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Can You Swim With a Whale Shark in Cancun?

Should you take a tour near Playa Mujeres to swim with Whale Sharks and is it safe to do so? Read this article and find out before your next trip to Cancun.

Cancun is home to an abundance of stunning wildlife and natural wonders. But some may say that one of the most astounding and breathtaking experiences lies in the surrounding Caribbean oceans. Yes, in these beautiful waters, you can actually swim with sharks that can grow bigger than a school bus.

The best part? These incredible creatures are gentle giants that are usually regarded as safe swimming partners for Extraordinary Moments underwater. However, as an environmentally conscious traveler, you likely also want to make sure that you do not harm the sharks or their environment. Let us examine this together.  

What are Cancun´s whale sharks?

Whale sharks set themselves apart from many of the other types of sharks out there. Though technically classified as sharks these beings gain their name due to their enormous size and because like many whales they are filter feeders with their mouths at the front of their heads. They feed mostly on microscopic plankton and shrimp and lack the sharp rows of huge teeth people usually associate with sharks.

Since whales are actually mammals the whale shark is officially classified as the world's largest fish. These gorgeous giants can grow up to 40 feet long and weigh up to 25,000 pounds. Even though average sizes can be somewhat smaller that is still a big fish. 

Example of a Whale Sharks toothless mouth in Cancun, Mexico

Is it dangerous to swim with whale sharks?

Considering their gigantic size and their classification as sharks most people might think twice when thinking about the idea of swimming with a whale shark. However, one of the most outstanding features of this endangered species is just how friendly and peaceful they are.

Most whale sharks are happy to swim past people and generally just ignore their presence. However, it should be noted that whilst these creatures would not intentionally harm anyone if you were to try and touch a whale shark in Cancun you would likely graze your skin on its rough exterior. This is what is often referred to as shark burn and is one of the reasons you should keep a relative distance from them. 

Thankfully, this can be easily avoided by not reaching out to touch them. Instead, you can swim gracefully with these stunning creatures in peace and enjoy the majestic beauty of these ocean giants. 

When is the whale shark season?

If you are searching online for the whale shark season in Cancun then you will likely get a variety of different and sometimes contradictory answers. Some specify that the season starts in April or May whilst others say July or August. So which is it?

Well if you check when the tour guides actually offer whale shark excursions and snorkeling experiences near the Cancun resorts then you will find the real answer. Though it is possible to see a whale shark at any point during the year, whale sharks can mostly be seen from the middle of May to the middle of September.

The peak season for seeing these creatures, however, often lies between July and August. 

Diver swimming near a whale shark in the Caribbean Sea

How to swim responsibly with whale sharks

Whilst it is safe for you to swim with the shark, the question remains, whether it is safe for the sharks to swim with you. Is it ethical to swim with these mighty creatures or does it harmfully affect them?

Well, when it is done right it is perfectly fine to swim in the same water as these sharks. Even the WWF has supported ecotourism projects to swim responsibly with these wonderful beings.

However, there are a few codes of conduct that can ensure that you do not disturb them or their natural environment. The first thing to remember is that you should never ever touch them. In fact, to avoid such you should keep a decent amount of distance between yourself and the shark out of respect. A recommendation of at least 5 meters distance is ideal.

You also do not want to stress the beautiful sharks out with crowding or lots of noise as this can impact their eating habits and contentment. Instead, try to keep noise to a minimum, enter the water slowly, and go with a guide who only takes a couple of people at a time. In addition, make sure that you always swim from the side or back of the shark and never from the front so that you do not scare them.

There are of course other more common guides that go for most ocean expeditions such as not using a flashlight in the water and using biodegradable sunscreen that will not harm the sea life. 

If you follow these ecofriendly steps you can enjoy an incredible experience alongside one of nature's most incredible wonders. As an endangered species, they deserve our respect, our wonder, and our care

Where you can stay nearby

To swim with whale sharks in Cancun you first need to get there and find a place to stay. Though there are many options to choose from, if you are wanting somewhere a little more exclusive with easy access to the ocean you might want to take a look at Excellence Playa Mujeres.

Excellence Playa Mujeres overlooks the Caribbean ocean

This All inclusive adults only resort is set right on the coast and works closely with Seasons Tours whale shark adventures which they offer daily during the active seasons. As part of this tour, they can take you from the lobby to the Marina which is only five to ten minutes away.

By booking your escape to Excellence Playa Mujeres you can enjoy Extraordinary Moments in the water with the whale sharks and you can plan out your snorkeling and swimming activities easily. 

These underwater tours have professional guides who know all about these beautiful beings and the environment around them. As biologists and naturalists, they can tell you even more about the whale sharks in Cancun and ensure that you get the best possible experience amongst these gentle giants of the Caribbean. 


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