Whale sharks are majestic mammals and gentle giant filter feeders. You will have an excellent experience swimming with these giant whale sharks. When I was making my travel bucket list a few years ago, swimming with whale sharks was undoubtedly at the top of the list, and whale shark tours were the most incredible experience ever. 100 sharks

Mexico, Ningaloo Reef, and the Philippines are some of the best places to swim with whale sharks. In this article, we have discussed descriptions and information related to whale sharks.

They are just amazing and gorgeous animals. But can you imagine snorkeling with an actual shark the size of a real school bus? Sounds weird? Yes, its actual whale sharks are enormous. However, whale sharks are timid creatures. They are slow swimmers but can accelerate as quickly as possible. Their primary source of food is plankton, krill, and small fishes.

The fantastic thing about this adventure is it’s very easy to swim with this largest fish. You only need to know where to dive and when to dive. You should know where most whale sharks are and where they go most of the time.
In this regard, some recent discoveries related to annual whale shark feeding behavior. It has identified some awesome places to swim with whale sharks.

Best places and times to swim with a whale shark

So some of the best places and times to swim with whale sharks are Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox in Mexico from June through September, Ningaloo Reef in Australia from March to July,
Gladden Spit in Belize from March to June and Donsol Bay in the Philippines from December to May.

It all depends upon the whale shark’s food. So when it grows like some plants and fish eggs, they all have specific times in the year when their numbers grow in these areas.

So the fishes move towards certain areas where they can find proper food and ecosystem.

So they always travel in large groups; if you go snorkeling and swim with whale sharks, it would be an incredible moment of your life.

Is swimming safe with whale sharks?

Swimming with whale sharks is more fun and the coolest thing ever i have heard

When you think of doing it, the very first question that comes into your mind is regarding your safety. You might be thinking, is swimming with whale sharks safe? Of course, it is safe to swim with whale sharks. They are not harmful to humans only if you follow specific safety rules and keep a safe distance.

This means it is not a dangerous act to swim with the whale sharks while keeping distant. You can generally do snorkeling or scuba diving without disturbing their ecosystem and let them do their things. There are not so many incidents of whale sharks with humans. [source]

As it’s a matter of common sense while crossing the road, you will stop and let the bus pass you from a safe distance; the same is in this case; you should stop while those bus-size whale sharks are passing, and then you can move forward.

It will keep you safe and let this bus size animal move in its path and prevent whale shark aggression.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. their mouth is about 5 feet wide.[Source]

Whale sharks are graceful and majestic giants of the ocean. These whale sharks glide around tiny plants and other small organisms for food.

So the humans are not on the menu list. So it all depends on your behavior, like how do you behave with the whale sharks? Do you respect their own pace or not? Because only your behavior will reflect the whale shark’s behavior. Your misbehavior could make them aggressive.

Just make sure you are comfortable swimming, diving, and snorkeling in the deeper water since that’s where usually these whale sharks hang out. In most of the tours, they keep safety first. So they give their clients life jackets or other flotation devices.

Tips to swim with whale sharks

Do not interact with these creatures. You go into a deep dive into the ocean to observe not to interact. Make sure to keep a distance of at least 10 feet from marine life like fishes, sharks, corals, and others. Different places have different requirements.

Just inquire about the place before you go snorkeling or diving. Touching any marine life is not allowed because the natural waterproof coating on this marine life could be harmed by your touching them. In addition, oils on your skin could be harmful to them.

Though you can’t touch the whale sharks doesn’t mean they can touch you
If it does, it actually would be an honor to you. Because it is a moment that rarely comes up. You might be thinking, what to do when the whale shark touches you? You must act like a starfish, pulling your hands and feet back and moving in line with the rest of your body.

There are a few destinations from Mexico to Mozambique where you can find these whale sharks and swim with them. But there are some specific seasons in the year you must visit.

Let’s take a look at the most incredible places, from Mexico to Mozambique To swim with whale sharks with a complete guide on when to go and what to do when you get there.

1. Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox, Mexico

A bunch of whale sharks appear at Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox every year near Cancun to breed and as well as to feed on the plankton and mass of fish eggs.

Isla Holbox is the antithesis of crazy Cancun, which is 150 km to the south. Willy’s is the most reputable operator you may ask for help from.
Manta rays are also prevalent to enjoy here among those whale sharks. It will add to the bizarreness of the experience.

When to go to these magical spots?

There are seasons when you see more whale sharks at a specific place. For example, when we talk about Isla Holbox, it’s from June to September, and for Isla Mujeres, it’s in July and August. You can see a large number of whale sharks at this time here.

How to get there?

These places are not very far from Cancun. These places are the most popular tourist destinations and it has an airport at their convenience.

Once you arrive at Cancun’s airport, you can take a cab or taxi from Puerto Juarez to Isla Mujeres.

And a two-hour bus from the ferry port to the Isla Holbox.

Isla Murejes definitely is an easily accessible place to get in, But you will find more peace and tranquility in Isla Holbox if that is the thing you are looking for.

Playa Norte is a sandy beach lined up with beach palm trees, restaurants, and bars.

Tours also depart from Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or any place from Riviera Maya, but it will be too time-consuming and hectic for you. As a result, you will spend more time traveling and less time swimming with whale sharks. Therefore, if you are here to swim with whale sharks, I suggest it’s better to stay on these islands for more fun and exposure.

Where to stay?

You can stay in Rome hotels out there. You can relax and stay in Tribu Hostel,
Mid-range guesthouse or more. Some tour companies provide complete tours to their clients, picking up from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to the Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres. They offer to stay in hostels or hotels and provide food in a good package.

Tour tips at Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres

When we talk about whale sharks, Mexico is one of the most popular places to swim with whale sharks. However, there are some extra restrictions that we don’t have in any other area. And these restrictions are ultimately for the whale sharks because it is an endangered species.

Scuba divers seemed to be too disruptive for the whale sharks, so snorkeling is much better than scuba diving. Flotation devices are a must in some company tours if you are a beginner at snorkeling.

Wearing life jackets might not be ideal for advanced snorkelers, but some tour companies allow wearing wet suits while diving, which is good for the extra buoyancy of air trapped in it. Before selecting a tour company for a tour, you must have to ask if they allow wearing wet suits.

whale shark congregation moves to these spots mostly in summer.

Sunscreen is very essential while going offshore. But you cannot wear sunscreen while swimming with whale sharks. But as you have to stay in the sun for a couple of hours, make sure to bring some sun coverage, like a hat or something that protects you from the sun. And get a rashguard with you that protects your back from the sun while snorkeling.

2. Donsol Bay in the Philippines

The whale sharks were discovered in 1998 in the fishing village of Donsol. This place became the nation’s premier tourist destination. The Philippines is one of the most incredible countries in the world. If you get a chance to swim with whale sharks, just don’t let it go and enjoy the moment.

The tourism board in Donsol claims that they have the most whale sharks as compared to the world which could be true or could be false. But this area has more annual plankton blooms each year, which is food to whale sharks. So you would be likely to see more whale sharks here than in other areas.

The tourism board in Donsol is also an expert in crowd management. They place maximum numbers on the boats, and boats can be allocated to how many people. This is how they manage crowds at the Beach.

When to go to Donsol?

Whale sharks usually arrive at the Donsol Bay area between December and June, but the most critical time for shark sightings is from January to March.

The Philippines is one of the world’s hotspots for whale sharks. It is home to many different species.

Way to Donsol

If you are flying to Donsol internationally, You will typically be connecting from Cebu (CEB) or Manila (MNL) to your ultimate destination Legazpi(LGP).
After landing in Legazpi, you can take a public bus or any private car to Donsol which is about half an hour from Legazpi.

Where to stay in Donsol?

Donsol generally is a sleepy town with some places to stay there. You might visit Dancalan Beach Resort or Elysia Beach Resort.

It is possible you can get into a boat to go to the whale shark area directly, but it would be a little time-consuming. I suggest you directly book a tour from a well-reputed tourist operator. It will also save you time, and you will have more time in the water.

There are some tour operators that offer different single-day tours and multi-day packages. Whale shark Adventure and Tours, Bicol Dive Center, and Donsol EcoTour are some of the most popular tour operators in Donsol.

Diving at Donsol Tips

You can do snorkeling here in Donsol and swim with whale sharks just like you can do in Mexico. This place has one more specialty; you can enjoy watching Manta Rays here.

Dolson Beach is the most amazing destination for whale sharks in the Philippines. You can choose Bicol or Cebu as a destination to swim with whale sharks. At these places, these whale sharks are fed mainly by visitors and people out there to encourage them to stick to these places as it promotes more tourism in these places.

But the bad thing is it makes whale sharks more aggressive, and they don’t behave naturally. So it’s better to visit Dolson to see whale sharks because they will behave naturally in this place.

3. The Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

The Ningaloo Reef spot is an incredible spot for snorkeling and swimming with whale sharks. Western Australia is an Australian state that covers the entire western third of the country.

This place doesn’t get as much press as other parts of the country. But it is a wonderful part of the Australian Continent. This place covers the third of the three biggest natural gatherings of whale sharks on the entire planet.

The Ningaloo Reef is the largest and most easily accessible coral reef in Australia. It lies around 1200 km north of the west coast. This 300 km coral is home to over 500 different species of fish.

This Reef was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. Tour operators that are working there must ensure swimming with the whale sharks.

When to go to Ningaloo Reef?

As we know, there is a specific time in the year when you can see more whale sharks at a place. At Ningaloo Reef this time starts between March and July. A great number of whale sharks are attracted during this time to the Ningaloo Reef. But the peak season of the whale sharks is during May and June.

How to get there?

The best path to this coral reef is by plane. It would help if you took a flight from Perth (PER) to Exmouth (LEA). This flight is almost two hours.

The bordered Ningaloo Reef is a sparkling gem in western Australia’s crown.

Whale Shark Tour tips

Once you get there in Ningaloo Reef, there are a few tour operators that offer several good packages. They also track whale sharks and their time to arrive there. This gives you an opportunity to save your time and get more time to spend with these whale sharks rather than wasting your time finding whale sharks.

Most of the tours depart from the nearest point of Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth(LEA). The tour operators have their own pickups from Exmouth, and they also offer hotel stay to their clients. As we know that Ningaloo Bay has almost 500 species of fish and creatures, and most scientists and biologists are attracted to this place due to its biodiversity.

And many tour operators hire these scientists and biologists as tour guides. A standard tour guide cannot provide as much information as a professional person can provide who has studied a lot about whale sharks. It is a great benefit to tour operators as well as to the visitors.

The Ningaloo Reef holds the world record for having the highest rate of whale sharks swimming there. So you will get more chances to swim with the whale sharks here in The Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

4. Tofo Beach, Mozambique

Tofo is a coastal area in the southeastern area of Mozambique. It is also known as Curved Tofo Beach. It is famous for its huge manta rays encircling the Manta Reef. The majority of Dolphins, Whale sharks,

and humpback whales are attracted to this Beach Because of the vast quantity of plankton here on Tofo Beach.
This place is 400 km north of the capital Maputo. Tofo Beach is home to the largest concentration of whale sharks in Africa.

When to go there?

Although this place has whale sharks all over the year due to the never-ending quantity of plankton here, October to March is the most specific time you can see flocks of whale fishes here in Tofo Beach.

Tofo Beach tour tips

Tour operators in Tofo Beach organize tours on a daily basis, or they have single-day snorkeling tours in the season.

Some more places to swim with whale sharks

Here I have mentioned some more places that are worth looking for if you visit nearby. Whale sharks are incredible animals we may find all over the globe.

  • South Ari Atoll, The Maldives: December to May
  • Bay of Ghoubbet, Djibouti: October to February
  • Ko Tao, Thailand: April to June
  • Gladden Spit, Belize: April to May
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: June to December
  • Utila, Honduras: March and April

Traveling to such destinations and exploring the underwater beauty of nature is not only my favorite bucket list task but also the most incredible thing I have ever heard about. Reading all this information about the places and whale sharks and at what time they gather at any specific place, all this information will help you to book or plan your snorkeling tour to swim with whale sharks.

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