Swimming With Whale Sharks Like A Boss
Get up-close to massive whale sharks as they filter feed in La Paz, Mexico
Whale sharks gather in the Sea of Cortez from August to May in order to gorge on plankton and enjoy the warm waters of Baja California Sur. Swimming with whale sharks in Mexico has been on my bucket list for years. So, while working in Los Cabos this spring, I booked a day-long group tour with Cabo Adventures, hoping to get up close to these gentle giants.
The tour departed from Los Cabos, and it took approximately two hours to drive to La Paz. Once we boarded our boat, the tour guide briefed us about what to expect and laid out the rules. The most important one: No one is allowed to touch the whale sharks. Swimmers can get within an arm's length but need to take caution around the whale shark's powerful tail.
Whale sharks range from 18 to 40 feet in length, and they average approximately 20 tons in weight. Once we spotted this massive fish, we had to kick our fins really hard to swim at the same pace as they were—just a few minutes in their presence can be exhausting.
Keep in mind that they are filter feeders, so there’s no need to be scared for your life. In fact, the craziest experience you can have is diving near the head of the whale shark and looking her straight in the eye. I got close enough to see her gills expand and close and noticed that each whale shark has its own unique pattern of pale yellow spots.
If the conditions are good, guests have the opportunity to hop in and swim with them a few times. We were lucky enough to dive in four separate times.
Also included in the full-day tour is a celebratory Baja-style lunch, with new friends, tequila shots and beer. This is Mexico after all. Salud!