Best Places to Swim with Whale Sharks

Best Places to Swim with Whale Sharks


What are the best places to swim with whale sharks, while staying at a 5-star resort? A TravelSort client recently asked me this question, and it's one I'd already been exploring for our personal travel, as everyone in my family, especially my husband, would love to see a whale shark.

What Are Whale Sharks?

Whale sharks are members of the shark family, but are filter feeders, similar to manta rays, feeding on plankton and small fish. “Whale” refers to their size, since they are the largest known fish species alive today, but they are not mammals. The largest measured whale shark was over 40 feet long, although when born, they can be as small as 15-20 inches in length. While in the wild whale sharks can be very long lived, living 70-100 years old, they only reach maturity at 30 years of age and are an endangered species.

 

Snorkeling with Whale Shark Tips

Before you jump into your whale shark sighting expedition, it's important to stress a few things for the animals' well-being and for your safety:

  • Don't touch the whale shark: This should be obvious, but don't touch or try to touch the whale shark. As with manta rays, whale sharks' skin is covered by a protective mucus that helps protect against infection. Touching them not only could scare or stress the whale shark, but could also rub off some of the protective coating and put them at greater risk of infection.
  • Don't use a flash to take photo or video: Again, common sense: don't stress the animal with flash photography
  • Approach slowly, and stay well away from the tail fin: For the whale shark's well-being and your own safety, give it space and don't approach suddenly. You do need to stay well away from the powerful dorsal fin, which could painfully whack you if the whale shark decides to suddenly change direction.
  • Snorkeling is usually better than diving: While you could go deeper when diving, you'll never go as deep as the whale shark and you'll have better visibility near the surface anyway. So use your snorkel gear, and consider also using a life jacket if you're not a strong swimmer or for kids. If you're lucky, you may get to swim with a whale shark for quite some time, and the added buoyancy can be helpful.

Here are my top 3 recommendations for amazing destinations in their own right, where you may also be able to swim and snorkel with whale sharks:

1. The Maldives: South Ari Atoll and Baa Atoll

When: June-October for Baa Atoll; year round for South Ari Atoll

Where to Stay: Soneva Fushi, Conrad Maldives, Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

TravelSort Clients may reserve Soneva Fushi with these Virtuoso amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Champagne and Maldivian Tapas
  • Original handcrafted arrival and departure mementos
  • A complimentary lunch for up to two people, once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • With a minimum 5 night stay guests also receive:
  • Shoreline Beach dinner
  • Private sunset sailing by Dhoni at Baa Atoll
  • Flavorful Six Senses cuisine (organic vegetables) cooking class for two

Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru Preferred Partner Benefits:

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
  • Spa credit of USD100 once during stay (not applicable to products)
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas)
  • Complimentary basic Internet (up to 2 devices) in all guest rooms, complimentary premium Internet (up to 4 devices) in all suites

Dive with: Each resort has its own dive center and snorkeling and diving price list.

Best Places to Swim with Whale Sharks - Maldives

 

2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Trip to Holbox

When: June-August

Where to Stay: Rosewood Mayakoba

TravelSort Clients may reserve Rosewood Mayakoba with these Virtuoso amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Dive with: Holbox Whale Shark Tours

Best Places to See Whale Sharks-Holbox, Playa del Carmen Rosewood Mayakoba


3. The Seychelles: South Mahe

When: September-October

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Seychelles, Fregate Island Private

Fregate Island Private Virtuoso Amenities

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • 85 EUR Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • 1 hour snorkeling excursion
  • 1 hour sunset cruise/ Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability or $100 USD equivalent Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles Preferred Partner Benefits

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
  • Food and beverage credit of USD100
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas)
  • Complimentary basic Internet (up to 2 devices) in all guest rooms, complimentary premium Internet (up to 4 devices) in all suites

Dive with: I recommend Dive Resort Seychelles for most Seychelles diving, and am checking with them about whale shark snorkeling–will update once I hear back. Fregate Island of course has its own PADI certified dive team.

Best Places to Swim with Whale Sharks - Seychelles

 

Have you had a chance to swim with whale sharks, and if so, where?

Related Posts

Review: Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

Review: Manta Ray Night Dive with Kona Diving Company

Diving and Snorkeling at Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan Near Bali

Park Hyatt Maldives Diving and Snorkeling: What to See

 

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Photos: Four Seasons Maldives, PADI, Rosewood Mayakoba

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