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Swimming With Whale Sharks In Mexico: A Complete Guide

swimming with whale sharks mexico - MAIN -whale shark picture - nado con tiburón ballena en mexico

No matter whether you dream of swimming with whale sharks or just have listened to stories about the whale sharks in Isla Mujeres. It doesn’t matter if you are an adventurer looking for new sensations, or just a nature lover, swimming with whale sharks in Mexico will be the adventure of a lifetime for sure.

These gentle animals are as majestic as elegant. For that reason, if you are lucky enough to swim with whale sharks, remember to follow the good practice rules, and use the tips in this article.

1. Whale Sharks Mexico FAQS

1.1. Where To Swim with Whale Sharks?

There are different places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks: the Maldives, Philippines, Tanzania, Australia, Mozambique, and, of course, Mexico.

Isla Mujeres whale shark swimming is the best-known, together with the Holbox whale shark season. Both are in the Mexican Caribbean close to Cancún.


1.2. When Are Whale Sharks in Cancun?

The whale shark season in Cancun is from early June to mid-September

The largest fish of the ocean only visit Mexico during some months of the year, from early June to mid-September. During this season the pristine water of The Caribbean Sea will be their home.


1.3. Can A Whale Shark Swallow a Human?

No, it cannot.

Yes, we know. Swimming with whale sharks, you will be together with the biggest shark in the world. It is impressive.

If this were not enough, a whale shark’s mouth is enormous (nearly 5 feet/ 1.3m wide) and full of tiny teeth (3,000). But their throats are extremely narrow with a diameter like a coin. So, they can’t swallow you

not even wanting, and they don’t want to because of their love for plankton.


1.4. Is Swimming with Whale Sharks Hard?

No. it isn’t. It is very easy. Something like that:

You jump into the Caribbean Sea. The turquoise waters embrace you while a school of grunt fish swims by your side. Your snorkel gear is ready, but when the shadow of the giant appears you need to remind yourself to breathe. Such a magnificent animal it is! You start fin kicking to swim alongside the whale shark for as much time as possible.

When everything is finished you are sure you will never forget that day when you were snorkeling with whale sharks in Mexico.

swimming with whale sharks mexico - pictures of the whale shark - nado con tiburón ballena en mexico

1.5. Can Kids Swim with Whale Sharks?

Yes, they can. Kids 6 years and older can in Cancun swim with whale sharks.


1.6. Is Swimming with Whale Sharks Ethical?

Yes, it is. Whale shark snorkeling is a touristic activity that has helped many people to know and love these animals.

That has meant a greater awareness regarding whale shark conservation by fishermen and government agencies.

In addition, the information shared by tourists is valuable to scientists’ research.

Furthermore, whale shark tours in Isla Mujeres strictly follow the regulations and good practices so as not to harass the animals. Below we show you how to distinguish responsible operators from those who are not.


1.7. Why Can’t You Scuba Dive with Whale Sharks?

The truth is that whale shark diving does not make much sense. Whale sharks feed at the surface, and scuba requires prior instruction that not everyone has.

Notice that there are places where scuba diving with whale sharks is forbidden.


1.8. Is Swimming with Whale Sharks Safe?

Yes. Swimming with whale sharks is safe for humans and animals as long as tourists and boats follow good recommended practices.


2. How To Swim with Whale Sharks?

2.1. Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico Best Practices

The right way to swim with whale sharks follows common sense procedures. Whale sharks are very peaceful animals, but they are wild and live freely. It is something we must not forget. Also, we should remember they are massive animals, which can reach lengths of 40 feet / 12 meters, as long as a school bus! However, they have been declared endangered since 2016.

In order to guarantee the enjoyment of the tourist and the conservation of whale sharks and their habitat, the Mexican government, together with different NGOs, such as WWF or PADI Project Aware, promote good environmental practices in swimming with whale shark tourism. Dressel Divers with its Go Green project supports such measures.

The code of conduct and suggestions include swimming with whale sharks trusting only authorized operators, not feeding nor touching the animals, and not using any tanning lotion or sunscreen.

We share with you the Project Aware’s whale sharks interaction guidelines.

How the boat should approach whale sharks

Boats must make a controlled approach and they will moderate speed as they approach the shark.

The boat will never stop closer than 10 meters/32 feet from the animal and keep 23-30 m when moving.

The crew will organize the groups on board. A maximum of 2 persons are allowed swim with a whale shark in Mexico. If there are more people, you will enter the water in turns.

Prepare your snorkel tube and mask. We advise you to wear a life jacket throughout the swim.

If you use sunscreen, make sure it’s biodegradable.

Into the water

Follow the guides’ instructions. They will tell you when and how to make a controlled entry into the water. You will wait for the animal, anticipating its trajectory and far enough away so that the whale shark can continue in the direction it travels.

Wait for the shark with the snorkel in your mouth. Put your head in the water, looking in its direction along the waterline, never down.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico

When the animal reaches your position, swim next to it. NOT in front of it, NOT behind it.

If you swim in front of it, you will hinder its movement. It can disturb the whale shark. It is an animal of more than 50,000 pounds (25 tons) that moves 3 miles per hour/5 km per hour. Do not think for a moment that you will be able to stop it.

If you go after it, you’ll miss the show. Maybe you can swim at the same speed as a whale shark, but for how long. Let us also remember that the tail can be a potential danger.

While practicing whale shark snorkeling, remember to keep a safe distance. You will have to swim 5 meters / 16 feet from the whale shark’s head or central part of the body and more, if you can, from the tail.

Never touch the whale shark or try to ride on it.

Don’t feed the animals.

Of course, you can take photos and videos while swimming with whale sharks, but you can’t use a flash because it could disturb them.

When a whale shark is stressed, it rolls its eyes. Also, it tilts to one side when uncomfortable. If either of these two things happens, stop what you’re doing and let it go.

2.2. What Equipment do I Need to Swim with Whale Sharks?

For whale shark swimming in Cancun, you will need a life vest, snorkel, mask and short neoprene wetsuit if you want.


3. The Best Whale Shark Tour

Not all whale shark swimming experiences are responsible.

This is our advice.

Inform yourself and only book the excursion through authorized operators.

  1. Ask for the number of guides that will accompany you. It is mandatory that at least one guide is in the water with you.
  2. Request the procedure followed by the company to approach the animal and ask if you are going to be able to see the animal from very close to the boat. Remember that they cannot get closer than 10 meters /32 feet.
  3. Check TripAdvisor reviews. This will also give you a clear idea of what the whale shark experience in Isla Mujeres will be like.

These are some Dressel Divers reviews.

WOW! Whale Shark Snorkeling Trip! AMAZING!

Review of Dressel Divers

Reviewed August 28, 2018

Mica Laboureau from Dressel Divers at Iberostar Cancun expressed how she cried the first time she saw Whale Sharks swimming in the water. She encouraged us to definitely snorkel with them if we had the chance. The boat ride was awesome as we were surrounded by water everywhere and could not see any land. Words can not explain how remarkable it is to swim with these humongous sharks! If you get the chance, go for it! Thank you to Alex who was our Dive Master and swam around the Whale Sharks with us!

Incredible Whale Shark Trip with Amazing Staff

Review of Dressel Divers

Reviewed August, 2021

Akatzin accompanied us for the ground transportation, which we would’ve had trouble with on our own. He went above and beyond to make us feel safe and comfortable the whole way.

Memo, the captain, had the boat circle the whale sharks to corral them so we could easily see them and swim with them.

Alex is an amazing guide. He had us jump in the water at the perfect moment so we could swim with the sharks again and again. He accompanied us so we felt safe and he was careful to make sure the sharks were safe, too. His expertise and skill are remarkable.

This was a bucket list item for me and my husband and we were absolutely stunned. We highly recommend this adventure!

Nice and responsible staff

Review of Dressel Divers

Reviewed July, 2019

Went on a package that includes 6 boat dives, 1 Cozumel trip includes 2 boat dives and 1 night dive, 2 cenote dives. Plus a whale shark trip.
Fantastic time spent with all the staff and fish and animals.
Very responsible staff, giving a detailed briefing for dive site and security before every single dive.

Whale Shark Excursion

Review of Dressel Divers

Reviewed July 7, 2018 via mobile

DresselDivers is an amazing company. More importantly the guide we had for our whale shark excursion Micaela who is actually a scuba diving guide was fantastic! …
Besides all of that she was very knowledgeable about the whale sharks, what you need to do before taking the trip, what to do during the trip, how to properly put on and use your equipment, the way you get into the water, best swimming technique to keep up with the whale sharks but not get too close (so you don’t hurt them) since they are gentle giants and lastly she takes amazing pictures and videos underwater for you to have this adventure as a memory forever! She is just one of the most down to earth people I have ever met so that being said I would also recommend her is you are scuba diving. I plan on coming back soon and doing a bunch of dives with her!!

4. How Much Does It Cost to Swim with Whale Sharks?

Dressel Divers whale sharks swimming tour includes

  • Transportation between your hotel or the agreed pick-up point and the Punta Sam dock.
    • Boat ride to and from the Punta Sam dock to the site where we encounter the whale sharks. During the boat trip, we offer sandwiches, unlimited soft drinks, and beer.
    • We take turns snorkeling with the whale sharks as only 2 snorkelers and one guide are allowed in the water simultaneously.
    • On the way back we eat Ceviche (a popular dish in Mexico), onboard near Playa Norte (Isla Mujeres).

You can practice whale shark swimming with Dressel Divers from 199 USD*. Please, contact us for more information about swimming with whale sharks in Mexico.

*Price given is dated October 10, 2022. Over time, this price can vary, Check with Dressel Divers for swimming with whale sharks in Mexico cost updates!

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