Riviera Maya offers a diverse dive-site portfolio for scuba diving, from big-animal encounters to western Caribbean coral reefs.
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.
The whale sharks have returned once again to Quintana Roo. Whale shark season runs from June to September, until the time has come for them to move to their next destination.
In the meantime, you have the chance to live one of the most stunning experiences in life, swimming next to them and being able to see them in their natural environment.
Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet and with a life span of 70 – 100 years they can reach up to 40 feet long (12 meters) and weigh an average of 5 tons, though larger and heavier have been spotted.
Surprisingly for such a large mammal their mouths are filters feeders, meaning that they cannot bite or chew so their diet consists mostly of plankton which makes them completely harmless to humans.
In the Yucatan Peninsula you can take advantage of this annual gathering of the whale sharks at Holbox or at Isla Mujeres.
With a past record breaking number of 400 whale sharks arriving off the Yucatan Coast at one time, it’s one of the largest known gathering of whale sharks on record. You are almost guaranteed not to be disappointed.
The Island of Holbox is located on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon.
This Island is well known for its fishing and rural qualities but every year for the few months the whale sharks appear the little fishing village is bursting with people wanting to welcome the whale sharks back.
It is good to consider that with the new toll way to Merida, you can get to Holbox in 1 hour and 30 minutes, for 90 pesos each way.
Related: 10 Things to Do in Merida
Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Island of Women) is approx. 13 kilometers off the Yucatan Peninsula coast with easy access to the Island from Cancun, which makes this island a great day trip for tourists.
Isla Mujeres is usually a quiet place, but with the whale sharks yearly visit this little island of under 13,000 inhabitants is booming during their short visit.
You can find many tour operators located around the tourist areas both in Holbox and Isla Mujeres (or even on-line).
They usually offer boat trips out to spot these amazing creatures or even to take you swimming with the whale sharks, the experienced tour guides and divers have been doing these tours for many years and will be able to give you the best advice when swimming with the largest fish on the earth.
Be sure to shop around to get the best price and value for your money!
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- 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.
From dreaming to owning your dream home in Mexico, Top Mexico Real Estate has a decade team of Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives with the experience in helping foreigners become homeowners in Mexico.
Top Mexico Real Estate…
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