Best Places to Dive with Whale Sharks (and When to Go)

Best Places to Dive with Whale Sharks (and When to Go)

Whale sharks are majestic and graceful giants of the ocean. It can be an extremely humbling experience to get in the water and swim with these beautiful and gentle creatures. We've traveled the world to find the best places to dive with whale sharks. Here is our top 5 list of destinations where you can get in the water and up close with the largest fish in the world:

#1 - Wolf and Darwin Islands, Galapagos

From June to November, the weather and water temperatures in the Galapagos get colder. Plankton starts to bloom thanks to natural upwelling currents and whale sharks come to the area to feed. This explosion of nutrients also attracts a huge diversity of fish activity making which makes whale shark diving in the Galapagos even more awesome!

Galapagos Whale Shark Diving
"Everything is bigger in the Galapagos, and the whale sharks are no exception! Swimming with these gentle giants is always an incredible experience, but the 40 - 50 foot whale sharks we saw in the Galapagos were nearly double the size of those I’ve encountered elsewhere." - Katie Yonker, Travel Agent and Trip Leader

#2 - Socorro Island, Mexico

Located 240 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas and often called "Mexico's Little Galapagos", Socorro Island is a great place to see a plethora of large pelagic animals. In November and December, whale sharks can often be seen, as well as giant mantas, humpback whales, and large gamefish.

Socorro Whale Shark
Photo taken by @vibesandhorizons

"My favorite whale shark destination is Socorro Islands, Mexico. Also known as the Revillagigedo Islands, this remote archipelago consists of 2 volcanic islands of San Benedicto Island and Socorro Island, and a seamount known as Roca Partida, arguably my favorite dive site anywhere on the planet. Whale sharks are known to visit Socorro starting May and stay until December. Socorro is my top destination for whale shark diving because they are often accompanied by large schools of jack, dolphins and manta rays." - Tim Yeo, Travel Agent and Trip Leader

#3 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Whale sharks gather during the summer in two areas around Isla Mujeres. Most operators will snorkel off Isla Holbox, where the whale sharks gather to feed on plankton and krill. Other operators will take snorkelers way off Isla Mujeres to clear blue water, where whale sharks and mantas feed on bonito eggs after spawning events.
Isla Mujeres Whale Shark

"Although this is a snorkel-only destination, the opportunity to see whale sharks, particularly in July/August, is about as near of a guarantee as you'll find for marine life. Plankton rich waters & breading tuna eggs draw in hundreds of whalesharks (and manta rays) to this location every year, resulting in a consistent, (and fully natural) event. Over the years the knowledge of this event has grown, so you can expect to see a massive amount of boats and other snorkelers, but thankfully there are a number of regulations now set with how close you can get to the animal, only 2 snorkelers at a time allowed to be in the water, etc to help regulate the tourists and protect the animals. Also, with the abundance of whalesharks, you still commonly have your own shark to swim by & admire." - Adam Gibson, Marketing Director and Trip Leader

#4 - La Paz, Mexico

A reliable place to encounter Whale Sharks, especially in the fall and winter months. We are fans of visiting La Paz in October and November when the water is warmer and the Whale Sharks are busy feeding on plankton. A visit in the winter means cooler water temps and less visibility, but also the possibility to see grey and humpback whales.

La Paz Whale Shark
"Whale sharks in La Paz have the wonderful distinction of being predictable but wild. No one is feeding these sharks! Because of this, they have very little interest in people and it can be a hectic affair trying to keep up with their breakneck speeds. Don't get me wrong, when you're in the water with them they look slow and majestic. But when something the size of a bus is being majestic, they're really traveling at speeds much faster than you can swim. So it can be better to be smart than physical -  position yourself where you think the whale shark might go next and be careful not to get in its way. With any luck you'll find yourself in a surreal world where the celestial patterns across the whale's back cruise under you as the hot sun and desert mountains shine above." - Nirupam Nigam, Editor-in-Chief Underwater Photography Guide 

#5 - Oslob, The Philippines

Fisherman in the town of Tan-awan have lured in whale sharks by feeding them shrimp and have turned them into a popular tourist attraction. A very reliable place to encounter a whale shark. 
 Oslob Whlae Shark
"In Oslob, Philippines, a day trip from Dumaguete,  there is a whale shark experience different from the most others in the world. Dozens of full-grown 40ft whale sharks arrive in (usually) clear blue water to be fed by fisherman. A multitude of boats brings guests, most without fins, in a circle to visit and swim with the whale sharks" Scott Geitler, Bluewater Travel Owner and Trip Leader


Christmas island Australia. Great place for whalesharks

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