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Whale Sharks in Cancun? Here's How to See Them

If you are looking to make your vacation an unforgettable one, you should take advantage of the rare opportunity to swim whale sharks in Cancun. These beautiful and impressive animals call the Yucatan coastal area their home for a few months every year. If you’re looking to spot the largest fish in the sea, it’s important to be at the right place at the right time to see this magnificent species.

When Are the Whale Sharks in Cancun?

 The season for seeing whale sharks in Cancun typically runs from May to early September. To maximize your chance of seeing whale sharks, come in mid June through August, the peak season for whale sharks in Cancun. However, you might be able to see them as early as April or as late as October when they come into the Caribbean waters of Mexico for breeding.

Where Can I See the Whale Sharks?

 Whale sharks can be spotted with a short boat ride off the shores of Cancun. Whale sharks are often found near Isla Mujeres as well as Holbox Island. Another area that can be explored while looking for whale sharks in Cancun is the nearby Contoy Island.

Contrary to what many people believe, whale sharks in Cancun don’t breach the surface, as they are gill-breathing fish who need to be underwater versus an air breathing whale. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t see them!

During your Cancun whale shark tour, you will be provided with snorkeling equipment, which will allow you to move swiftly and explore below the surface to spot these incredible animals.

Do be prepared to hop in the water to see them rather than a typical whale watching tour where you might expect to see them breach from the boat.

The best way to see whale sharks is go on a whaleshark tour that include the opportunity to spend up to 2-3 hours finding and swimming with these gentle giants.

What is the Minimum Age?

 Kids need to be six or older and comfortable in the water to enjoy the whale shark tour. Children as young as 2 years old may come along in the boat if accompanied by an adult.

Women who are pregnant may join the tours up until week 28 of the pregnancy. Let your guide know and you’ll be seated in the more stable part of the boat to avoid unnecessary danger.

Tour Guides

As part of a Cancun whale shark tour, you will be accompanied by tour guides that will bring the experience to a whole new level. Out in the open ocean, our tour guides will search the seas for signs of the whale sharks, and utilize their close network of local fisherman and boat captains. Once you’ve found the big fish, you’ll pull up in the boat and take the plunge of a lifetime to swim with these gentle giants.

Because of the need to wear snorkeling equipment and the skill needed to find the whale sharks, having a guide by your side is what will significantly improve the chances of having a successful adventure. Anyone at any swimming skill level can do this with the help of our great guides as lifejackets are included.

Guides work incredibly hard to ensure your safety and help you have a great time. They also work hard to help you get a chance to find and swim with the whale sharks. With that said, they will also prioritize the safety and well being of the animals and not put the animals in a potentially harmful situation. We are big fans of the original tour operator who created the first ever whale shark excursion in Cancun for just this reason!

Getting There

 Most tours offer you pickup services from your hotel or a specific meeting point near your hotel to take you to the pier from which your boat will leave. After a transfer to the boat you will be a 5-30 minute ride away from your destination depending on which tour you choose to do.

Keep in mind that you will be spending a few hours on the boat as you track down these majestic animals. You should bring sunscreen to protect yourself and ensure everyone in your group is comfortable with this boat ride. While the waters are typically fairly calm, those prone to seasickness should bring medicine along.

Those with disabilities are welcome to be part of the Cancun whale shark tour. Share your needs at the time of booking, days prior to arrival, to ensure proper accommodations may be made. .

Additional Experiences

Most tours that involve whale sharks in Cancun also offer you additional experiences as a part of the excursion. These typically include snorkeling in other areas where you will be able to see the underwater fauna and flora.

Additionally, they will often include a trip to Isla Mujeres and one of its beautiful beaches, or up to Holbox further north. Since these are usually long excursions, the Cancun whale shark tour frequently offers food and snacks to ensure you will enjoy the entirety of your experience.

Seeing the whale sharks in Cancun is an amazing experience that you can enjoy on your own, with friends, or with the entire family. You will get plenty of time to swim with the whale sharks as well as the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful waters of the Riviera Maya. Contact us to book your tour and take your vacation to the next level!

Reviewed by: Mila

Mila Rojas is a Venezuelan travel and culture writer who has traveled extensively in the Caribbean and Latin America. Her local and regional expertise and interests in food and the arts have informed her work for travel blogs such as She's Wanderful and media outlets such as The Caracas Chronicles.  

All of our content at Tourbase is written by experienced travel writers who have visited all of the locations we recommend. And our review board of local tourism experts ensure that all the information we provide is accurate, current and helpful

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