Where to swim and dive with whale sharks?
by Jorge Mezcua on Jan 17, 2023
The whale shark, the largest fish in the world, is among the most desired species by many divers (and non-divers, since in many places it is not necessary to obtain a diving certificate to snorkel with these giants).
It is also one of the most enigmatic sharks and, believe it or not, little is known about it: there is no certainty about its patterns or type of reproduction. Although in some of these areas you will see below it is common to see them, it always takes a component of luck to find them, no one can assure you 100% that you will fulfill your dream of diving with whale sharks.
Ningaloo Reef, Australia
The marine park of Ningaloo Reef has an overwhelming diversity, especially considering its small size: 270 species of corals, 500 species of fish, sea turtles, dugongs or manta rays are some of the jewels of this reef... and of course, whale sharks. Approximately 85% of the whale sharks observed at Ningaloo Reef are young males that come close to the reef to coincide with the massive coral spawning.
When to see whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef?
This massive spawning takes place from April to May, a great opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks in one of the few areas in the world where they are concentrated in large numbers.
It is difficult to watch a diving video in Galapagos and not see a huge whale shark in it. The enormous biodiversity of this group of islands, its seamounts and the amount of food that is concentrated in them is perfect for the great whale sharks to appear, mainly in the Wolf and Darwin islands.
Best time to dive with whale sharks in Galapagos
The wet season is the best for sightings of large bugs in Galapagos, when the Humblot current is strongest, between August and September.
The spawning of the huge snappers Lutjanus cyanopterus marks the arrival of whale sharks at Gladden Spit, (about 100 kilometers south of Belize City) which for three full moon days turns this heavily protected natural park into a festival for the snappers... and for those who feed on them.
When to see whale sharks in Belize?
The time available is not very concentrated, so if you want to see them you will have to be underwater during the full moon between April and May.
Surely by now there is no one left who does not know that the Maldives is one of the best places in the world to dive with whale sharks, so it could not be missing in this list. Although whale sharks move around the Maldives throughout the year and throughout the archipelago, the Ari and Baa atolls are perhaps the most popular, especially Baa, where we find the Hanifaru Bay and its currents full of plankton.
Best time to see whale sharks in Maldives
As we have said, throughout the year we can find whale sharks in Maldives and depending on the season it will be easier to find them in some areas or others. In the wet season from May to December, whale sharks are generally found in the western islands of the Maldives, while in the dry season, from December to April, the best opportunities to see whale sharks are in the eastern atolls of the Maldives.
Holbox Island is located in the national park of Quintana Roo, Mexico, bordering Belize. This park full of mangroves and tropical rainforests is located in the fortunate corner of the Yucatan Peninsula where the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean mix, perfect cocktail for the reproduction of thousands of different species, which provides whale sharks with lots of food in the form of plankton.
When to see whale sharks in Holbox?
From the beginning of June to the end of September, whale sharks visit the island of Holbox to feed in its plankton-filled waters - up to 400 sharks have been seen together during this period!
Mozambique is an increasingly popular but still little known and explored destination with a lot to offer: large concentrations of manta rays, huge groupers, dolphins, humpback whales, turtles... and large concentrations of whale sharks.
Best time to dive with whale sharks in Mozambique
Although they can be seen at any time of the year, whale sharks appear more easily between October and April, when there is also a higher concentration of manta rays. However, if you go from October onwards, you may be lucky enough to encounter the humpback whales that pass through the Mozambique Channel during their annual migrations.
In the Philippines there are several areas where you can dive and swim with whale sharks and it is possible to find them all over the country (that's what comes with being in such a privileged area for marine biodiversity and more than 7,000 islands).
In Donsol Bay you can only snorkel with them and the best time is from December to May although they can be seen, with some luck, throughout the year. Oslob, in Cebu, is another area where whale sharks appear although there are many undesirable practices such as artificial feeding, which do more harm than good to the sharks as it is believed to modify their migration patterns.
Thailand, as in the case of the Philippines, also has numerous areas where you can interact with whale sharks. Whether in Ko Tao, Phuket or the Similan Islands, you can have extraordinary encounters while snorkeling and diving.
When to see whale sharks in Thailand
Although they can be seen throughout the year, the best times to dive with these peaceful giants are the months of March, April, May, September and October.