Most of the time, we fear things that haven’t even happened and often will never happen. We fear the idea of something, and not the real thing itself. The problem is our brain and body can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined threat, so our body responds in the same way to true danger as it does to an imagined danger — racing heart, shortness of breath, anxiety, etc. Because these physical signs of fear are so real and uncomfortable, we tend to imagine threats the same weight as real threats. This is one reason fear can become so controlling in our minds, and why it can be so difficult to take the control back. We think fear is there to protect us from something dangerous, but it’s most often there to prevent us from something good."

If you want to take control over your fears and step into the life they've been blocking, here are some experiences to immerse yourself in.

1. Sharks

Andrea Izzotti/Fotolia

It makes sense that humans are afraid of sharks: They have the potential to kill us. But not all kinds of sharks are likely to do that. Whale sharks weigh 21 tons and are bigger than a bus but almost exclusively eat plankton and small fish and are so docile, swimmers sometimes ride on them. Guests at the Marriott Cancun Resort get to meet as many as 50 of these creatures when they snorkel. You can also swim with whale sharks through Ocean Tours Mexico or Mexico Whale Shark.

2. Public Nudity


If you have nightmares about being naked in public but have been dying to let out your exhibitionist side, Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica may be the vacation destination for you. The clothing-optional resort has sex shows, a playroom (if you want to venture into public sex), and a jacuzzi with both G-rated and R-rated activities. If you're coming with a partner, you can also hit up the couples-only clothing-optional resort Desire. Or, if full nudity is too much, go topless at the pool at Temptation. At places like these, people of all ages, shapes, and sizes shed their clothes and their inhibitions, and nobody's body is looked down upon.

3. Snakes


Relationship expert Londin Angel Winters holds sacred snake ceremonies in Venice, California, where women dance with snakes to connect with their power and sexuality. It's a great place to overcome your fear of snakes because she trains and keeps control of her snakes, so you can be introduced to them at your own pace. And after having a powerful spiritual experience with snakes, you may begin to feel differently about them. If that sounds like a bit much for you, visit the central square in Marrakech to see snake charmers from a distance.

4. Enclosed Spaces


If you're claustrophobic, cave-diving may be the last thing on your agenda. But once you learn about the Cave Bar at Crystal Cove resort in Barbados, you may be tempted. There, you can swim through a waterfall and onto a stool and enjoy a Bajan rum punch. Then, if you dare, take your cave explorations up a notch at the nearby Harrison’s Cave. Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, you might enjoy the 11 underwater caves in Belize's Great Blue Hole.

5. Earthquakes


The San Andreas Fault Line has been called the "most tortured landscape on Earth" because it's the most powerful earthquake site in California. The Extreme Package at Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa includes a jeep, hike, or bike tour to this attraction, followed by a farm-to-fork dinner and craft cocktails while watching the sunset. Other famous seismic zones include the Cascadia Subduction Zone along the Pacific Northwest coastline and the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the South.

6. Unusual Food


If your palate is easily offended, Jaanchie’s Restaurant in Curaçao should take you out of your comfort zone. The restaurant is unique in that it serves iguana. Yes — you heard that right — iguana. The locals believe it has healing properties and can even serve as an aphrodisiac. There's only one way to find out if they're right. If you'd rather start with insects, visit Thailand's Khaosan Road for crickets, scorpions, and tarantulas.

7. Wild Animals

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If the thought of being surrounded by creepy crawly critters makes you shudder, a trip to Costa Rica might change that. At Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, you'll find over 500 plant and wildlife species, including tree frogs, toucans, butterflies, howler monkeys, Jesus lizards, and raccoon-like creatures called coatimundi. Between outdoor yoga classes, spa treatments, and hot spring swims, you'll begin to feel like one with the wildlife. You can also live among antelope, wildebeests, and more at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

With all these fun ways to do it, facing your fears never sounded so appealing. You may even have so much fun that you'll realize these things weren't so scary after all.