In addition to visiting Xel Ha park, Roberto and I also wanted to do one more tour while we were in Cancun: swimming with whale sharks! We were very excited to be visiting the Cancun area the same time as these giant sharks.
Whale sharks are fish (not mammals) – the largest fish in the world to be exact. Each year schools come to the waters off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to feed on krill, plankton and other small sea creatures each summer. They are gentile creatures and pretty cute with their polka dots!
We traveled out to sea to their feeding ground for about an hour. In fact, it was the first time Roberto had been out far enough to no longer be able to see land. Lucky us, he and I were selected to go into the water first. Although our tour boat only had about eight people, we went out with the sharks in groups of two or three.
Finally we got our first glimpse of one of the giant fish as we prepared to jump into the deep open ocean.
We sat on the edge of the boat, fins dangling, as the captain steered towards whale sharks we spotted. Once we found one close by we jumped into the water!
I felt a little overwhelmed jumping into the ocean with this giant whale shark. He was swimming away from us and his tail was huge! We were warned to stay away from the slow flapping tail as we could be injured if it hit us.
We had to swim quickly to keep up with the swimming whale shark and it was hard work. Just a few languid strokes of the giant tail fin and he was gone again. I persevered though and managed to get this video. You’ll notice towards the end the whale shark changed direction towards me and my forward momentum almost made me swim right into him!
Seeing these giant sharks up close and sharing their environment was unlike anything we’ve ever done before. Their huge spotted bodies were beautiful against the clear deep blue ocean. Their mouths were so cool as they fed along the surface; the were quite different from other kinds of sharks with big teeth!
We entered and exited the water a few more times, and once we finally had our fill, sailed over to a reef for some snorkeling. It was a nice reef but unfortunately the water was cloudy in that area so the snorkeling wasn’t the best. After the snorkel we dropped anchor on the shore of Isla Mujeres where the water was chest deep and crystal blue as far as we could see. Gorgeous!
The guides began passing us “Coronita” beers to enjoy in the water, and we ate a yummy lunch of shrimp ceviche and fresh fruit right there in the water. Amazing!
This was a wonderful tour: a great combination of adventure and nature, swimming and snorkeling and, well, drinking! If you are ever in the Cancun area between May and September definitely try to do one of these tours!
I will add that we are fairly experienced swimmers/snorkelers and found it challenging to keep up with the sharks. The water is very deep (you can’t see the bottom) so if you go be sure to wear a life preserver that fits properly and don’t push too hard. You don’t want to get winded and panicked out there!
If you liked this post please consider subscribing to our RSS feed to get free updates.