Snorkeling With Whale Sharks - Akumal Mexico

by Joan
(Pennsylvania, USA)

I've gone to Akumal Beach in Mexico. I've heard of a "Snorkeling with Whale Sharks" has anyone tried it? I'm afraid I'd spend a day trip riding around the ocean and never see any. Has anyone ever had any experiences?

Comments for Snorkeling With Whale Sharks - Akumal Mexico

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Jan 21, 2012
Whale shark experience
by: JB

It's awesome! A very neat and special experience. The best months are July and August.

**Word to the wise, plan your day trip with the whale sharks when the water is most calm - use a website to check the waves before you book if you can (we signed up when the report showed the days with little to no waves).**

We went this past August and we saw our fair share of whale sharks. We stayed south of Playa, but the whale shark tour picks you up by a tour bus and brings you up near Cancun.

Then the boat takes you out somewhere near Isla Mujeres. On our tour there were only 10-12 people, the captain, and the guide. Basically the boat takes you out and gets you pretty close to the gentle giants and then you jump in, with the guide, and swim along side of them for a few minutes until you can't keep up with them... then the boat picks you up and then the next 2 people take their turn. I think we had 5 turns.

We could have gone again, but by then, you are tired. After we had our share of the whale sharks, the boat went to Isla Mujeres so we could snorkel some spots and hang out. We left around 6am and got back to our place maybe 4pm, granted we were the first picked up and the last dropped off. All in all, it was a great experience. Make sure you get pics!

Feb 05, 2012
Isla Holbox
by: Doug

My wife and I have snorkeled with whale sharks twice, July 2009 and August 2010. Both times we stayed on Isla Holbox, which is about as far from Cancun as Playa del Carmen but the other direction, around on the north side of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The experience was incredible enough the first time to lure us back for the second, which turned out to be even more amazing, as in addition to the whale sharks we also got to snorkel with a manta ray for several minutes.

Mexico has established strict rules for whale shark tours and ours worked exactly as JB described, with no more than 10 customers on a boat and only 2 of those, plus the guide, in the water at a time. On our first trip we were nervous about getting enough time in the water for what we expected to be a one-time experience so sprung for a private tour. Not necessary, as it's quite a workout keeping up with the sharks and even on the group trip the guide let us take as many turns as we wanted -- I think I lasted 8.

The rules don't apply to manta rays so when we happened to spot one before finding the sharks everyone but the captain hit the water at once. Swimming with the manta was so thrilling and unexpected that our second time with the whale sharks was almost anticlimactic.

Isla Holbox is beyond low-key. Few if any buildings over 3 stories tall, no big resorts, no paved roads, no cars -- everybody on the island drives golf carts.

We stayed at a gorgeous little place right on the beach, just a few blocks from the town square. There are a surprising number of excellent Italian restaurants in town, thanks to a large local immigrant population.

There's not really any other snorkeling in the area but if you want to escape the crowds for a few days we highly recommend it.

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