Swimming With Whale Sharks in Cancun

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The waters off the Mexican resort town of Cancun are home to the whale shark, the world’s largest fish, which grows to lengths of over 40 feet (12 meters). Get up close and personal with these gentle giants on a whale shark tour. Here’s what you need to know.

When to Go
Plan your Cancun trip to coincide with whale shark season, which typically runs from mid-May through mid-September. For the best chance of a sighting, try to visit during the peak viewing period—the months of June and July.

How to Go
Join up with one of the many whale shark encounter excursions that depart from Cancun. Most trips travel one hour to Isla Holbox or Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula; both spots are known for frequent whale shark sightings. When your captain spots a whale shark, you’ll jump in the water and swim or snorkel with the gentle giant.

Things to Know
  • Join only those trips that are staffed by trained professionals who understand the right way to minimize the human impact on the whale shark and its environment.
  • When a shark is sighted, jump into the water quickly—a whale shark can swim away from you much faster than you can to it.
  • As you enjoy this amazing experience, make sure to keep your distance, and don’t touch, bother, or attempt to ride the fish.
  • Snorkelers will usually enjoy multiple whale shark sightings per trip, especially during peak season.
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