Swimming alongside the massive, filter feeding whale shark has long been a coveted experience for many divers. This animal is the largest known fish species in the ocean and can be over 40 feet in length and weigh over 21.5 metric tons. These sharks are typically found close to the surface of the water and in tropical climates. The following three tropical destinations offer almost guaranteed sightings of these beautiful creatures.
Boasting one of the world’s only year round whale shark research centers, Utila is one of the only places on earth where these docile creatures can be spotted throughout the year. Although the sharks can be spotted every month, the highest concentration of this shark species arrive during March and April. Utila is also one of the least expensive places to dive with whale sharks.
The beautiful island of Holbox, known primarily for its eco-tourism, has started to develop a growing whale shark viewing industry. From mid-June until the end of September, the sharks congregate around the island to feed and mate. The peak season for divers is usually during July and August.
Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, is known for its great concentrations of whale sharks. The reef and surrounding waters are designated as the Ningaloo Marine Park and is a protected area. However, tourism is still allowed. The sharks arrive around mid-March in order to feed and mate and are seen commonly until the end of July and August.
Wherever you choose to dive, please respect these creatures and help preserve their natural habitat. Resist the urge to touch them or use flash photography, and always stay a respectful distance away from these wonderful creatures. Above all, have fun, stay safe and dive on!