Swim & Snorkel with These Gentle Giants, Which Are Actually the World's Largest Fish!
Frequently Asked Questions
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Whale sharks congregate in the warm waters around Isla Holbox between late-June and August to feed and breed, and Nat Hab trips operate during these months to take advantage of peak migratory season. At this time of year, you may have the chance to witness mating rituals and see newborn whale sharks with their mothers.
The climate is warm and tropical on Isla Holbox and the Riviera Maya, with an average high of 89°F and average lows of 76–77°F during the summer months. Expect short rain showers in the evenings and dry, cooler nights.
Since whale sharks are not threatened by humans, they are perfectly comfortable swimming incredibly close to us. They will likely come within arm’s reach as they swim around you and near the boat.
Though whale sharks are some of the largest creatures on earth and may at first appear intimidating, they are very accustomed to the presence of humans. These gentle giants are slow-moving filter-feeders, and they often swim around our boat when their curiosity is piqued. While incredibly safe, these interactions allow for one of the most intimate and unique wildlife encounters in the world.
The waters off the coast of Isla Holbox abound with marine life. As we swim among whale sharks, keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins and giant manta rays. On excursions to mangroves, we’ll encounter tropical birds such as flamingos, frigatebirds, cormorants, pelicans and roseate spoonbills. We’ll also see sea turtles, sponges and a host of colorful fish species when snorkeling on the northern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
We travel in 23- to 29-foot panga-style outboard motorboats, which swiftly bring us to the heart of whale shark territory. Each vessel has a four-rung vertical ladder that hangs over the side for easy entry and exit from the water, as well as a partial sunroof for shade.
Bring lightweight clothing and adequate sun protection for warm days on the water. It may be windy, and rain is always possible, so pack warmer layers and waterproof rain gear. A bathing suit, water shoes and sturdy shoes are also necessary for snorkeling and walking excursions. Check out Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure.
Nat Hab provides all necessary snorkeling gear, including masks, fins and snorkels. The water will be warm and comfortable, so wetsuits are not needed, but those wishing to bring one are welcome to do so.
Nat Hab rates this trip as “moderate,” which means guests should be able to swim a minimum of 150 feet and be capable of remaining afloat in sometimes choppy seas. Our itinerary also includes a few walks of about one-half mile, and travelers must be able to climb the stairs at our accommodations. Please click here for the explicit physical requirements of this whale shark adventure.
Snorkeling is easy to learn, and Nat Hab’s guides will provide expert instruction, so inexperienced guests are welcome and encouraged.
The water temperature from June to August ranges between 80°F and 85°F, so it will be warm and very comfortable for all of our aquatic activities.
Our hand-selected hotels are located just steps from the Caribbean Sea, with scenic ocean views and stretches of white sand beach. These accommodations allow us unparalleled access to the whale shark breeding grounds and bountiful coral reefs. Hotels have en suite bathrooms, swimming pools shaded by palm trees and other top-class amenities. You’ll be able to relax in comfort in large, airy rooms after a series of sun-kissed days swimming with whale sharks.
The meals you’ll have on this trip are nothing like the Americanized Mexican food we find in the United States. Yucatecan cuisine is bold in flavor—a marriage of Spanish, French, Caribbean and local Mayan techniques and ingredients. Guests enjoy a variety of authentic, regional dishes that often draw from the bounty of the sea. Achiote, habañero chile and sour orange are regarded as the Holy Trinity of Yucatecan cuisine, and beans, rice and corn feature prominently. Special dietary needs can be accommodated easily.
The national currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN). Click here to see the most up-to-date exchange rate for USD to MXN. U.S. dollars are widely accepted throughout Mexico, but you are also welcome to exchange money at banks or at the airport for smaller purchases throughout the trip.
Internet access is available at all our accommodations and while there is cell phone reception, keep in mind that it may be spotty. With the focus of our trips on immersive nature and wildlife experiences, Nat Hab encourages minimizing the use of electronics, so we ask that guests please refrain from using technology during group activities.
The minimum required age for this trip is 14 years old, as there is quite a bit of swimming in open water, and these long excursions can be challenging for children. If you’re looking for a tour designed specifically for children, teens and families, check out our collection of Family Adventures to Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Africa and more.
Yes! Families or friend groups can reserve entire departures on a private basis. Please call our office at 800-543-8917 for details on group size and pricing.
Guests are responsible for booking roundtrip flights from their home city to Cancun, Mexico. We recommend that you use Natural Habitat Adventures’ Travel Desk, as our Air Travel Specialists are intimately familiar with the requirements of our trips and can arrange the most efficient and cost-effective travel into Cancun. Please check the Getting There & Getting Home section on the Dates, Prices & Infopage for details on required arrival and departure times for this adventure.
Nat Hab is happy to reserve a hotel room for you in Cancun before your whale shark tour begins, but please note that pre-nights are subject to availability at the time of booking. Please speak with our Travel Desk if you’re interested in booking extra nights.