Swim with Whale Sharks
PLAN MY TRIP
Although excursions to swim with these gentle giants are available from June to September, the interactions are best in July & August. Our important travel info for you is to plan a full day for this excursion, no matter what it says on the brochure. Most operators guarantee an encounter, so we sailed half way to Cuba before finding a whale shark. It was a long trip, but totally worth it.
ADVENTURE TRAVEL WITH SHARKS
The way it goes is that a number of boats are out on any given day. When one sights a whale shark, they radio others in the vicinity and up to 7 boats convene on one solitary filter-feeding shark. Each boat sends 2 snorkelers or divers into the water at a time with a guide, all under the watchful eye of a marine sanctuary representative. They get a few minutes to swim with the whale shark, then are called back to their boat. Immediately, the next boat launches 2 tourists into the water to repeat the same process, until every paying customer on every boat has been in to swim with the shark. This is all provided that the shark doesn’t get tired of playing with the humans and dive back down into the murky depths. Actually, the whale sharks seem as amused and interested in us as we do in them.
ONE TRAVEL THRILL
I can’t begin to tell you what a thrill it was to snorkel or dive beside the largest fish in the ocean, watching cleaner fish known as “remoras” swim in and out of gaping, filter-feeding maws large enough to swallow an inattentive human whole. It was extraordinary to see the whale shark watching us with an eye as large as a softball. By the way, these are very fast swimmers, and hard to keep up with! I swam for all I was worth and when I looked up, our boat was just a tiny speck over the waves. Our guide wasn’t too happy with me, but I got totally carried away by the moment (and the current *ahem*).
MORE ECO-TRAVEL BONUSES
On the boat trip out, you may also be lucky enough to see mating sea turtles. Our guide from the Marine Sanctuary said that male turtles often pile up on the females, nearly drowning them. Sheesh! We also saw an assortment of rays and flying fish. Everyone enjoyed the camaraderie of a relaxing day on the ocean. We can’t wait to do it again!
TRAVEL GUIDE TO COST
Costs vary from $100 to about $200 USD, depending upon the package you select. Other dive and snorkel stops may be included. Boats leave from Cancun and Holbox.
Tell us about your experiences with whale sharks. We’d love to hear. Questions or comments? Just fill out the form below.