Snorkeling with Whale Sharks

One of the biggest draw cards of the Riviera Maya is the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks in the Caribbean Sea from June to September. The waters off the coast off Cancun, less than an hour’s drive from Playa del Carmen, offer one of the best sites in the world for whale shark spotting. Condo Hotels can arrange a professional tour, including all equipment, breakfast and lunch with guaranteed sightings of these majestic creatures.

Whale Shark in Playa del Carmen

We departed Playa del Carmen at 6:30 AM, arriving at the marina near Cancun about an hour later. After a quick breakfast, we boarded the speedboat and were given a briefing on the feeding patterns of the sharks, as well as a safety briefing.

The boat ride out to the feeding site was about 45 minutes, and I would recommend taking precautions for sea sickness, as some people on our boat did suffer. Of course, once we spotted the first fins, tails and enormous heads gliding through the water with huge gaping mouths, all was forgotten.

Whale shark mouth

We were in awe already, and we hadn’t even taken to the water yet.

Though there were about ten on our boat, only three people were permitted at a time with each guide, ensuring the safety of both the sharks and swimmers. It is a privilege to be able to observe these majestic creatures carry out their natural feeding patterns in the wild, so touching them is not permitted.

There were times, however, when the sharks came quite close, especially the huge tail fins which power the enormous creatures through the water.

Our guides encouraged us to swim towards the head of the shark, in the direction they were swimming, then swim alongside them for as long as we could keep up.

Staring into the eye of these magnificent fish and watching them filter water through their huge, gaping gills was an experience I will never forget.

whale shark eye

Truly a once in a lifetime experience!

After the group had two turns in the water each, we headed to the gorgeous Isla Mujeres for lunch. The boat anchored in the crystal clear waters of the shallow lagoon at the north end of the island, and we had a refreshing dip as the crew prepared a delicious lunch of sandwiches and fresh ceviche.

It was a wonderfully relaxing end to an exciting day swimming with the giants of the sea. Check out the video for a glimpse of what to expect, although keep in mind that nothing compares to seeing them in person!