We are in the process of making changes to our Mexico whale sharks adventure. After operating this trip for many years off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, we have determined we can no longer offer it in an ethical manner that does not compromise the well-being of the whale sharks. This is not due to irresponsible conduct on our part, but because many more boats are now taking visitors to swim with whale sharks in this area, and the water has become crowded. We believe that adding to that presence is not healthy for these marine creatures. We anticipate moving this adventure to a location on the Baja Peninsula where there is no detrimental impact on whale sharks—we'll announce it once details are in place!
- Ethical Whale Shark EncountersAlongside our naturalist guides, swim up close to gentle whale sharks on careful, responsibly conducted encounters in warm Caribbean waters
- Stay on a Small, Peaceful IslandExplore Holbox Island, tranquil yet lively, focused on a traditional fishing community with streets of sand and few cars, in contrast to Yucatan mega-resorts
- Excellent Birding & SnorkelingVisit Isla de Los Pajaros, teeming with frigates, flamingos, pelicans and more, and snorkel over the world's second-largest barrier reef
You'll Find No Better Whale Shark Adventure—Here's Why!
- Responsible, Ethical Whale Shark Encounters
Plenty of other tour operators offer whale shark excursions off the Yucatan Peninsula, mostly from large mainland resort areas like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. And to be frank, most of them do not offer an eco-conscious experience. Their boats are often crowded, and there may be dozens of people in the water with the whale sharks at the same time. In contrast, we are committed to a lower-impact presence that prioritizes the well-being of the whale sharks, using best practices as stipulated by WWF. Our boats are spread out so each spends time with its “own” pod of fish, and each boat stays a minimum of 10 meters from the whale sharks. Taking turns, we enter the water with just two snorkelers at a time, accompanied by an Expedition Leader who models proper behavior.
- Holbox Island—A Set-Apart Base in Nature
Far from the mega-resorts of Cancun, our home base is idyllic Holbox Island, a laid-back little outpost with uncrowded white sand beaches, one small fishing village and hardly any cars—locals get around by golf cart. The island, reachable only by small ferry, has an eco-conscious vibe, and its residents have banned all single-use plastics as part of the local commitment to keeping beaches and marine environments pristine. While tourists enjoy Holbox, giving it a lively vibe, it's a toned-down experience from what most Riviera Maya visitors encounter.
- The Best Guide-to-Guest Ratio—No More than 8 Travelers Per Boat
Our small group size means we have the best guide-to-guest ratio of any whale shark tour on offer. Depending on our total group size, which will never exceed 14, we may travel with two Expedition Leaders, dividing into two boats with a maximum of seven per boat. This intimate context ensures an exceptional level of personalized care, service and interpretation, plus more time in the water with the whale sharks than you'd get on a standard tour.
- Experienced Guides Who are Whale Shark Experts
Nat Hab has a global reputation for hiring the world’s best naturalist guides. The Nat Hab Expedition Leaders who guide this trip have 20 years’ experience each and are among Mexico’s foremost authorities on whales and whale sharks. We're also accompanied by experienced local guides, offering extra assistance in the water for those who need additional snorkeling support. See Expedition Leader bios with traveler comments regarding the quality of our expert guides.
- A Well-Rounded Itinerary with Diverse Nature Highlights
While whale sharks are our main focus, we add other highlights on Holbox Island and the Yucatan coast. From exploring the mangroves of Isla de Los Pajaros, teeming with shorebirds and seabirds, to swimming in a freshwater cenote and snorkeling over the barrier reef, you'll enjoy an exhilarating array of tropical nature adventures on our compact itinerary.
- An Uncompromising Commitment to Safety & Training
Our boat drivers and local guides are certified by the Mexican national park system, undergoing an annual refresher course about whale sharks as well as marine regulations. This is not the case with many of the local operators that other U.S.-based tour companies use in this area.
- We Guarantee Your Special Whale Shark Experience
With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our exclusive quality and value guarantee that we will meet the lofty expectations we establish in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
- Feel Good About Your Carbon-Neutral Journey
We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—including your round-trip flights from home. Natural Habitat Adventures has been the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company since 2007.
- Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF's Travel Partner
Because of our commitment to environmentally conscious travel, as well as the outstanding quality of our worldwide adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat Adventures as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!