Swimming with Whale Sharks

Would you go swimming with whale sharks? 

My family did! And…. they LOVED it!  It is a safe and fun adventure for all ages. The ages in our family  who swam with the whale sharks ranged from 8-66.

Our family swam with whale sharks

These gentle giants migrate to the waters off of the Yucatan Peninsula from May – September. It is not known why they come here except to feed in the rich plankton filled water. Little is known about their behavior and marine biologists have started tagging whale sharks to learn more about them. We were instructed to take note of tag numbers so that the Captain could report the location. Unfortunately we didn’t see any tagged whale sharks but we did see at least 100! They were all around the boat. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were. It is nature after all and you never know what you will find any given day.    

What we do know is swimming next to them makes you feel REALLY small. They are the biggest fish in the sea. Whale sharks measure up to 45 ft long and can weigh up to 15 tons. They are not aggressive. The whale sharks just swam along side of us with their big mouths open sucking in the plankton. They were not interested in us at all. We were told not to touch them and to keep our distance to at least 20 feet, which isn’t easy at times. When you jump off the boat, it is best to position yourself in front of the whale sharks for the best views.  They will glide right past you.

The boats from EcoColors Tours hold a maximum of 10 guests plus crew which meant our family had a private tour! They picked us up at our hotel,  on the way to the marina we were given the standard release and emergency contact info forms to complete. When we arrived  at the marina we were served a continental breakfast and given an informative briefing on whale shark anatomy and what to expect during our adventure. There were plenty of ice cold soft drinks and water to go around during the day. After swimming with the whale sharks we went to the north side of Isla Mujeres where we waded to shore to wander and relax before returning to the boat for a lunch of sandwiches, cheese with fruit and freshly prepared ceviche. Ceviche is Mexican seafood cocktail. The Captain swore to me it is the combination of fresh seafood and sea water that makes it so good.


What is included:

round trip transportation from your hotel or villa to Puerto Juarez

continental breakfast of coffee, tea, fruit and pastries

lunch of sandwiches, ceviche, cheese, crackers, fruit- vegetarians accommodated upon request

soft drinks and water

life jackets

snorkeling equipment

guide on the bus, boat and in the water

at least 2 entries per person in the water depending on weather/sea conditions 


What to take with you:

an underwater camera

an underwater video camera — our guide found my Kodak Play Sport easy to use and he shot some GREAT footage!


biodegradable sunscreen with a high level of SPF– better yet, wear a swim shirt

swimsuit and dry clothes



money for souvenirs, tips and your group photo

dramamine or motion sickness remedies- According to our group statistics there is a 50% chance you will need it.  Even though some were pretty sick, they said it was SO worth it! Everyone agreed they would DEFINITELY recommend this adventure and would do it again! It was one of the highlights on our family vacation.

Don’t forget – swimming with whale sharks in the Riviera Maya and Cancun area  is only available May- September.


feature image credit: Drew and Merissa
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6 Responses to “Swimming with Whale Sharks”

  1. Pierre
    January 9, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    I’m living there and I have not yet experimented that. Hope that will happen soon

  2. October 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    It’s funny. I’m in Europe doing the backpacker trail, and only just now looking for authentic (and eco-friendly) adventure travel experiences… and I see that they are much closer to home than I realised. I’ll have to give the swim a go when I get back. Looks like fun!

  3. August 13, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Wow Stephanie always been a dream of mine to swim with the largest fish in the sea, yet to do it but this provides yet more motivation as if I needed any. Even better when you can do it in an amazing destination, thanks for sharing.

  4. July 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Thanks! They are related to sharks as they are fish and not mammals like whales.

  5. July 28, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    I love your new blog format and the comment box. Swimming with the whale sharks sounds great. Are they related to whales?


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