Swim With Gentle Giants
From mid-May to mid-September, it’s whale shark season in the warm Caribbean waters off the coast of Mexico. Here is where these massive creatures come through on their annual migration. Swimming with the whale sharks has become a popular excursion in the past few years in the Mayan Riviera.
You may first think to yourself, why would anyone want to get in the water with a 40-foot shark? Whale sharks are calm creatures though, and are no threat to humans. These gentle giants don’t seem to mind one bit having swimmers around them.
Known as the largest fish in the world, they can grow up to 40 feet in length and weigh up to 15 tons. They are filter feeders, feeding on plankton, krill, and small fish that are in the water. When you sometimes find 30 to 50 of these majestic giants schooled together feeding; it’s stunning to behold.
If you are interested in swimming with the whale sharks, you can find tour guides readily in Playa del Carmen and throughout the region (only in season). The densest populations of whale sharks are seen off of the islands of Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, which are east and north of Cancun.
From Isla Mujeres, a tour group of no more than ten people per boat leaves daily around 8 / 8:30 am in the morning and returns to the island around 2 / 3pm. It makes for a very fun, full day! The vast majority of tours involve snorkeling and swimming with the whale sharks, but you can also book diving tours if you are certified diver.
TIP: It’s wise to book your tour through a reputable company, one that is advertised online and is well-known. Make sure they are flexible and will allow you to reschedule if there is inclement weather. Professional guides will be understanding that you are investing a portion of your vacation budget with them, and they’ll know if the conditions are going to be conducive to a great experience!
While you’re vacationing in the Mayan Riviera, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget and will talk about for years to come!