Hope you’re doing well! We had the chance to go swimming with whale sharks in Mexico and it was an experience unlike any other. I’ll be honest and say that I almost passed on this opportunity. It was one of the last days of our honeymoon in Cancun and our vacation had already been packed with amazing activities. And while I’m normally always up for adventure, this particular adventure…
…happened to require a very early morning wake-up call. I don’t know about you, but I get up early for work most days and my one unspoken vacation rules is that I don’t wake up early unless a) something amazing is going to happen or b) there is an amazing cup of coffee waiting for me.
Well, I’m pleased to say that both were delivered on this excursion (although I didn’t partake in the coffee, which I was very thankful for later – you’ll see why!).
We arranged our excursion through Juan Carlos at Cancun Scuba Center via email and a driver picked us up from Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa early in the morning.
We had an hour car ride from there to the boat dock, where the crew offered us a complimentary breakfast of pastries, coffee and juice and went over the basics of what to expect when swimming with whale sharks. Most important thing to remember – jump in the water when they yell at you to JUMP!
The boat ride out to the whale sharks took about an hour – we sped over the water until there was no land in sight. It was just us, the wide open sea, and a whole lot of boats all searching for the same thing – the illustrious whale shark.
Todd and I slipped on our snorkel gear and we were first on deck to swim with the whale sharks. When the boat captain yelled at us to jump, I didn’t think, I just plunged into the water and saw this swimming at us with its mouth open…
But don’t worry, whale sharks don’t eat meat. They much prefer plankton. And there’s a snorkel guide who swims with you, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the open ocean.
The whale shark is truly one of the most majestic, peaceful creatures I’ve ever seen. This particular whale shark didn’t seem to be bothered by us at all – and, in fact, it brushed right up against us and got so close it accidentally hit me with its fin as it was swimming by.
We tried to keep up with the whale sharks, but they swim fast (compared to humans, anyway) – the typical whale shark is up to 65 feet long, weighs up to 75,000 lbs., and swim about 3 miles per hour.
Each couple on the boat gets three chances to swim with the whale sharks, and the boat has to keep repositioning around the sharks. This is where it gets a little tricky. While you’re waiting for your turn, the boat rocks. A LOT. And, well, as you can imagine, that’s not a good thing when you’ve eaten a full breakfast. Pretty much everyone on the boat, including me, got seasick. Good thing I was packing enough Dramamine for our entire boat.
After everyone on the boat got several chances to swim with the sharks, we headed over to Isla Mujeres, where they served us drinks and shrimp ceviche, and let us float around in the beautiful, crystal clear blue water.
Swimming with whale sharks is hands down one of our favorite travel experiences yet. These beautiful creatures are the gentle giants of the ocean and it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with them in their natural environment. Well worth an early morning wake-up. Besides, how many people can say they’ve gone swimming with the world’s largest fish?! That, in one word, is amazing.
Check out the whale shark’s migratory patterns to see if they’re coming to waters near you soon.
View more photos from our Cancun trip.
Would you ever swim with whale sharks? Done it before? Tell us in the comments below – we live for your comments!
We’ll be posting a new story from our travel adventures every Tuesday/Thursday, so check back on Thursday for our latest adventure!
How cool! I went on my first snorkeling excursion this fall near Playa del Carmen. My husband would freak out to swim with whale sharks – they’re his favorite animal.
Hi Lydia – thanks for stopping by! We love Playa del Carmen – and swimming with whale sharks is truly an amazing experience – we highly recommend it! We were there in June, and it was a great time to try it. The whale sharks were pretty far out in the open ocean when we went – we heard they come closer to shore (Isla Mujeres) a bit later in the season – that would be even more incredible. The water off Isla Mujeres is so clear and blue!!!
Wow, that excursion looks absolutely amazing! We were in Cancun last April and got to swim with the Rays it sure was fun… wish I knew about the whale shark opportunity ,…. would have loved that!
Hi Brenda! Swimming with rays sounds like fun too – Todd went swimming with them at Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman – the pics he got with them looked amazing! Definitely adding that one to my bucket list – maybe I’ll get the chance to try it on our Oahu trip coming up in May. You’ll have to try out the whale shark opportunity next time you’re in Cancun and let us know what you think of it! 🙂
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Wow you guys got so close! I accidentally ran into one here in Costa Rica while I was snorkeling and when you’re not expecting to see one, let me just say it is REALLY scary since they’re so big! Looks like an amazing experience – hope next time I get as close as you guys!
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Wow, that’s awesome that you encountered a whale shark by chance! I’d probably be a little scared too if that happened and I wasn’t expecting to see one. 🙂 They really are amazing creatures – would love to see them in Costa Rica too! What time of year is best to see them there?