Swimming with the majestic and enthralling whale sharks lies on the bucket list of every adventurer. there are few destinations in the world where you can get to dive and swim alongside these gentle giants. Yes, giants is the right word. Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) long, but on average they grow to 18 to 32.8 feet (5.5 to 10 m) and weigh 20.6 tons (18.7 metric tonnes). That’s about the size of a school bus. But before you start getting nervous at their size and enormous mouths, whale sharks pose no risk to humans even though they are technically a shark not a whale. They only swim at about 3mph and are already accustomed to swimming alongside humans, so these mammoths of the sea are very docile creatures.
Here are the top 5 destinations in the world to commune with whale sharks in this exhilarating experience:
Mexico is one of the best destinations for swimming with whale sharks. In fact, it boasts a very high chance of seeing a whale shark on your snorkeling expedition. Baja California, Cancun and Cozumel are some of the popular locations here that you can visit for this purpose. The time of year to travel to Mexico for whale shark diving largely depends on which part of the country you’re planning to visit. For instance, if it’s Baja Peninsula then your best bet would be from winter to early spring since that’s the whale shark season here. If it’s Yucatan Peninsula, then plan to visit between June and September. The whale sharks arrive for the tuna spawning off Isla Mujeres.
Already famous for scuba diving, the Philippines also wows with its whale shark diving adventures. Recent research has revealed that there are more than 900 individual whale sharks in the deep waters of Philippines. December to May is an ideal time for you to see and swim with the incredible whale sharks. Some of the popular locations here are Donsol Bay, Oslob, Palawan or Sogod Bay.
The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the world. Right in the central part of it lies the protected marine reserve of Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes. The natural biodiversity is very well-maintained in this region due to its protected status, which means that you can count on amazing whale shark sightings along with witnessing other wonders of marine life such as colorful fish and sea turtles. March to June would be the perfect visiting time.
Mozambique is one of the most pristine locations for whale shark diving. One of its most popular locations is Tofo Beach, which boasts a mesmerizing coastline along the Indian Ocean. This region appears to play a key role in the growth cycle of the whale sharks. An abundance of plankton provides a food source for juveniles in the 15-30 feet size. Apart from whale sharks, you can experience humpback whales, dolphins and Manta rays. June to January would be the best time to explore Tofo Beach in Mozambique for whale shark diving.
Rounding up our list of top 5 destinations for whale shark diving are the exquisite coral islands that make up Maldives. Whale sharks found here are also relatively smaller in size, ranging between 13 to 26 feet on average. The main benefit to this region for diving and snorkeling excursions with whale sharks is because they are present in Maldives all year round.
Ningaloo Marine Park is a World Heritage-listed site found half way up the West Australian coastline. The crystalline water harbors the world’s largest fringing reef, a 260-kilometre (162-mile) long coral reef swarming with turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and the elusive whale shark. Ningaloo is a little off the beaten path and can be reached from the town of Exmouth which is a 777-mile drive north of Perth. The whale sharks can be spotted from April to July.
- Only attempt this with an organized tour.
- Follow your guide’s instructions for your safety and the welfare of nature’s creatures.
- Use natural sunscreen – I recommend this brand (link to Amazon).
- Don’t touch the whale sharks.
- Stay clear of their tail fine as they could swat you without realizing it.
- You need to be a reasonably good swimming to keep pace with its head to avoid above-mentioned tail swatting.
- Stay at least 6 feet from the head and 12 feet from the tail.
- Don’t harass them in any way as they are considered endangered.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may be interested in reading about my experience swimming with whale sharks. (Link to article I wrote)
Natural Wonders Tours specializes in the A.W.E factor: Adventure, Wellness and Eco tours that connect travelers with the wild in nature and wild within for truly transformative experiences.
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