Swimming with whale sharks!
When to go.
Swimming with whale sharks is an exhilarating experience no matter where you do it. There are lots of places all over the globe or you can swim with whale sharks. We chose Isla Mujeres because it’s also one of our favorite vacation destinations.
The whale shark season in Isla Mujeres starts at the end of May and continues through the beginning of September. This is the only time that you can see the whale sharks in Isla due to their migratory patterns.
Where to start.
The most important thing to consider when swimming with whale sharks is to find a licensed, competent operator to take you. There are plenty to choose from on Isla Mujeres.
We chose Jim Silver with Aqua Adventures Eco Divers. We initially met him years ago during our first trip to Isla. He owns a dive shop on the island that has options for any type of water activity. Click here for more information on Jim’s shop.
Jim’s shop coordinates everything for you. All you have to do is pick your day and time and all of the details are handled by them.
What to expect.
You have two options for times for the whale shark two hours. The first being 8 AM and the second being 1 PM. I highly recommend the 8 AM because you’re out of the hot sun and you definitely get to see more well sharks in the morning before the sun gets too hot for them
You’ll meet at the dive shop at 7:45 and fill out your paperwork. The staff member will then walk you over to the pier. There, they will assign you to your boat, get you set up with your life jackets and have you meet your crew.
Boats have a max of 10 customers and 3 crew, so they are never overcrowded.
On the boat.
The ride on the boat to where the whale sharks are is about 45 min to 1 hour. I highly recommend taking bottles of water and snacks but most importantly, layering on the sunscreen. Even that early in the morning you will get burnt. Burnt skin equals nauseous bellies and no fun when you get to the whale sharks.
Isla Mujeres requires that use an eco-friendly sunscreen while in the waters here. My favorite is Stream2Sea. It protects well and is all has all natural ingredients.
FInding the sharks.
Some days this can be a bit difficult. We happened to have a spectacular day. A couple of other boats and already found where the whale sharks were feeding. Once you get to the sharks the crew will get you set up.
Two people at a time will get their snorkeling gear on and jump in the water. You’re allowed to take your camera, a snorkel and mask. Fins are not allowed so that you don’t accidentally kick the whale sharks.
In the water.
Once in the water you and your partner will have plenty of time to swim with the whale sharks and take lots of pictures. After a certain amount of time they will call you out of the water so the next two people can go in.
Everybody will have a chance to go at least two times and sometimes more depending on timing.
The whale sharks are huge! Most of them longer than a regular size school bus. They are gentle animals that will not hurt you. Trying to describe the experience of swimming with them can not be done with words.
We counted 32 whale sharks that day. A massive amount!!!! Our boat spent a good hour and a half in the water. We got amazing pictures and video but most importantly memories that will last a life time.
After the swim.
After your amazing swim with the whale sharks, the crew has sandwiches, soda and water for the ride back to the pier. But there are still a few surprises in store!
Once you get back to the island, the boat stops near Mia Reef Resort so that you can snorkel the beautiful reef. They give you 1 hour to snorkel while they make you fresh delicious ceviche.
After your snorkel, you climb back into the boat for a 5 min ride over to Playa Norte. Here, you will enjoy delicious ceviche with chips in the crystal clear turquoise water.
The water is warm and clear. The crew lets you swim for about an hour or until everyone is tired. After a short trip over to he pier, your day is complete! You usually arrive back about 12:45 for a morning tour. Now the rest of the day is yours to enjoy!