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Best Time to See Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

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If you’re looking to tick swimming with whale sharks off your list then you need to read this blog post to find out when is the best time to see whale sharks in Isla Mujeres.

After spending a good amount of time in Mexico, Amy got to finally swim with whale sharks and give it a big tick on her bucket list and it truly was one of the most epic experiences imaginable.

There is nothing more humbling than swimming in the ocean surrounded by these large, magnificent animals. Not to mention that you may also get the chance to see other marine animals such as turtles, manta rays and much more.

This travel guide will walk you through why you should see whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, the best time to see them, recommended tours, tips for swimming with whale sharks and also other Mexican destinations that you will be able to swim with whale sharks too.

Whale sharks in Isla Mujeres

Where is Isla Mujeres?

Located just off the coast of Cancun is the small island Isla Mujeres that offers every traveller a tiny slice of paradise. It is very easy to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres as you will just need to take a 30 minute ferry.

There are different ferry ports that you can use whilst you’re in Cancun but the most commonly used one is Puerto Juarez as it has much more frequent ferries.

Reasons to See Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

1. When in Rome, When in Paradise

The saying always goes that when in Rome as you plan to indulge in something. Why not when in paradise? Whilst you’re in Isla Mujeres, why not see whale sharks?

It is one of the most beautiful destinations in Mexico and has one of the best backdrops for you to see whale sharks. Not to mention that there are regular, frequent sightings of whale sharks around Isla Mujeres so this also increases your chances for seeing them.

Water from Isla Mujeres with whale shark find visible just above the surface.

2. Unique Destination to see Whale Sharks

A lot of travellers tend to go on whale sharks tours in Cancun. Even though, you will be going to similar areas to see whale sharks, you will find that going from Isla Mujeres is a much more unique spot to go on this tour.

Not just that but as the island is quite small, you are more likely to have less people on the boat too. This makes it a more intimate experience instead of piling on a large boat. Equally, you will find that you will get to have more time in the water seeing the whale sharks too.

3. Affordable experience

Despite this being an incredible bucket list experience in Mexico, it is still quite an affordable tour to go on from Isla Mujeres.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around $2,500MXN (£118GBP / $150 USD). This will include your boat ride, often taxes will be included, snorkelling equipment and the experience of swimming with whale sharks with a local guide too.

When is the best time to see whale sharks in Isla Mujeres?

The whale shark season in Isla Mujeres spans for around 4 months which gives you plenty of opportunities to see these friendly giants up close.

You will find that the whale sharks will begin to arrive near Isla Mujeres in May up until the end of September. At the start of the whale shark season, sightings are not as frequent as they are only just beginning to arrive.

The same can be said for the end of September when the whale sharks begin to leave. Due to this, you may not want to see the whale sharks around this time as you won’t have as high of a chance to see them.

With this in mind, the best time to see whale sharks in Isla Mujeres is between June – early September. We would recommend seeing the sharks in June especially as this is a really great time to visit Isla Mujeres itself as well as plenty of whale sharks to see.

Amy got to see whale sharks herself in June and this was one of the most incredible experiences with plenty of whale shark sightings.

Another epic part of when Amy got to see the whale sharks is that they were also feeding off of the plankton at the surface of the water which is an incredible unique position to see them in.

If you have flexibility with when you can visit Isla Mujeres and see the whale sharks then from June to early September is definitely the best time to increase your chances of seeing them.

If you're wondering when thee best time to see whale sharks in Isla Mujeres is then we would recommend visiting in June. This particular image was taking n JUne which shows the whale sharks feeding from plankton on top of the surface.

Whale Shark Tours from Isla Mujeres

There are lots of different whale shark tours from Isla Mujeres that are well recommended. They will often include some food on the boat, taxes, snorkelling in Isla Mujeres and the snorkelling with whale sharks experience itself.

Below, you will find a couple of tours that we recommend for snorkelling with whale sharks. If you have time, there are also plenty of amazing dive sites in Isla Mujeres where you may also have the chance to see whale sharks too.

Whale Shark Snorkelling Tour

Arriving early in the morning, you will head to the Pocnac Dive Centre where you will be given a brief for your day out on the boat.

You will get suited up with your snorkel gear and checked over by a professional for the correct sizes for you. It will take approximately an hour and a half to reach the site for seeing the whale sharks which is a protected zone.

When you’re on the boat, you will jump off in pairs to have your opportunity to see the whale sharks. You often get to have 2 turns each so that you have a good chance to see the animals.

After this, you will enjoy some fresh ceviche on the boat (a delicious Mexican delicacy) before heading off to another snorkelling spot. Then you will have the opportunity to see other marine animals including plenty of coloured fish, turtles and so much more.

Whale Shark Adventure from Isla Mujeres

This tour is very similar to the last one but is ran with a different company. Like the other tour, preserving the whale sharks is very important to this company.

In our opinion, that is why this tour is a big appeal for anyone that would like to swim with whale sharks. Rightfully so, you are encouraged to respect the whale sharks as you are in their habitat and reminded that the whale sharks are not trained and wild animals so to respect their distance.

You will get to enjoy this incredible, memorable experience with some of the friendliest giants in the sea and learn more about them from a local guide.

Amy & Kai (her diving instructor) in front of Sea Hawk Diving Shop.

Similar to the other tour, you will be taken to the whale shark area where you will get the chance to see and swim with them in pairs. After that, you will enjoy some tasty fresh lunch on the boat before heading off to go snorkelling in one of the shallows to spot other beautiful marine animals.

Other Mexican Destinations to See Whale Sharks

Isla Mujeres isn’t the only destination in Mexico that you can see whale sharks. However, we do recommend it as being one of the best destinations for seeing whale sharks though.

Below, you will find a list of a few different destinations in Mexico that you can experience snorkelling with whale sharks and some recommended tours too.


Cancun / Riviera Maya

Isla Holbox

La Paz

Boats on the water with other snorkellers looking to catch a glimpse of the whale sharks. This image shows a whale shark on the surface of the water in the protected zone.

Tips for Swimming with Whale Sharks

When you’re swimming with whale sharks, it can be quite overwhelming how large these animals are. It sounds strange because you get in the water knowing that they are the biggest animals in the sea (that we know of), yet, actually seeing them up close is a whole different experience.

We’ve included some tips below so that you can swim with whale sharks safely for both you and the animals. Your guide should give you a brief before embarking on your adventure but it’s always good to know what to expect.

1. Keep Your Distance

Unsurprisingly, whale sharks move very quickly, a lot quicker than you would expect at the size of them. It is important for both you and the whale sharks to keep your distance so that you don’t accidentally get hit when they’re trying to move.

These are wild animals and it is imperative that you respect their distance especially as you will be seeing them in a protected national park.

2. Strengthen Your Swimming in Advance

As we mentioned in the last tip for swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, they can move very quickly. To increase your chances of seeing these animals, practice some swimming before you go on this adventure.

When your guide catches sight of a whale shark, you will have to swim quite quickly to be able to keep up with them and get to the sighting. The stronger swimmer you are, the better chances you’ll have of seeing these beautiful animals.

A huge manta ray that could be seen whilst snorkelling with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres

3. Watch Out for Their Tail

Whale sharks are completely harmless to humans but one thing can be said is that their tail certainly has a sharp whip. This is where the importance of being a strong swimmer and keeping your distance comes in.

One of the biggest injuries that can be caused on these tours is from the whale shark’s tail. If you follow these tips then it is very unlikely that you will have this experience especially if you’re keeping a safe distance from them.

4. Listen to Your Guide

When you’re going on a whale shark tour, you need to listen to your local guide closely and follow their instructions. They will give you a set of rules to keep you and the whale sharks safe and it is very important that you listen to them.

Your local guide will give you some guidance on when you should stop swimming and signs to look out for to make sure that you are kept safe.

5. Don’t Touch the Animals

No matter how tempting it may be, do not touch any of the marine animals when you are snorkelling with the whale sharks. Whether it’s a whale shark you see itself, a manta ray, a turtle, no matter what, don’t touch them.

This can cause irreparable damage to the animals and as you will be seeing the whale sharks in a protected area, under no circumstances should you touch them.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

Amy taking a selfie after scuba diving in Isla Mujeres

Whale sharks are some of the most incredible animals and seeing them in Isla Mujeres is even more amazing.

Before you travel to the island, there are some things that you need to be careful of in Isla Mujeres so do some research before visiting the island and enjoy every moment that you have there.

There are plenty of amazing things to do in Isla Mujeres and swimming with whale sharks is up there as one of the best experiences.

You will find that there are lots of different tours that offer the swimming with whale sharks experience so it is important to do your research in advance and check the prices. We’ve added some options for you to book your whale shark excursions and also different places in Mexico that you can experience this tour too.

Isla Mujeres Resources

Cancun Resources

Mexico Resources

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