At a length of 40 feet and a weight of some 47,000 pounds, on average, along with a mouth which is filled with some 350 rows of teeth, Whale Sharks are the world’s biggest mammals and certainly the scariest ones too. Swimming with Whale Sharks could be the ultimate experience some of us yearn to have in our lifetimes. There are many places where it is possible to catch the Whale Shark in all its glory, if the urge to take flash photography or touch the beast can be controlled that is. The natural habitats of these gentle giants are seas with warm temperature so there should’ve been virtually endless number of places to swim with these however the numbers of Whale Sharks are rapidly declining. This curated list of places can ensure that you have a successful swim with the fish.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Whale Sharks are one of the prime attractions in the island of Holbox located in the north of Mexico. Even though tourist activity lasts from June to September but the maximum number of encounters take place between June and August as this is the time when Whale Sharks arrive from the deeper seas for mating purposes. Tourists don’t have to worry about staying in the area as recently a large number of hotels have opened up including some extremely cheap options to some mid-range and a couple of plush hotels as well.
Utila, Republic of Honduras
This place should be considered as the haven of swimming with whale sharks for everyone who is low on budget. Utila has the cheapest dive tickets as compared to any other place in the world. Apart from the low prices, this is the only place where Whale Sharks are spotted in every month of the year though the numbers of spotting vary. The most number of the fish are observed between the months of March and April and the lowest sightings take place between September and December so one should plan accordingly. There are multiple cheap options for staying but Deep Blue Utila is the only luxury accommodation available presently.
Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Some 1200 km north of Perth, the capital of west coast, lays Australia’s largest and most accessible coral reef of Ningaloo. The significance of this can be judged from the fact that it has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO as it contains over 500 species of fish in relatively short confines of 300 square kilometers. These characteristics make it an especially popular spot for fish researchers and hobbyists but Whale Sharks stand out from the crowd here too. The most popular time with the highest probability of spotting a whale shark is between the middle of March to July. Since this is a popular location and hobbyists from all over the world gather here so there is no shortage of accommodation options in the vicinity.
Gladden Spit, Belize
Belize is a small country on the northeast coast of Central America where it is easy to see and swim with whale sharks in the months of April and May. The days immediately after the full moon are especially important and the chances of seeing one are greatest in these days. There are some basic accommodations but better options are available in the town of Placencia which is at a distance of some 40km from Gladden Spit.
Donzol Bay, Philippines
Even though Whale Sharks have only been recently (1998), discovered in Donzol Bay, it has become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations in a very short time. It has been reported that the number of Whale Sharks has been on a decline but the chance of seeing and swimming with one is still very high during the months of February to April. Even though the density of tourists has increased by manifolds, the town hasn’t grown in the same proportion and there are still few proper accommodations for tourists.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Tao is one of the cheaper diving options in this part of the world which is located at a short distance from the island of Koh Phangan which is famous for its parties. The Whale Sharks are usually spotted at a short distance from the island which can be covered on a boat in just 15 minutes. The best time for the spotting of Whale Shark in this area has been between April and June. There are a number of comfortable lodgings on the island such as Big Blue or Bans.
South Ari Atoll, Maldives
Maldives is famous for hosting Whale Sharks throughout the year where the Western Side of the Indian Ocean has them between May and December after which they move towards the east side until April. There are many guesthouses and resorts on the island many of which plan their own trips which can be a cheaper option instead of booking an independent trip.
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This guest post is written by Frank Lee, he works at Rebateszone.