The countdown to a week of shark-themed TV programming on Discovery (BT TV channel 322/376 HD) is in full swing, and for those who love Jaws, the observance of these ocean predators shows little sign of slowing. Yes, it's Shark Week.

This year, why not take it a step further and book up a cage-protected meet-and-greet with a great white or a more leisurely swim with a slow-moving whale shark? If you’re looking for a thrilling experience that will well and truly put your traditional beach holiday in the shade, look no further than these go-to spots…

[Read more: 5 'Jawsome' shark facts for Discovery’s Shark Week]

1. Cape Cod, North America

Cape Cod, North America

This hook-shaped peninsula in south-eastern Massachusetts is not only a popular spot for sun seekers come the summer months – it’s also a haven for a variety of shark species.

From blues to makos, threshers, great whites and basking sharks, there’s ample opportunity to interact with the infamous animals; but your best shot of getting up close and personal is via Cape Cod Shark Adventures.

Whether you’re an experienced open-water diver looking for photographs or a beginner hoping to hop into a protective cage, the company pledges to ‘witness nature at its peak’.

2. Gansbaai, South Africa

Dubbed the ‘Great White Shark Capital of the World’, you’d be hard pushed to find a better spot than Gansbaai to scope out the legendary predator.

The popular fishing town in South Africa is known for its dense population of great whites and there’s no shortage of ways to get to know them better – from thrilling cage dives to once-in-a-lifetime shark breaching trips.

Also worth looking up is False Bay, Cape Town, where shark-viewing adventures are easy to come by.

3. Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico

Looking for an underwater adventure? If you dream of coming eye-to-eye with a great white, Isla de Guadalupe’s crystal clear waters – 150 miles off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula – are a fantastic shout.

Nautilus Explorer’s Guadalupe Great White Sharks is just one of the brilliant companies offering a natural experience of shark encounters, descending down to 30 feet where the sharks naturally congregate.

Expect anything up to six great whites at a time around the double-decker cages and, if you’re feeling really brave, skip up onto the open upper deck (outside the bars) to greet the creatures head on.

[Read more: 5 brilliant summer beach destinations for families that aren’t Spain]

4. Neptune Islands, South Australia

If there’s one thing you should look for when booking up a cage dive, its operator experience – and Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions certainly isn’t short of that.

Having set up the company after surviving a great white attack in 1963, and developing a fascination with the species, Rodney – and his son Andrew – offer exclusive access to the rugged Neptune Islands, where, along with sharks, you’ll spot seals, sea lions and more.

It’s also reportedly the only operator to place a cage on the ocean floor, giving a unique glimpse of the sharks socialising with other marine life.

Alternatively, Lord Howe Island, a spot on the Great Barrier Reef, offers boating trips – and diving courses – to see Galapagos whaler sharks.

5. Galapagos Islands

Deemed one of the world’s leading destinations for wildlife-viewing, the Galapagos Islands (a province of Ecuador) give tourists the chance to encounter a breadth of shark species, from dusky and whale sharks to hammerhead and Galapagos.

With Shark Diver, an operator with over 12 years in the industry, keen holidaygoers can experience an eco tour aboard a brand new dive vessel, with the opportunity to swim with the species, cage dive and learn about conservation.

Shark Week starts on Sunday, August 4th at 6pm on Discovery Channel - BT TV channel 322/376 HD.