Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cancun

Cancun (Quintana Roo) is a vacation destination in the Mexican Caribbean where you can live all sorts of incredible experiences!  This destination offers several touristics attractions. Cancuns all inclusive hotels are one of them, but not the only one.  The waters surrounding Cancun, the teeny tiny island of Holbox (barely 7 miles long and 1 mile wide) and the beautiful Isla Mujeres are the scenery for a fantastic miracle of nature year after year. During the months of June, July, August and the first days of September, the largest fish in the ocean -whale sharks- come to feed and also give birth to their babies in these part of the ocean, where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea merge. The ‘plankton bloom’ present in the area suits the perfect environment for making this exact location the place with the highest concentration of whale sharks all over the globe!

These fish (yeah, theyre fish!) are some fascinating and intriguing creatures. People in general have little or no knowledge of their mere existence! They live in warm waters only in few places in the world, and come to visit the coasts of Cancun every single year. Swimming with this gigantic but gentle giants is an opportunity you shouldnt miss while vacationing in the sunny and whale shark friendly Cancun!


Whale sharks are the biggest shark and fish in the ocean. Although they’re called whale sharks, theyre by no means a kind of whale whatsoever.

A whale shark can be up to 46 feet long (the average size is about 25 feet) and weigh as much as 15 tons!

This gigantic sea inhabitants have a huge mouth, which can be up to 4 feet wide, at the very front of their wide and flat heads. The eyes of a whale shark are very small, as in all sharks, making them the first distinguishing characteristic, as well as its rounded snout. It has 5 large gill slits, 2 dorsal fins on its back and 2 more pectoral fins on the sides. The tail fin is a lot larger than the lower fin. Probably, what makes them totally distinguishable is the large number of little yellow spots and stripes that cover their whole bodies.


Theres nothing to be afraid of! They dont eat humans. Never have, never will! You might like to know their 3,000 tiny teeth have no use, since theyre filter feeders! They only eat small crustacean plankton and small fish. Again, they won ´t harm you. Theyre actually most of the times indifferent to divers. That doesnt mean you can ride their backs and try hard to take a picture of your head inside a whale sharks mouth (but you can definitely do that in the Universal Studios in Florida or California, USA). These are solitary creatures, but theyll be OK with swimming or snorkeling along with you for a while. They cant swim really fast (they cant actually reach more than 3 mph), so swimming along with one of them will not be a hard task. Diving is less probable, since they like to spend most of their time near the surface.


May is really the month when whale sharks start reaching the waters surrounding Cancun. However, for a 100% sighting guarantee, June 1st to September is the best time to book a whale shark snorkeling tour. Whale sharks are not on a contract and it ´d be very disappointing if you ´d venture the ocean with the sole purpose of an encounter and found nothing there! During that time of the year, the water is not as clear as it usually is (maximum visibility drops to 20 to 30 feet), but that ´s because all of the microscopic plankton present in the water, which is the reason whale sharks will come along! Swimming and snorkeling among with these creatures is an unforgettable experience. Usually, only two people at a time get off the boat, so as not to bother the whale shark and make it go away. But you can do it again for as many times as you want to. If you don’t feel confident enough, you can still enjoy the whale shark encounter from the boat and take lots of pictures.

This is a highly recommended tour if youre up to adventure and having a fantastic time. If you suffer from seasickness, go to a pharmacy and ask for some kind of medicine which can help you get over the bad feeling, but theres absolutely no way you miss the chance of living this adventure of a lifetime!

Fermin Ramos


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