Riviera Maya offers a diverse dive-site portfolio for scuba diving, from big-animal encounters to western Caribbean coral reefs.
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Whale Sharks: Swimming With the Gentle Giants of the Sea
As if the Riviera Maya didn’t offer enough to do and see, there is one special phenomenon that takes place every year. Whale sharks – the single largest sharks in the world – make their migration through the Mexican Caribbean every summer during their mating season. From June through the end of August, you can experience a close encounter with these gentle giants of the sea. Don’t worry, they are completely harmless and feed only from plankton. Many tour operators take advantage of the summer season to bring people like you close to these school-bus-sized animals. You will find them in their natural environment in an activity you should not miss out on.
A whale shark can weigh as much as 10,000 pounds and can measure up to 40 feet long. Even though the enormity of the whale sharks can be daunting, they usually just roam around the ocean looking for plankton, fish eggs and krill to eat. Humans and other animals are not their main concern, as they are not part of their diet. However, due to their unnaturally huge size, keeping a safe distance from them is essential. You want to avoid being hit by a heavy fin.
Where can you swim with whale sharks?
The best place to find the whale sharks in the Riviera Maya is around Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox. During this migratory season it is possible to spot as many as 40 whale sharks at the same time smoothly cruising through the ocean. While snorkeling from above may make them sometimes seem very tiny from afar, once they come up close and personal you can really entertain the idea of how big they actually are. They primarily swim through the northeastern shores of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean and represent a healthy marine ecosystem. Their life expectancy is around 100 years old, although some have been reported to live up to 150. Interestingly, female whale sharks can have about 300 pups per litter. This is an opportunity not to be missed when visiting your vacation home in the Riviera Maya – be it Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. Many tours will take you to see them with experts on the subject explaining everything about them to you.
Don’t Miss This Opportunity
When you plan your next vacation to paradise, or if you are visiting during the remaining time of August, make sure to factor this amazing natural wonder into your trip. Trust us – it makes for one amazing life experience to tell people back home. Whale sharks are the gentle giants of the sea for a reason. Swimming alongside them is one of the most thrilling activities to engage in. It also makes for a sweet pro-tip to tell those renters who book your vacation rental during the summer months.
If you are looking to invest in the Riviera Maya, make sure to send your inquiries our way. Our expert Buyer’s Representatives can hook you up with the best real estate in the region. You can have your perfect paradise home right next to the whale sharks.
5 Summer Activities to Enjoy in the Riviera Maya
It feels like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating the beginning of a new year. The truth is, the year has gone by really quickly, and summer is rolling around faster than we imagined. Although Playa del Carmen and the surrounding Riviera Maya offer summer-like weather year-long, there are a few summer activities that can only be enjoyed in, well…summer. Whether you’re a permanent retiree in the gorgeous Caribbean city or a once-in-a-while visitor, these are some things you definitely need to get around doing this season.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Whale shark season comes around once a year during the summer. These gigantic, but gentle, animals are a sight to be seen. The season kicks off at the end of May and ends at the end of August. But the best month to go see them is July. They come by as part of their migration route and you can see thousands of them swimming calmly together. Many tours take you to see them. Make sure you follow rules accordingly. Although these animals feed off plankton, they are as big as a school bus, so make sure to keep your distance.
Volunteer with Turtle Nesting
Sea turtles are an endangered species, which is why in the Riviera Maya we are strong believers in conserving them. Many conservation groups and organizations work hard to monitor the nesting season, making sure as many hatchlings as possible make it out to sea and giving them a greater chance of survival. You can always volunteer to help during the season, which starts in mid-June and runs until November. NGOs are always looking for extra hands to mark the nests, release the hatchlings, and help with other duties. It’s an experience that will transform your life for good.
We all know that the Riviera Maya is heaven on earth, but there is an actual place called heaven. Cozumel is a wonderful and beautiful place for nature lovers. El Cielo is just off the coast of the island and it is only accessible by boat. This means you can spend the day cruising through the clear blue waters gliding above the sea. Founders named it El Cielo due to the amount of starfish sitting on the ocena floor. Moreover, plenty of stingrays, fish and sea turtles love the calm waters of this heavenly place. Take a family tour and enjoy the unimaginable wonders of Cozumel.
Visit Holbox Island
This gorgeous island off the coast of Quintana Roo is definitely a must-see place. The best part is its laidback charm and slow-paced life. Even more so than Tulum! During the summer season, when the whale sharks are the word of mouth, there are other slightly less known tours that include the gentle giants, but don’t end there. While cruising to find the whale sharks you’ll be able to spot dolphins, turtles and flying fish. However, after swimming and eating delicious ceviche, you’ll be able to see hundreds of flamingos.
it’s summer, so Relax and Unwind
If all of the above seem like too much work, then you can always pick the obvious option: lounging at a beach club with a drink in hand. We get it, waking up at 5am to go on a tour to see giant sharks is not for everyone (although definitely worth it). So, if you’re not heading off on one of the abovementioned adventures, hit up your favorite beach club early in the morning, get a bucket of beer and kick off the day with a sun-kissed nap. There is something for everyone in this slice of heaven.
It might be time to consider retiring in paradise if these are activities you could enjoy. There are plenty of things to visit throughout Quintana Roo and the Riviera Maya, as well as the whole Yucatan Peninsula, so retiring here means not a day of boredom and always a day of awe. Start checking out the best retirement properties in Playa del Carmen, we’ve got you covered.
10 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks
- Despite their name, the whale shark is neither a whale nor a mammal; it is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known fish species. The whale part of the name comes from its sheer size. The whale shark is an Ovoviviparous species, this means that it keeps its eggs inside her body and once they are mature; tiny whale sharks emerge alive from the mother’s body.
- The whale shark has an extremely thick skin, in some cases up to four inches thick. In addition, their skin has a much darker tone than the rest of the fish with white patterns comprising dots, vertical and horizontal lines; making really interesting patterns.
- The whale sharks huge mouth can be as big as five feet long, but swimming alongside a whale shark is 100% safe as they have no interest in consuming humans. They also have a filtration system that does not allow the passage of anything bigger than small fish like sardines and their many rows of tiny teeth are located in the back of their mouth; so they can not really harm anyone.
Whale Shark Teeth
- These majestic animals have an advanced filtration system that allows them to eat without having to swim, compared to other animals that require them to move forward to push water inside their mouth. The whale shark is able to use their gills to pull water into their mouth, where it accumulates plankton, krill and other small seafood like sardines or anchovies.
- These fish live in tropical waters at an average 700 meters deep. They are generally solitary animals, but are grouped when they find an area rich in food.
- The whale shark is known to be the world’s largest fish, with verified specimens as long as 40 feet; that is as long as a trailer. There are many reported sightings of much bigger whale sharks, over 65 feet long; but they have not been documented and therefore are considered a myth.
- Despite its imposing size, whale sharks are completely harmless and peaceful creatures. Tourists can swim very close them, and in the past visitors were even allowed to even touch them but this is no longer permitted.
- Summer is the best season to observe these magnificent creatures, especially the months from June to September. The Riviera Maya has many tour companies that organize whale shark tours, which includes everything you need to enjoy this experience.
- If you live in the Riviera Maya or are vacationing here, the best places to find whale sharks are in the area between Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Holbox Island.
- Each year an estimated 1,400 whale shark reach the coasts of the peninsula, and about 200 approach the islands of Holbox and Contoy in the state of Quintana Roo.
Swimming with the whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience, remember this is a peaceful creature but there have been reports of them attacking boats; after being harassed. If you are going on a whale shark tour, respect the whale sharks and follow the indications given by your tour guide.
Would you like to partake in unique experiences like this all the time? Consider retiring or purchasing a vacation home in Mexico there are so many things to do here, you will never run out of once in a lifetime experiences.
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