Swimming with whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience. Whale Sharksare huge, harmless and gentle creatures that grow to be around 50 feet long and weigh around 15 tons; this is 19 times the weight of a Great White Shark. They eat plankton and small fish, swim slowly through the water and are not a threat to humans. They are true “gentle giants”.
Whale sharks look for warm waters where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Whale shark season in Mexico officially runs during summer time, from the 15th of May until the 17th of September, when they migrate to this area to feed before heading south toward the warmer waters of Central and South America until the following year. You can snorkel and swim with them any day, except for days with bad weather. They can be seen off Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy and Isla Holbox. There are plenty of offers for this day trip.
Since this tour is far away from Tulum, you could reserve this activity for the last day of your vacation and book a late return flight for that day, or choose to sleep either in Cancun or Holbox.
From Tulum, you will take a 2 hr. drive towards Cancun and then hop on a small boat to encounter these amazing sea animals. The boat tour itself lasts for about 5 hours starting around 8 am until 2 pm. It includes life vests, light breakfast snack and lunch (usually a delicious and fresh ceviche).
When a pod is spotted during the tour, guests take turns jumping into the water to swim and snorkel with these massive, beautiful beings. Tourists can also encounter sea life that includes pods of dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and schools of colorful tropical fish.
This tour has become very popular over the past few years and official authorities have taken efforts to limit and reinforce many of the rules and regulations to protect these animals that are now on the threatened species list.
Only two people plus a dedicated guide are allowed in the water with the whale shark at one time, so in a group tour of 10 people, a person can expect to swim in the water about two or three times. The tour is usually complimented with a brief snorkeling stop on the way back to the marina.
Here are some valuable tips if you decide to encounter these marvelous creatures:
- Don’t touch the whale sharks
- Keep a distance of 13 feet from them
- Book your tour with a licensed provider
- Use biodegradable sunscreen
- Bring an underwater camera
- Wear a hat during the boat trip
Enjoy an unforgettable experience swimming with whale sharks, it is truly one of the most amazing underwater encounters.